I have had a love for camping for as long as I can remember. I have a multitude of fond memories of camping with my family throughout my childhood years as well as my adult years with Piper alone and then with our own growing family! To me, summer is not complete without a camping adventure in the great outdoors. And if I have my choice, camping would always be first on my list as the answer to the yearly question of what to do for vacation this year!
My Dad also had a love for the outdoors and seemed to be happiest when sitting in the middle of our campsite reading a paper in a folding chair! My Mom not so much! I think she put up with the camping adventures for the sake of my Dad and us kids, but longed for the day when they could finally afford a trailer so she didn’t have to sleep on the floor again! But she made sure that it was fun for us youngsters. She always had pre-planned camp activities set for us and did seem happy when cooking up some special delicacy over the propane stove for our evening meals.
Piper on the other hand seemed to love camping from the first time we did it alone together as a part of our honeymoon. Her only camping experiences that I know of before that, was summer camp at Christian conference grounds (in cabins) and a campout or two that she and I organized for our college-career group. Her family was definitely not into camping although her paternal Grandparents owned a range where Piper spent a lot of time as a child.
Piper was a lot like my Mom in that she also always planned activities for the kids to do while camping, along with the regular mountain hikes and swimming that was a normal part of our camping adventures. As the kids got older, I began to put together interactive programs like I wrote for our various youth groups that we could participate in as a family, complete with treasure hunts around the campgrounds, personal Bible study and related activities, crafts and group sessions. Every-so-often I still find a project or vacation summary booklet that Piper would have the kids put together while at camp or as a “What I did for summer vacation” project for school the following September.
I vividly remember waking up in the mornings when we would be leaving to go on vacation as a kid and even as an adult, full of excitement and anticipation of all the fun we would have! I felt that same excitement when Piper and I packed up our trailer and headed off to our favorite spot in the Sierra’s for our 30th Wedding Anniversary vacation week alone together back in 2005. I felt like a little kid again! It was also the first time in our then 30 years of marriage that we would be alone together on vacation (and not at a ministry conference) for more than a couple of nights! As it turns out, it was also our last vacation alone together as Piper began to exhibit the early stages of dementia just a couple of years later and life took a drastic curve!
Now that I am in the process of closing out that chapter in our lives by actively preparing our house for sale and then a move to Oklahoma to be near the kids, I think a lot about waking up with that excitement for the pleasurable activities of life each day. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of prayer, the Word and the knowledge that God “will never neglect you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5 God’s Word ©) to get me going in the morning with the barest tinge of a smile on my face and some hope in my heart!
But get up I do each day since Piper’s moving on to glory. Sometimes I just think about what a pleasurable time that she must be having in heaven and how beautiful she must look now that she is totally set free from all the devastating changes that the disease brought upon her body… and that makes me happy and somehow gives me a positive hope for my immediate future.
I also think on scriptures like Palm 118:24 that tell us that “This is the day the LORD has made. Let's rejoice and be glad today!” (God’s Word ©) Most of the commentaries that I read agree that the “day” spoken of in this verse is a prophecy for the Gospel age that you and I are a part of right now. But why does it tell us to be glad? Well, as I study my Bible, which I fully believe to be the anointed and truthful Word of God, I see that scriptures like 1 Corinthians 15:57 and 2 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:37, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 4:4, I John 5:4-5 and Colossians 2:14-15 (to name a few) emphatically describe the VICTORY that Jesus Christ has ALREADY provided for us to have in our daily lives!
All we have to do is reach out and appropriate it! But one can’t do that if he or she doesn’t know what the Bible says is theirs for the taking! Hosea 4:6 informs us that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (KJV) In this particular situation, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU!
So, underneath it all, that is the main hope or expectation that gets me up in the morning and causes me to put on a happy face! Because with the knowledge of the victory that Jesus has already provided for me, I have the peace on the inside that allows the JOY that strengthens me (Nehemiah 8:10) to overcome the sorrow that surrounds me. So yeah… This IS the day or better said the AGE that the Lord has made for me to rejoice and be glad in… because its HIS age and HIS joy that gives me my strength to move into the next chapter of my life!
What do you think? You understand of course, that if it works for me, it will also work for you! So, don’t be SAD but choose to be GLAD in and through Him and His promises to you! Have a great weekend, and as you do, say with me… “I am fully expecting to be GLAD in the JOY that HIS victory has already provided for me, today!”