I Threw My Whole Stick into the Fire

It was the last night of my first summer camp–a week like nothing I had ever experienced. 6 nights sleeping in a tee-pee. We were the 
Diggers, part of the Shoshone tribe. Our meals came on a chuck wagon. It seemed odd that we weren’t taking the cook captive or scalping him. I guess we already had a treaty. Every night ended with all the tribes together at a huge bonfire. Every night we had a competition with the girl tribes. “Way down yonder, not so very far off. A bluejay died of the whooping cough. Well he whooped so hard with the whooping cough, he whooped his head and his tail right off. Same song, second verse, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse.” The girls on the other side of the hill always won. But this night was different. No whooping cough. No John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith. Just one simple, life-changing question… “Will you do whatever God wants you to do with you life?”
 
I thought long and hard about that question. I thought… as long as it means playing for Coach Wooden as his “right-handed Lynne Shackelford.” Pettey from the baseline… swish! I thought… as long as it meant scoring the winning touchdown by running right over my friend Mike so he would finally shut up about the Trojans being better than the Bruins. I thought… as long as I could still go body-surfing at Huntington Beach. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the question had no “as long as” clause. The question was “whatever God wants you to do?”
 
Our “chief”–full headdress and all–said, “If you want to dedicate your life to God, pick up one of these sticks from the wood pile, break it in half, then throw half into the fire and keep the other half to remind you of your decision tonight.” I jumped to my feet and grabbed a small stick from the pile. I waited in line for my turn. When the boy in front of me had broken his stick and thrown half of it into the fire, I knew all eyes were on me. I grabbed my little stick with both hands and with all my 9-year-old strength tried to break it; but it wouldn’t break! The stick was too short. I started to panic. I gave it a mighty blow across my knee–the snap on my cut-off J.C. Penney jeans popped open. I was sure everyone was watching and giggling as I held my pants up with one hand and held my stick that wouldn’t break in the other. It felt like every eye was glued on me as I stood there, frozen in the firelight–so I took a deep breath and I threw my whole stick into the fire.
 
I guess God would have to remind me of this night and this choice, since I had nothing left in my hand. And deep inside, a quiet voice–a voice I would hear again from time to time–whispered, “Don’t worry, I will remind you–I will remind you that you freely gave it all.”
 
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1, NLT)