And yes ... I do know how to spell.
I had a near (too-near) encounter with a bear at camp. It is a thrilling story that I want to share with you, but first I have to clarify a little about where my head was at.
This all goes back to a path that God placed me on twenty months ago. For those of you who follow me regularly you know I am referring to when God asked me to write stories. If you are new, check out this post for more information.
Ninety percent of the time God gives me the complete story He wants me to write. However, twice now God has only given me the person. A real person.
Come with me on a journey back in time to Southridge Bible Camp in northern Saskatchewan. It is July 17th, 2011. I am invited to the camp to be the Speaker to the grade 4, 5 and 6 campers. There are no campers present yet, they will arrive in a couple hours. Right now I am sitting in the dining hall with about
thirty-five other adults. We are sitting in a large circle. The camp director has asked each of us to go around the circle and state our camp name, our real name and why we are here at camp.
Now, a little mental checklist for you. I am tired from the drive, frantic about not having my talks prepared and nervous because I only know two people in this room. As we go from person to person I am taking notes in my head knowing I will forget all but maybe one or two of these people's name. The problem is amplified by the fact that each person is actually listing two names. When we get a little less than half way around the room one of the support staff says his camp name and his real name and God interrupts all else to say:
Write his story.
Huh? What did you say? His story? No way. I don't know him or his story and besides I just missed eight counsellors' names now. Forget it.
That was the end of that conversation ... one point for the clay; zero points for the Creator. Woohoo?
Later that night I could not get the message out of my head. I wanted to focus on my talks. I needed to focus on my talks - the first one is in twenty minutes. But no my head - which I cannot control much these days is thinking about this guy and his story. I prayed and asked God for his help to put this behind me so I could focus. I promised we could discuss the story issue in a week when I got home.
Please tell me I am not the only person out there who regularly argues with God. PLEASE? Anyone?
Jump with me to the end of day two at camp. We have a tremendous storm that knocks out all our power and water. Now my evenings that I had hoped to fill with studious prep for each talk and maybe some writing - just for fun - are now filled with dark, quiet times to think. Ugh! And think I did about this new character at camp and what his story might be.
Day four. I am a bit of a wreck now. God has been completely faithful to provide my talks in perfect fashion - only they come individually just prior to each session. He is teaching me to rely on Him fully, I can see that. However, I feel the odds are a little off kilter because He won't take away the story thoughts that are consuming me.
Here is a little side note. When I get a story in my head it is all-consuming. It is hard to talk to people around me and focus on things I should do when characters are talking and acting in my head. (See this post). This time was no exception, even though I did not actually have a story to go with this guy. I only knew his name and the conversation he had with me at camp so far.
So on day four I decided to join the campers at the beach for the day. Considering there was no power or water at the camp and all I could do was spend the next several hours desperately trying to squeeze out a talk I knew would come when God sent it - it seemed like a great idea.
It was a beautiful day - perfect for the beach. God spoke to me as I read my Bible and thought about the speech for that evening. It was wonderful. After awhile I noticed there was an opening on the motor boat that was dragging campers around the lake on tubes. So I went for a ride. On HIS boat. It was fun watching the campers have a great time and he filled my mind with all kinds of chatter about the boat and how the tube works. It was enlightening and gave me a glimpse into who he is and how he thinks. As soon as the boat ride was done God got down to business with me and we put together the evening talk. I knew I had done what he wanted me to do.
However, a new challenge arose. When I have a character in my head - like the stories - that character consumes me. I imagine him or her in all kinds of scenarios testing out their actions and words. I become very close to my characters. In the past, it has never been more than a distraction - however I have never had a REAL live character who happens to sit at the same meal table as me. This was a problem.
On returning to the camp after the beach I knew there was about an hour and a half until chapel time. The campers were gathering to play a wide game. Then after the game was supper and chapel. I knew I needed to be focused on God and not on stories. Tonight's chapel was the night that we presented the opportunity for the campers to accept Christ. I was already nervous but when I had a hard time focusing - I knew I was in trouble.
I notified the kitchen staff I would not be having supper. I plugged my ears with my iPod worship tunes, grabbed my stuff and headed for the chapel. I was begging God with all everything in me to clear my heart and mind out and replace it with only Him.
I have to pause the story here ... please don't be mad. This is where the bear part comes in. However, as I look up at how much I have written already I fear you will be asleep before I get to the good stuff. Soooo, I will share the bear story next time. Instead let me tell you how awesome and amazing my God is.
Later that night at campfire I began chatting with an old friend, Janel - one of the few people I knew at this camp. She started to introduce me to the family connections at camp. You know, so-and-so is married to so-and-so. And this camper's sister is that counselor and so on.
It turns out my mystery character has a lot of family connections at camp and my friend tells me a tip-of-the-iceberg story of how amazing is the grace of God in their family's story. I am totally humbled. God has done a work in that family and He has asked me to write it. There really is a story worth writing! And He really wants me to do it!
My friend Janel, takes to me chat briefly with my character's sister and she is amazed to hear what God told me to do. By the end of camp she encourages me to follow God's leading and write the book.
I left camp in awe. As tears stole down my face I confessed to God my fears about taking on such a challenge. I told Him of my inadequacies and He reminded me that everything that I said that weekend came from Him. That when I lean on Him and not on myself, He fills me with unbelievable power. Power that can change lives. Power that can alter my own state of mind and redirect my course. In fact, power to impact many people through the awesome stories of His grace lived out in the lives of real people.
I suppose I will write that story some day. First I need to talk to this man and see what he thinks about it. I never did tell him the entire week. Maybe his sister did?? If you feel like praying for me sometime, all I ask is that you would pray for my eyes to be opened to God. He is doing a work in me and I want to be open to it. I don't want to let my fear stand in the way of sharing His message to others - whether He asks me to speak it or write it!