Do you love camping? I can’t ever remember not. My parents were both educators through and through—both by profession and by heart—and during our summer vacation breaks they’d take us on camping trips somewhere wonderful…often to a national park or to visit relatives, but always somewhere very fun and educational (my mom’s ploy for getting Dad to sign on)! I could write a book about our misadventures, as could probably anybody who grew up in a family of campers.
Alan did not grow up camping, and his idea of a good vacation was a motel with a warm pool Until. Until we became a family of 6, since most motels in the U.S. allow only 5 people per room, and renting two motel rooms per night was definitely not in our vacation budget. So, 30 years ago we took up camping again.
There’s nothing quite like it. At motels, you always feel a little insecure about whether or not to say “hi” as you pass in the halls, because you know everybody’s tired, hurried, hassled, and probably wants to be left alone. Campers are friendly. At a campground, everybody is a new friend just waiting to happen. People aren’t out to impress you; they’re out to relax. Pressure down; warmth up. Folks are sitting around the campfire, not the T.V. The smell of pines…the sound of the surf…the comfort of covers snugged up around you. Open air, open spaces, open hearts! It’s exhilarating! So, last Friday Alan and I ventured to Grand Haven State Park for an overnight of sheer delight, soaking up some of the the last golden rays of autumn in Michigan. We’d just returned from South Korea the previous weekend, time-whacked and sick with colds. Alan spent his week waking up at 2-3 am every morning and working 12-15-hour days trying to catch up at work, and he was totally beat. I packed a picnic dinner and supplies for breakfast, a warm down comforter to make sure the wicked wind wouldn’t freeze us, and everything I could think of to make our adventure “J.P.” (just perfect). In fact, everything was pretty much just perfect, until it was time to clean up for bed and I realized that I hadn’t packed any towels! I only had one little dish towel. Now, I suppose for many people, that would be no big deal, but Alan and I are as fastidious as coons about washing, and a night without bathing was unappealing! Alan graciously gave me the dish towel and used his tee shirt for his towel. We both had hot showers, and it didn’t take long before we were warm, dry (enough) and snug under the covers, but I had to laugh at myself for forgetting something so basic. How can you keep clean and dry without a towel? Here’s my thought. The scripture talks about Jesus washing us with the “water” of the Word (Ephesians 5:26), but I also noticed that when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he wiped them clean with a towel (John 13:5). The water of truth loosens the grip of dirt on us, but it takes applying a towel to remove all traces of dirt and leave us looking dry and clean instead of “all wet.” I think spiritual cleansing is the same. Not only do I have to allow the Word of God to shower over me each day, I have to submit to the Lord’s towel drying (application) in order to be truly pure and holy. I mustn’t forget the towels, or other people might look at me and say, “You’re all wet!” How ’bout you? Let’s not forget the towels! “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey” (Joshua 24:24).