When God is in a Simple Camping Trip

If you’re wondering where I was Thursday when the time came to do a blog post…what? You didn’t notice. Oh, well. That’s ok.

Anyway, I was camping. Took four guys and hiked eleven miles into a nearby wilderness area. It’s a terrific wilderness, really, compared to the nearby Glacier Park; far fewer regulations, far fewer tourists, bigger group sizes and no campsite reservations required. (Also, it’s not currently on fire.)

But the fun part was seeing God in it.

There were all kinds of little blessings. For one, there was practically no smoke in the drainage we were inhabiting for three days. The double-cliff bluffs above us were there for the eye-gazing in all their God-given glory, and there were no breathing problems.

For another, I already knew the area because circumstances two weeks earlier had redirected a friend and I to camp there. (That, too, was an excellent trip.) That ended up being an enormous benefit when our original hike (in the park) was snuffed out by evacuation-worthy fires.

We saw a bear and a moose; the moose was trotting across the road as we drove out, but the bear we saw on the trail, darting across a mere 100 feet ahead. It’s unbelievable how something that size can move so quickly. I’d like to say it was a grizzly because that’s a cooler story, and I did get the impression of a humped back, but I couldn’t really tell.

A couple of hiking mishaps (broken pack straps, etc.) were averted by the engineering knowledge of two of our guys and the screwdriver that I’d happened to bring. I initially started packing it to make sure my gun holster stayed tight instead of spinning around on my belt leaving the barrel looking up at me, but it came in handy for different reasons here. Funny how things end up working.

Did I mention the trip happened to come at the tail end of the Perseid meteor shower? We spotted a few great fireballs as we retired to bed for the evening.

But I think my favorite part was the answered healing prayer. My right knee was acting up the entire time, leaving me reliant on Advil, which had the ability to knock the pain down from a 7/10 to a 2/10 but still didn’t leave me very trustworthy of the knee. The four guys said a prayer for me and in the morning, the pain was entirely gone. Even the 2/10 was gone. I didn’t feel a twinge the rest of the trip.

This really blew me away, honestly. I’ve been on a lot of trips and outings where I or someone else had a bugaboo, we’ve prayed, and nothing improved. Seeing my knee healed this time (though the Advil was enough to control the pain) was another reminder of the cynicism I’ve developed towards seeing God come through, of how my “theology of suffering” (the very good Biblical philosophy of how not all prayers answered and we shouldn’t be focused there anyway) might be a little too well-honed.

Perhaps the positive answers to prayer (there have been others lately) is because my attitude towards God has hit a new tier of improvement lately. I posted a while ago about getting past that “mad with God” thing. It’s a hard thing to get past, partially because it’s so hard to diagnose; we don’t dare walk around being consciously and openly mad at God because we know it’s blasphemy. Yet when life “bumps” us, it will surface. Often only then.

So I’ve focused on releasing annoyance towards God over the bad things that have come my way in this life (my family, for instance). It makes a difference. Not just answers to prayer, but levels of daily peace. I recommend it.

Anyway. Just a quick tale on how good even a simple camping trip can be when God gets involved. I’d been worried about it. It felt opposed. Fire activity in the area has made everything uncertain, and several guys I’d invited had been forced to drop out. But we went with the company we could, and it was an absolute blast. Praise God.

Psalm 103: God’s Scandalous Resume

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:1-12)

Book Bible Inside People Man Reading AloneThis is fun.

God, always happy to remind humanity who he is (even though he’s done it innumerable times before and gets rightfully annoyed when we forget) is presenting us with his accomplishments. Not that we’re hiring him. But so that we might worship him.

However, I must admit…there’s always been a little hesitation in me regarding parts of Psalm 103.

“His benefits”?

“Healing all your diseases”?

“Satisfying our desires with good things?”

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Pizza Lessons #7: The Old Man

pizza5(For the previous parts of this series, click here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

 

The other night, I pulled up to a house for a late delivery run.

The house and lawn were run down. They all look that way in March, of course, as the snow melts. But the interior didn’t look much better, dirty and unkempt, as I peered through the curtain-less sliding door.

I knocked and saw the lone occupant – an elderly man with a beard that would make ZZ Top raise their guitars in salute – rise slowly from his chair. He was using a cane.

This’ll be a stiff, I thought, steeling myself to be fine with no tip. Customers of this profile were often cantankerous. Sometimes, you could argue that life had given them reason to be. Yeah, you could argue that if you lack the money to tip, you lack the money to order pizza in the first place, and maybe that argument works for the folks who order thrice a week without ever tipping. But sometimes a man’s gotta live, you know? So I was good either way. (And just to be clear, I never ask for tips. Bad form.)

The door opened. The man’s eyes crinkled with a shy warmth. A small cat had padded in front of him to the door, almost as if guiding him there.

I greeted him enthusiastically, quoted the price, and he presented a hundred dollar bill. “I’m sorry I don’t have smaller bills,” stammered the man. “I told ’em that when I called…can you make change?”

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