However, I digress.
My church here in St. Louis goes camping every September. This was the weekend and I was glad not to be scheduled for work. I packed up my food, my brother's sleeping bag and mat, several layers of clothes, piled it into my friend Katie's car and we drove to Rend Lake, IL. We made it before dark, ate our take-out while waiting for mom to arrive with the real gear. Then it started to rain. boo.
We helped others arriving to get their tents up quickly so they wouldn't be soaked before anyone even got in them...then they helped us set ours up when mom arrived in the dark. We piled our sleeping stuff into the tent and then pretty much went to sleep. It rained some more. On and off (mostly on) throughout the night.
Mom's grand plan of pancakes and coffee on her new birthday cookstove fell to the wayside when it was still raining as we crawled out of the soggy tent in the morning as the campsite chatter got to a point where it's just better to get out of bed than to wish the chattering people would go back to bed :)
The campground was overrun with puddles, so by the time I arrived at the pavilion where some had gathered to cook their breakfasts my pants and shoes were soggy. I began wondering if it was worth sticking around, what fun is camping if it rains the whole time...I finally owned up to the fact, out loud, that I have a hard time when things don't go like I hope they will, like they always have...it's called disappointment, I guess, isn't it?
But we stuck it out and the rain paused mid morning. You never know if the pause is a stop or just a pause do you? Tentatively people stood around the fire pit and the the fire began to grow, with various people chipping in kindling and matches and logs and heavy sharp objects for log splitting and so forth. People gathered around, pulled up camping chairs since the benches were soggy...not sure yet if they were committing to staying or just hanging around until the rain started again - wanting to stay but not sure if it was safe to hope - for fear of what? disappointment.
Most of us hung around and after a while, choosing not to leave means a default choice to stay.
Lunch happened, smores happened, reading happened, chatting happened, laughing happened, the fire continued to happen - then dinner happened, more smores happened, beer happened, holding precious friends' precious children happened, wine happened, singing happened, the fire continued to happen, question asking happened - conversation happened, debate happened, reminders of God's purposes happened, reminders of our failure to live out those purposes happened. And then it was time to sleep again.
Because of thoughts stimulated by our conversation around the fire, I crawled into my sleeping bag and before drifting off to Lilly White's party, I found myself praying. Maybe as an attempt to push back against the disappointment I had owned up to some of earlier, I found myself praying for a gift from God. I found myself praying, as I do from time to time that He might see fit to give me a husband. Crazy, I know. And it only gets crazier. I prayed that this man would be one who loves me, who respects me and who God has made me to be, who is willing to protect me, who is willing to fight back against my ridiculousness with strength and gentleness, who is willing to remind me of what (and Who) is True, who is willing to walk with me through disappointment (his and mine), who will compliment my strengths and weaknesses, and who is willing to lead...and that's as far as I got before...well, before I don't remember anymore...I didn't get to the part where I pray that I would be able to do mostly the same...but I'm sure that's what I would have said next.
Not long after, the rain started back up again. It continued through the night, and when I heard the hatchet splitting logs I knew it was time to get out of bed for another go round of a soggy life. Still raining, but this time, it was Sunday. Even campout weekends have church services, and John spoke from Jonah. He reminded us of Jonah's attempt to flee the presence of the Lord, his willingness even to lose his life in that flight during the battle through a storm, and his inability to escape God's calling on his life. Sometimes I wanna run from God and what He wants for my life, like Jonah did. But 3 days in the belly of a large fish is not my idea of a good time, so despite the likelihood of my own fear and disappointment in response to how God sees fit to answer my prayers, I'm headed towards Ninevah.
PS - I might need some encouragement along the way. Said encouragement may or may not look like fresh bread baking in the oven when I arrive home from soggy weekends in the woods. Thanks Jeff!