There is a considerable amount of pathos in the small sea of humanity that is a crowded mountain-side camp ground. The territorial boundaries of the individual campsites are loosely defined and easily crossed. The cry of a baby, the sound of a bean bag hitting the corn hole board, the laughter of children at play, and the occasional bark of a dog are the backdrop for a meditative hiker and a contemplative photographer. The ticking away of time here is of no real consequence, and the traveling Sun takes charge of the rhythm of eating, resting, conversation and late evening fire-gazing.
The shared joy of a temporary change in life-style binds this strange hub of strangers. There are the senior couple from Michigan, with their upscale mobile home and pair of sleek motorcycles, the single dad with two school-age children (whom we have tried to help but who also has turned us down), the dear lady I pass the time of day with in the bath house who has a sister living in my town, and the rather noisy youth group a few sites down the way (who seem a mixture of beer drinkers and hymn singers). All of them retreated from their various home fronts to find enticing wonderment in the beauty of God’s creation and refreshment in the satisfying rigor of campsite dwelling.
We have come here to spend some quality time with my niece, her husband, and their three children. The children are two boys, aged 8 and 7, who live life at a high speed of boisterous intensity, and a 5 year-old girl, sweet and beautiful who charms everyone around her. As I watch, my husband wrestles with the boys and then calms them down with a video on his phone showing in detail how to build a rabbit box (to trap rabbits, of course). Our little charmer sits in her mothers lap, the two of them singing quietly to each other. My nephew-in-law is sitting with me by the fire looking fondly at his little family and obviously relishing in their delight, as this is their first real camping trip together since the children came along.
So here it sit, with my husband, the great old uncle, and this much younger man, the father of my niece’s children. Two fathers who are such fine earthly representations of our heavenly Father. I am grateful for this moment. It will never come again, and yet it contains eternal things that will never fade.
The Father heart of God is wide open toward His children. He is generous, stern, wise and powerful. He cares in specific and practical ways, provides out of His riches, commands the highest reverence and regard, and He unveils mysteries at just the right time. He is a good Father, and His ways are perfect.
When I am struggling to understand the context of my circumstances, I pray “Our Father,” as He is in truth the context of all things, and I pray in Jesus’ name, as He “upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3 NKJV) There can be no thing that I encounter that is outside His purview, above His authority, or beyond His sovereignty. This is both my comfort and my confidence, and faith gives me courage to face whatever He has already carefully sifted through His mighty, loving fingers.
Dear reader, I pray you, too, know Him as both good and sovereign. The peace that rules in hearts surrendered is beyond understanding. It passes through the mind, enters the heart, and securely settles the most unsettled of spirits. Whatever you are facing, be it circumstantial or relational, your heavenly Father longs to be gracious to you. Believe Him, turn to Him, obey His voice, and enter into His happiness.
Until next week, beloved, receive by faith every good gift from the Father of lights. (James 1:17 NKJV)