The forecast the week before did not prepare us for that weather. It was only when we were on our way that it changed. So why did we keep going rather than turning back? Because if we hadn’t I would have missed waking to a couple of wrens serenading one another in the trees over our tent every morning. I would never have marveled at a dry floodplain studded with knobby cypress knees, and carpeted in white rain lilies and patches of bright yellow marsh marigolds. I never would have seen the family of deer traipsing through the woods ahead of us, then literally hightailing it off when they caught sight of our movements, white flag tails bouncing in the woodland shadows.
Sometimes being a Christian, like camping, is filled with all sorts of trials, everything from the triviality of abrasion rings on the ankles to greater problems of becoming lost in the woods and wondering if you will find your way out before you freeze to death in the cold night. But God tells us over and over that it is worth it. You will never have the experiences you have as a Christian any other way.
There is something almost magical about walking into a meetinghouse a thousand miles away from home and meeting people who instantly care about you and your problems. Does anyone else in the world have this blessing? Anywhere you go, you find people who will help you, even if they have never heard your name before.
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children…(Mar 10:29-30).
Many times I have been made to feel uncomfortable, even disliked, because of my faith. I haven’t yet experienced what we think of as full-blown persecution, but even small things can weigh on your mind and cause you to waver when they happen again and again. Yet Christians are blessed with Divine help and comforting knowledge when that happens.
So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Heb 13:6)
And now as I grow older and face trying times I still have something that others do not. How can they face serious illnesses thinking this is all there is? How can they face the death of loved ones thinking they will never see them again? How can they look death in the eye with dignity and grace when in their minds they will simply cease to exist?
But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that you sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (1Th 4:13-14)
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 15:53-57)
So yes, the trip was a little uncomfortable this time, especially when the rain started the morning we had to pack up and created a puddle two to four inches deep over half the campsite—including under the tent! But we experienced plenty to offset the bad memories. Far beyond that, if you remain faithful to God, I have no doubt that, regardless how unpleasant your life or your exit from it, when you wake up in eternal glory, you will shout from on high, “It was worth it!”
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory which shall be revealed to us (Rom 8:18).