We are on our first camping trip as a family. I have taken precautionary measures to mentally tell myself I will survive. I felt like Rocky before he ran up the infamous steps while preparing to get to the camp site. Let me warn you – I am not a camper. I have never been camping before. Go ahead and laugh – truth is I am camping in a luxury cabin with a shower and beds. I have to cook over a fire pit using wood and coals; if you know me, you can just picture this site and do nothing but chuckle.
Because I knew I would not have all the luxuries I am accommodated to like home, I prepared macaroni salad, lunch meat for sandwiches bought groceries that required little preparation or cooking (even microwaveable steamed veggies so they would cook quicker over the fire.) I made my full three column one page list of all the things that we would need. I packed all the types of clothing, equipment and utensils. We were off on our first camping trip. I was feeling good and expecting the outcome to be well, because I thought I had prepared for it all.
Upon our late arrival, I anticipated a porch light on outside my cabin and the door unlocked, because I was instructed that would happen if we arrived after nine. The door was most definitely locked and the light was not on. After several attempts to open the door at ten o clock at night, I called the answering service number who went to a person not on the camp site; there was simply an answering service that would contact the camp grounds onsite person. Okay – so I took a deep breath and thought, well, things happen. Extend grace and be graceful despite being tired from sitting in the sun today watching three baseball games that started at nine o’ clock in the morning. (That I really enjoyed 🙂 )
Soon, the on call person showed up and apologized as she was getting us into our cabin. My hubby and I carried in all the “preparations” that we had packed, brought them into the cabin, made the beds and put the food away. It was midnight. I could not sleep. I was not comfortable and that I had not prepared myself mentally to experience. An early morning wake up call from rested kids had this sleepy mama in a bear clawing mood. It was definitely not something I had prepared for.
I packed almost all the right things to come on our trip and maybe only didn’t bring one or two things that could have made our trip better. I read recipes, bought groceries, talked to friends about how to start fires, but one thing I did not prepare myself for was what the experience of what camping was really like. I had not researched that. I was unprepared for that experience.
The first day was painful. Honestly, I would have packed up and went back home if my husband wouldn’t have barked about the money we spent on renting a place. I was completely unhappy, hot and not on the beach. This was not a vacation, this was work and I wasn’t getting a paycheck. I was not prepared for this.
I think about that in my Christian walk. I prepare myself for each day by reading God’s word and talking with God. I prepare myself for what my schedule is like for the day and who or what I am going to encounter. I know the verses, I read the books. Yet, that one thing happens that you do not expect and “WHAM” you feel unprepared for it!
“Be prepared whether the time is favorable or not….” 2 Timothy 4:2
This camping thing, well, it isn’t for amateur like me – I am not the type, but it doesn’t disqualify me. Day number two turned out to be better than day number one. A good night’s sleep, another cup of coffee, giving up my expectation of what I thought camping should be to accepting it for what it was, well that ended up being the best thing I could do for all involved. Maybe I wasn’t prepared for it to be busy… maybe I wasn’t prepared for the time, effort and energy it took to prepare dinner, maybe it just wasn’t anything I pictured it to be…. but changing my perspective and expectations from what I thought it was to what it actually was made it doable and more enjoyable.
Some people treat their Christian walk like I treated camping day one. In their mind, they have an idea of who God is and what he isn’t. They already know what a Christian is and what a christian isn’t. They have their minds in one gear with a solitary picture and expectation. Yet, when God or the Christian person in their life does not align with their preconceived prepared thoughts they just walk away, you know pack up and go home. Kinda like I wanted to do on day one of camping. But what if, they just laid their thoughts down and grasped hold that there was more out there and things were different than just their thoughts. What if a good nights rest, a praying friend and an encouraging conversation changed their perspective the next morning (like mine!) Well – allowing those things to happen could end up being the best experience of their lives.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.” Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)