Half Way There

My kids and I have been traveling the United States of America.  I wanted to show them just how big and great this country is while explaining to them that God is even bigger and more amazing because He created many of the wonders that we are traveling to see.

Romans 1:20 explains why I wanted to do this trip with my kids.  “for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”  God’s creation is the apologetic for His existence.

That to me is one of the most beautiful things about God.  He creates such beauty.  Atheism never created anything.

But to see this utter glorious creation, sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone.  And that is what happened with this camping trip.  We are about half way through this trip as I write this, so I thought you’d enjoy my take on camping.

I haven’t officially camped since I was a Weblos when I was a kid.  For those who don’t know what a Weblos is, it is a boy scout that is between cub level and boy level.  So to say that I really don’t know how to camp is an understatement.

I rented a 32’ RV and plotted a trip that would take us to some of the most beautiful God-given sites in the USA:  Niagara Falls, The Great Lakes, The Badlands, Yellowstone, Salt Lake, The Grand Canyon, and many others.  And I planned this to happen over a span of 16 days.

Everyone I told about this trip thought I was crazy.  I kept saying to them, “nah, God’s got this.”

Little did I know that this trip would take me out of my comfort zone, big time, and bring me into a new zone that I like to call, “The God’s got this zone.”

Let me first explain the myriad of obstacles that were in my way (beyond the simple fact that I am NOT an avid camper).

The first hurdle was how to fit a 32’ RV into my very small driveway that is flanked on all sides by either drainage ditches or creek.  Well, let’s just say it didn’t fit.  So I had to use my neighbor’s driveway without his permission when he was not at home.  Thankfully this guy is very nice and was more than accommodating to me taking over his entire driveway.

The next issue I had was actually driving the thing.  In real life I drive a Toyota Prius.  Let’s just say that 6 of my Prius would fit inside this RV.  This thing handles like the Titanic in front of the iceberg.  And on 2-land roads with semis coming toward you at 65 mph, you get blown like a cardboard cutout in Chicago.

My third obstacle was, for lack of a better term, the poop drain.  RV’ers like to call it by other more glorious names such as the Black Water Outlet, but I like to call a spade a spade so it is the poop drain.  Well, ours was never fully closed so the first night, as I am learning how to hook up the poop drain to the camp’s sewer, raw poop and other wonderfully smelling items rushed out onto my hands and arms.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, I actually facepalmed afterward which then placed all that great chum on my face as well (never, under any circumstance, facepalm after coating your hands in poop…take this from experience).

The fourth hurdle was that my dad and I have the same last name.  He met us in Niagara Falls to show us around and take us over into Canada.  That night, it was late, and he checked the passports (so I thought) and gave me what I thought was my passport.  The next day, as I was approaching the Canadian border, I handed the passport to the officer and was immediately met with a barrage of questions.  This then led to me being pulled over, having my vehicle searched, and being questioned pretty intensely by not one…not two….but 6 Canadian border patrol officers.  Over an hour later, my dad showed up with my passport and I was on my way, but not without an escort of RCMP for the first 20-30 km.

The final hurdle to this point out is that I am a single dad taking 2 kids across country (and the Canadian border).  These kids are 10 and 12.  I love them very much, but have no back up as they start to beat each other bloody in the seat next to me.  Fortunately, God’s got this.  A little prayer goes a long way, and no one has been too badly behaved (including myself).  But it is tiring.

But one thing about adversity is that God shows us amazing things.  It makes seeing those amazing things even more, well, amazing.  I’d like to share a few of those moments as well.

First, seeing my kids’ faces light up when they saw Niagara Falls for the first time was priceless.  They could not fathom 150,000 gallons per second flowing over the falls until they stood on the hurricane deck of the Cave of the Winds.  Thousands of gallons of water rushing inches behind them and blowing them from one side of the deck to the other showed them the immense power that a God-given creation can have.  If a creation is that powerful, imagine how much MORE powerful our God is!!!

Next, seeing my kids enjoy swimming in Lake Michigan as we stopped for an unscheduled rest.  We went out on to the dunes in Indiana and the kids jumped right in the water and swam out as far as they could go.  My daughter had this look of complete contentment on her face as she simply lay on her back while letting the water take her down the beach farther.  And while she was there, I had an opportunity to help a family whose pop-up tent was blowing down the beach.  As I spoke to them while retrieving and resetting the tent, we had a great conversation about God’s will in each and every one of our lives.  My kids not only got to experience the majesty of God’s hand with the Great Lakes, but also had an opportunity to meet a family whose strong beliefs in Christ were just as amazing.

A third glorious event was traveling through the Badlands in South Dakota.  It was 97 degrees out, no shade, and we were already running behind schedule.  As we entered the Badlands, my kids dropped their jaws at the sheer beauty of this landmark.  After we had gotten out at the first stop in the loop, the kids had no desire to get out of the car for the rest of the 30 miles.  That was until they found a spot that they could climb through the rock formations.  Two kids who just five minutes prior were at each other’s throats, we helping boost each other up into different areas of the Badlands.  I actually hear Matt tell Kenzi, “Take my hand, Kenzi, I won’t let you fall.”  God used that moment to teach them how to work together better and that they can see beauty more often when they work in unity.  Sounds like a message the church of today needs to hear!

A fourth moment that I will never forget is after we had crossed South Dakota, we were driving to our campground.  About 30 miles from the camp, a major storm wound up.  We were watching in the mountains of South Dakota a remarkable storm.  The lightening flashed all around as we drove closer to the camp.  The thunder echoed off the mountains and made it sound even more ominous.  Both Kenzi and Matt oooooh’ed and aaaaahhh’ed like they were watching Fourth of July fireworks.  God’s beauty can be seen in that which is terrifying as well, such as a thunderstorm.

Finally, one last moment that God showed us His amazing qualities came just today on our half way point of the trip.  We drove through Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming on the way to our camp.  Apart from the absolute beautiful scenery, we saw plenty of wildlife that brightened up the kids (and my) entire days.  Moose, bear, elk were all visible as we traveled the long, windy road.  God showed us His artistic side today.  This is a side that we can easily see but choose not to because of our own life circumstances.

We have had plenty of other amazing things happen on this trip such as meeting a new friend and her kids for some swimming, eating amazing foods that we don’t get a chance to eat at home a lot, and a thousand other picture moments that show me God is present.  I wish I had the time to share each and every story with you, but know that God is waiting to create those moments in your own life.

It may not be on a round trip RV tour of America, but it could be somewhere around where you live or work.    Simply be open to the Spirit’s leading and He will keep you path straight…and beautiful.

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