We managed to get through all the daylight hours with clear sunny skies as we tramped all over Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga battlefield. In fact, if it had not been for the exorbitant parking meters, we could have made any of the 2-7 mile hikes featured on the brochure we picked up without getting wet.
So we headed back to the campsite for grilled half-pound burgers, potato salad, and baked beans. We even managed to wash the dishes and get our evening showers. Then, as we sat by the fire, the lightning lit up the sky, silhouetting the trees around us. Fifteen minutes later the first raindrop fell and we scampered into the screen tent to finish our evening at the picnic table, reading, studying for Bible classes, and doing crossword puzzles.
The next morning the rain had stopped, but it was still gray and damp. By afternoon the wind picked up and cooled off, but the front had not yet passed. The gray skies continued and a mist, too heavy for sitting by the fire with a book, filled the air around us. Once again we were relegated to the screen, and as we sat at the table in the cold, damp wind, we became more and more miserable. Ordinarily, sitting by the fire will keep you warm enough, along with the several layers of clothing we pile on, but the mist made that solution impossible. We were soon wrapped in blankets struggling to keep our minds on our studies. Before long, we gave up and crawled into the tent and sleeping bags. Finally we were warm enough.
The next morning we woke to more gray skies, but after breakfast, the sun peeked through. As I walked to the bathhouse to brush my teeth, I took a moment to look straight up between the treetops—a bright cerulean sky everywhere! I did my own version of Snoopy’s happy dance, holding out my arms and twirling in a circle—yessssss!!!!
Funny how such a simple thing can make you so happy. I had been reduced to living at the mercy of nature instead of climate controlled technology, and had suddenly developed a deep appreciation for something as simple as a sunny day. The temperatures plummeted that night, the coldest we had all week, but we were able to sit by a fire and appreciated it far more than we would have a hotel room because of what we had endured the night before. In fact, when we got home, our humble dwelling seemed a palace.
I have contemplated this phenomenon often, usually right after we return from a camping trip. Have we let our technologically advanced, richer-than-ever society spoil us to the appreciation of the necessities of life God has granted us? Would anyone ever do a “happy dance” for a blue sky, or does it have to be a trip to Disneyworld, a new Mercedes, or a new gadget that keeps us from having to think too hard, organize our lives for ourselves, or pick up a phone book?
The early Christians rejoiced in things we would complain about, or even lose our faith over. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Heb 10:34. They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. Acts 5:41. Would we be able to do a happy dance about those things?
Those Christians, very new Christians in fact, knew that trials were a good thing. They made them stronger, they made priorities obvious, they made them notice and appreciate their blessings as they should. Those people understood that sin never satisfies, that the sinner will only “wax worse and worse,” as he seeks to find joy in debauchery, selfishness, and the fulfillment of every lust. But the joy of being in Christ will fulfill the soul no matter what is happening on the outside, no matter what the body must put up with, no matter the pain, suffering, or even death that awaits us.
Have you done a happy dance lately? Should I ask what made you so happy? How long has that happiness lasted, and what other feelings did that “thing” eventually bring? Sin, or even material things that are not necessarily sinful, will only satisfy for a moment. Wouldn’t you like to be doing a happy dance forever?
Do you not know this from of old, since man was placed on earth, that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment? He will fly away like a dream and not be found; he will be chased away like a vision of the night. Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him. There was nothing left after he had eaten; therefore his prosperity will not endure. In the fullness of his sufficiency he will be in distress…The possessions of his house will be carried away, dragged off in the day of God's wrath. This is the wicked man's portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God. Job 20: 4,5,8,20-22,28-29.