I guess I've drifted into "survival mode". It's the moment-to-moment careful distribution of time and energy to my top 10 priorities in life while everything else gets put on pause. Our family is going through some pretty major shifts right now. There are a lot of unknowns about Kurt's job (he's got one, just thinking about a change), where to live, where the kids will go to school, financial stuff, health stuff, kids stuff - the whole nine. Most of these changes are positive and exciting, but still unknown. I know that God has some pretty major things lined up for us in the next year, and I'm finding myself anxious to see how the end reads.
Last weekend, I went camping with my son, Alex, for Scouts. He's a Weebelo, which is the transition between the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts. All of the Weebelos in the district went down to Camp Wakonda to spend time with a "brother" Boy Scout troop and learn the ropes from the older kids. It's like a mini college recruitment. Kurt had camped the weekend before and had some obligations on Saturday, so I decided to go with Alex. We packed up the bare essentials - sleeping bag, change of clothes, tent, flashlight, lantern, bug spray, and water and took off. We honestly didn't bring much else. The Scouts are all about doing it au naturale.
Alex and I set up camp just fine, and he played night tag with the kids while I sat with some of the other parents and talked. We had a cracker barrel and laid ground rules and it was TAPS at 10:30. As diva as I can be, I really like sleeping outdoors. The tent walls were thin enough that I could see the full moon like a far away glow inching across the tent ceiling. It was about 65 degrees on a perfect late summer night. The cicadas and crickets were a racket, but somehow it all lulled me to sleep.
About 1:30 am, I woke up to what sounded like a car wash. A storm had blown in and rain was pelting the tent. I flicked on our lantern and took a look around the tent, fully expecting to see a half inch of standing water. Thankfully, we were mostly dry. I inspected the gear and made sure nothing was touching the sides of the tent that could leech water in. Finally, I laid back down and listened to the pouring rain. The wind started to pick up and blow our roof-flap around. The sides of the tent started to shake, and thunder crashed overhead. My heart pounded. I felt as vulnerable as if I'd been standing under a hand-held umbrella.
Around 3:00 am, I gave up on sleeping and started thinking about a strategy. The storm showed no sign of letting up, and I couldn't get a signal on my phone to check the weather. Our camp site was a good 200 yard walk from the car. There was no way I was going to be able to salvage myself, Alex, and our gear in the downpour. Ultimately, I decided that the best thing we could do - the only thing we could do - was stay in the tent and wait it out.
I found myself lying there waiting for the tent to collapse in on us. I played out a dozen scenarios of what it would be like to find myself under a mess of sopping wet tent material. Would we even be able to breathe or find our way out? I hadn't brought a knife. I only had a couple of emergency ponchos that were like plastic bags with holes in them. My heart pounded away and my eyes strained against the dark, searching for any sign of tent failure.
Although I had been praying the whole time, in those dark hours before dawn, I prayed in earnest. My prayers weren't elaborate or inspired. They were more like a bunch of random pleas and some mild irritation at our misfortune.
Finally, God got through to me. I thought about all of the unknowns in life right now. I thought about the scary changes and the unforeseeable future. And I thought about how, although I was depending on God to keep me safe and dry, I was mostly just lying awake waiting for everything to collapse in on me. I had to smile at how often I do that. How often do I relegate God's protective, divine, and sovereign power to the protection of a tent in a thunderstorm?
God never promised there wouldn't be rain, but He did promise to be our shelter in the storm. And God's shelter is no flimsy tent. It is, comparatively, a five-star penthouse suite in an above-ground fall out shelter in a castle. Even in my own home, I don't fear a thunderstorm.
We lend our faith to things every day. I trust a plywood, glass, tar paper, and shingled house to protect my family during a storm. Why can I not trust God, creator of the universe, with my uncertain future?
We made it through the night dry for the most part. The rain lifted the next morning and quit completely by the afternoon. Of course, the Boy Scouts have a "Be Prepared" mindset and didn't cancel any of the planned activities. We did them in the mud and rain. I didn't mind the weather, though. Sure I was a little chilly and uncomfortable, but I was not afraid. I find that almost anything is endurable when fear is removed from the equation, because in the absence of fear is God's perfect, inexplicable peace. Learning to walk in that peace is one of the great lessons of my life.
Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.