This past weekend was a rather interesting weekend for me. You see, I went camping. This was not just any camping trip however. It was my first solo trip. Just me and one of the dogs – my boy Bishop. We went to Natural Falls State Park on the Oklahoma/Arkansas border. I have to say, the park was a lot more “family friendly” than I expected. The neighboring camps were in spitting distance. However, for my first solo trip, this may have been a good thing. I was kind of expecting to get scared in the middle of the night and end up sleeping in my car, but with the other campsites so close, I figured I probably didn’t have to worry about serial killers this round. This trip was something I felt like I needed to do, and next time maybe I can find somewhere a bit more secluded. But for my first time, Natural Falls worked out nicely.
Now, it’s the middle of my last semester in college. I only have a million things to do. Surely I could find a better time than RIGHT NOW to disappear, alone, into the woods for a couple of days. But you see, I’m preaching for the very first time this Wednesday night. I’ve never been much of a public speaker. Everything I have to say usually comes out jumbled and a bit convoluted. When I write, it’s different. Writing is simple. When I write I feel like F. Scott, but when I speak it’s more like George W. I once heard the phrase “no wilderness, no revelation” and figured, “Hey, why not take it literally?” Lord knows I needed some revelation. So off I went to the not so wild wilderness to find some.
The first day was the hardest. Bishop is an inside dog through and through and consequently spent most of the evening and following night whining. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person he kept awake. After a night of waking up every hour on the hour thanks to my furry alarm clock, I got up with the sun feeling surprisingly well rested. Tackle the day type rested. So, that’s exactly what we did. I won’t blow smoke and tell you that the trails to the falls were particularly challenging – they’re paved – but I will be honest and admit that I may be more out of shape than I realized. The top of the falls was easy to find, but the base? Well, that probably would have been easier had I taken the free map I’d been given the day before.
To make a long story short: thighs screaming and heart near implosion – hydration is really not something you should neglect – I made it back up to the base of the falls. Yes, uphill to the base of a waterfall. I know. But talk about beautiful. Bishop and I sat for a little while, caught our breath and drank some water, and I tried my best to experience profound revelation. But here’s the thing… it doesn’t work like that. Knowing that didn’t keep me from trying, but trying didn’t make it happen. A little sad – and bored, honestly – we made the short but steep climb to the top of the falls on the path I completely missed earlier that morning, and headed back to camp for lunch.
I listened to worship music on my phone. I read my Bible. I called my mom (she’s the perfect sounding board). Still no revelation. So, I just started writing. Most of it was stream of consciousness gibberish. Despite that, it got me started into my testimony and provided me with a theme: God doesn’t leave a hurt unused. He is the great steward and artist that turns darkness into light and fears into passions. He hurts when we hurt and wants only the best for us. He loves us.
I still don’t know what I’m going to say when I get behind that podium on Wednesday night, and I haven’t got much time to figure it out. What I am sure of though, is no matter what I say, God will use it for His glory and He won’t set me up just to let me fall. Here’s to living in the eleventh hour.