Camping Out

"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."  Psalm 34:7

Growing up our family would camp out in the woods almost every summer, often en route to some grand destination we had never visited before.  These experiences instilled in me a love for the forest and being in the great outdoors.

On one such trip to Yosemite National Park, my mother had given my brother, sister and I some snack money to spend in the local store, and I was excited to spend mine on a can of shoestring potatoes—something I had never eaten before.  They were the perfect accompaniment to the hamburgers Daddy cooked on the Coleman® stove that night.  

As we readied for bed and the moon was rising in the sky, a park ranger came by to let us know there had been several bear and cougar sightings in the area earlier in the day.  He encouraged us to keep our lanterns off and all food locked in our car that night.

I was still working on that can of shoestring potatoes when distracted by the stars overhead.  They were so bright and seemed so close—as if I could reach up and touch them.  In the city we didn’t see them so well and I was mesmerized.  Not long after, Momma called us away from the light of moon and stars to sleep, and the five of us were zipped up tight in our tent.

Just as I was drifting off to dreamland, a large shadow passed in front of the tent accompanied by the sound of anything and everything we owned being tossed around the campsite.  I rolled over in my sleeping bag to catch my mother's eyes.  

"Be very still.  Don't make a sound," she whispered, holding me tight.

"Don't move.  Just lie quiet," Daddy echoed, only his lips moving.

It was a bear—perhaps two—and we children were terrified.  Sensing my fear and quickened heartbeat, Momma's hug grew tighter, bringing comfort.  It wasn't long before the noise stopped, the shadow disappeared, and we eventually drifted off to sleep again.

In the morning, we awoke to find our cooler empty, the clothes line torn down, and a crushed can of shoestring potatoes under the picnic table.  It was the perfect midnight snack for a hungry black bear.

As our family has revisited that camping trip over the years, reliving the terror we felt, Momma put it all into perspective.

"Prissy," she said.  "It is just like everything in life that frightens us.  We think we must fight the bear.  All the while, God is camping out with us in the tent, eager to show us the battle belongs to Him."

She went on to remind us of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in that fiery furnace (Daniel 3).  God was camping out with them, too, protecting them from the flames.

If there is something too big for you to battle today, remember what God spoke to His people through Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:7-8a, "Be strong and courageous!  Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side!  He may have a great army, but they are merely men.  We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” 

I'm so glad we need never to be camping out alone.

Goodnight, Runners.


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