My First Camping Experience

With the sun on my face and the wind on my chest, as I was cruising down I10 this Friday evening to on my way to Edwards Mar’Q to see the ‘Avengers’, I had a Deja vu. Just about the same time last week I was going down I10 for my first camping trip ever with my dear friends, the Brookesmithers, from Church (Sojourn, Houston). Cruising on I10, I was filled with nostalgia for the prior weekend and ‘Avengers’ didn’t seem that exciting anymore. I wanted to re-live last weekend all over again. Unfortunately, time machines only work in sci-fis. On the other hand, I can blog and re-live the memories through words. So here it goes…

Even though I was excited to be going to camping. At the back of my mind, I was also having a nagging feeling that after having had a 4 to 5 hour sleep week I really needed to rest and read instead of going camping. After being in the horns of dilemma for a few days, my need to experience something new finally got the better of me. And experience something new, I did, in more ways than one!

The 4 hour journey from Houston to camp-site was filled with good conversations about books, movies and musicals. We talked about stuff from Francis Shaffer to Fiddler on the Roof. The best part was that we got talking about the Disney animation movies from ‘Lion King’ to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to ‘Tangled’. I just couldn’t get Timon’s song ‘in the jungle…’ out of my head. I kept humming it all the way to the camp. My fellow travelers were kind enough to allow my indulgence. We even planned that we’ll watch ‘Lion King’ as a group. Long road trips are real fun. The fun part of such trips is that you get to have good long conversations, undisturbed, with nothing else to distract you except may be, snoring if someone dozes off. 😛 Which by the way did not happen in our car. Our snoozers were all silent and I didn’t snooze, so it was all good. 🙂

By the time we got to the camp, it was pretty dark. I figured that if I missed this chance to sleep outside in the wide open spaces, gazing up at the stars then I wouldn’t get another opportunity to do it. So I decided to sleep on a wooden table. It was the first time I slept without a roof over my head. I tried to look for the milky way it was too cloudy. I read some… then I realized that the night was too beautiful for me to let is slip-by, sleeping. I decided to take a walk at about 1:00 AM. I plugged in my favourite collection of classical music, took two left-over Jack-in-the-box apple pies and walked off into the trails. It was most awesome. It was scary and thrilling at the same time.

Every time I had walked a small distance I would wonder if it would be dangerous to go any further, what if I got lost. What if wolf of bear comes after me. I was just being too paranoid. But then the urge to explore got the better of me and I went on. I had often thought that pioneer explorers are sort of weired people. But it was that night that I understood what made the pioneer explorers tick. An explorer does not go exploring just to have a thrilling experience, rather he is being true to the call that God gave Adam – to exercise dominion over creation. As I was walking through the woods, I knew I was at the mercy of Nature, but I was telling myself that I couldn’t allow it to defeat me. I had to conquer it. I couldn’t allow it to exercise dominion over me. I was the Custodian there. In all my useless late-night exploring, I was feeling deep within me the tug of what makes me truly human – the (fallen) Image of God in me bringing alive within the the Custodian mandate that was given my great Ancestor Adam.

I kept walking… and finally came to a point at which I decided that I had to turn back to get some sleep in. I wanted to take a memorabilia from there… to remind myself of this experience. I looked around and found a small oddly shaped stone which I pocketed.

On my way back, I stopped at a vast clearing in the woods. It was such a beautiful sight. The moon lit the whole area, there was a sort of incandescence all around because of the bright moon light…. the fire flies in the distance, a cool gentle breeze, the rustle of the leaves, the sweet chirping sounds… I stood there for quite a bit just experiencing the timeless beauty of the place… allowing it to GET ME. I looked up at the stars and then ominous trees and then the fire flies. I realized how small I was and how BIG God was.

Paul says that atheists have no excuse, they only have to look up at the sky to know that there had to be a God. I think sometimes, Christians apply this verse only to the atheists, to the exclusion of everyone else. I think this verse applies to Christians too. For, often, Christians, though we know the fact that God is God, we forget that and act like atheists. Often, Christians are philosophical theists but existential atheists. What bridges the gap is reminding ourselves about who God is and who we are. After all, we were rebellious beings before God saved us. The reason why we are forgetful of the BIGness of God and our need to worship and submit to Him is because we are caught-up in our own little selves and petty plans, we do not look up at the sky to see what an awesome creation He has created and continues to sustain it (by holding it together by His Word). When we look up at the sky and beautiful nature, we see how BIG God is. We feel our need to worship Him. That shows us our right place in submission to Him seeking to glorify Him. It sets our hearts and minds in the right place so that we can worship Him and enjoy glorifying Him forever through the whole of our being. I think I was there for about 15 minutes standing and worshiping God for how great He is, and thanking Him for helping me see Him and know Him. That experience was so ingrained in my psyche that it has changed my regular day-to-day worship of Him.

Well, this post is getting too long… we are still in the first night of my camping experience. I suspect I’ll have to do a part II.

Anyways, my experience at camping had a deeply spiritual angle to it which I did not quite expect at all. I saw ‘Avengers’ yesterday and I am sure I’ll forget most of what I saw in a couple of weeks. But what I experienced on my first night of camping, in terms of what it taught me about God will remained ingrained in my memory forever!

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

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