Sunday, June 28, 2009

Destruction and Blessing

I love to camp. It's something I hadn't realized until adulthood. As a child, my family took a handful of camping trips, but they were always in a small camper and always with electricity. I went to a girl scout campout once as a child, too, and stayed in what I think was a canvas tent with some other girls, but had never really camped out in a tent other than that until after my husband and I had our son and he was a few years old. We camped out a few times on sites with electricity, but in 2007 we took a different kind of camping trip. We bought a new, smaller tent than we'd had in the past (a three-dome tent) and went to Tennessee for a cob building workshop, held on the side of a mountain. No electricity there! We stayed about eight days. It was in April, so the weather was cooler than when we'd camped before. And... I absolutely loved it! Even though we were sleeping on an air mattress, my back didn't bother me. I could've just stayed there. I was up every morning just before daybreak, took a walk, listened to the birds... It was heavenly. Last year at campmeeting time, my son and I camped out all week. The weather was fantastic for June, the meetings were wonderful, and I really enjoyed the time we spent there, wishing only that Tim could've been there all week, too.

Now that I've prefaced this, you can understand how excited I was to go to campmeeting this year. Unfortunately, I'm going to need all my paid time off to use when we drive to California (will explain in a later post) in a few weeks, so I knew I was going to have to work from camp. I bought a laptop, which I had planned to do before the California trip anyway, and some friends of ours were going to take their camper and I knew I could power up at their site. No problem, I thought - the camp has WiFi. I should always stop and reevaluate things when that "no problem" thought comes to mind. Someday I'll learn my lesson. Monday and Tuesday I had a terrible time getting my work done. I'd start in at about 6 a.m. and not be able to get finished until bedtime. I missed all the meetings on Sunday and Monday and only got to hear the last one on Tuesday night. I couldn't get a WiFi signal anywhere I had a plug-in, and anywhere I could get the WiFi signal there was no plug-in. It was very frustrating trying to work eight hours by working a couple, recharging, working a couple, recharging... You get the picture. On Wednesday I realized that underneath the second-story deck on the patio of the lodge, there were outdoor outlets. So, I took my camping chair and my laptop and "set up shop." Aside from a couple of curious passersby, work went well and I was done in the early afternoon. I watched Ethan go tubing for the first time, and Tim was there in time for the evening meeting, so we got to attend together.

We had already had rain on Tuesday and our tent leaked and was wet, so I had stayed in the camper with our friends and Ethan had stayed in their son's tent. We knew more rain was coming Wednesday night, but Tim wanted to stay in our tent anyway since he had dried it out. He also didn't want to impose on our friends by staying in their camper, but finally I convinced him that I didn't want to make a midnight mad dash to the van from our tent if we started to get wet. So, Tim and I stayed in the camper and Ethan stayed with Tristin in his tent about 10 feet away from the back of the camper. I'm not sure what time it was, but I was awakened by thunder. A lot of thunder. And it multiplied. Then there were a few rain drops... for about a minute... before it started to pour buckets! The storm increased in strength VERY fast. The lightning was almost constant and so was the thunder. The rain pounded and the wind was horrible. I had already begun to pray for the boys as I laid there, knowing Ethan is afraid of storms. I had thought I heard a scream, but Tim didn't. I thought surely the boys would be coming to the camper, and actually I thought they would've come already. I couldn't imagine why they would be waiting. I wanted to go and get them, but Tristin is older than Ethan, 14, and I knew he would make the decision. Finally I sat up in bed. I could no longer lay there as I prayed. I faced the door of the camper and waited and prayed some more.

Finally I saw Ethan's flashlight shine against the frosted window of the door and heard the boys running. I sprang up and jerked open the door. Ethan came through it first and grabbed onto me around my stomach - hard. The first thing he said was, "Did you hear me scream?" I admitted I had and that I had been praying for him. He held onto me for the longest time, not really crying, but whimpering. I just wanted to hold onto him and let him know everything was okay now. I finally got him to lay down with Tim, but the storm wasn't over yet. It continued for quite a while longer, and I then turned my prayers to the other campers, their belongings, and the camp itself.

After a while I, too, laid down, but couldn't sleep. The storm was starting to let up and I dwelt on what had happened with Ethan. That's when God spoke to my heart. He let me know that the feelings I'd had toward Ethan are the same that He has toward His children. He sees the world in the state that it's in, the troubles we face, and He waits for us to come to Him. He is not idle while he waits, though. He waits, thinking 'surely they'll come to Me, surely they're frightened, when will they come?!' Then, when He sees the first sign of us coming to Him, He throws open the door and holds His arms wide! All He wants as our Father is to grab us and hold us tight and say 'it's okay now... I'm sorry you had to go through all that.' He can't wait for the day when He can tell us nothing like that will ever happen to us again. We need to see God not as a stoic, distant father figure, but as a tender, loving Daddy. That in itself should change how we relate to Him. I hope you will look forward with me to the day when we can wrap our arms around His waist, hold on, and say, "Thank you, Daddy, for saving me... and Jesus, I knew You'd come for me!"

Praise the Lord He speaks to us in all kinds of situations. I hope I can always be as good a listener as I was that night.

P.S. There were miracles realized all over the camp the next morning. Trees were snapped off, branches were strewn everywhere, the site where the kindergarten and primary kids met was demolished, but no one was hurt. Tents were ripped and an RV awning or two were mangled. Trees and branches lay all around the cars, but only one car received a dent about the size of a softball from a branch. The power was out and eventually campmeeting was cancelled and the camp lost a lot of food in the freezers, but the main surprise was that nothing big was damanged and no one was hurt. Praise God He heard many, many prayers that night.

Copywrite June 28, 2009, by Shannon Stambaugh. If you wish to use any of my writing in part or in total, you must request permission.


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