Camping with God's kids (Excerpt from my book "Strong Bonds of Love")
Camping with God’s Kids
August was just the right time for Summer Camp, plenty of swimming, hiking; boating, horseback riding, an open fire, singing, praising the Lord, and listening to the speaker bring the devotions. Joe and Joyce had come along too. Joe was the speaker for the devotions and he was doing a great job. Philip was talking to Joe one night after dinner, “Joe, have you ever thought of becoming a pastor? You do such a fine job preaching.” Joe said with a gleam in his eyes, “Why, thank you Philip, yes I have in fact. I have been taking some courses with Pastor Scott and someday I will want to start a new church somewhere. I am not sure where God is leading me yet, but I have had my sights on a couple of places.” “That is great!” exclaimed Philip, “I hope you won’t be leaving us, but we must go where God leads us don’t we.” “That is true,” said Joe, “I have felt God’s leading me to a neighborhood right on the other side of town.”
One of the ladies of our church lives over that way and she said there is a lot of children there and their families need the Lord. She has a little Bible Story time in the summer and the children are eager to hear God’s Word. Even the older teens that came this year loved singing Jesus love's the little children of the World.” “That’s sounds like a plan,” Philip said stretching.” I will be praying for God’s leading. I guess I better catch up with my kids. They will be waiting for a pillow fight or something before we go to bed.” “Okay,” said Joe, “I better be going too, and thank you for your prayers.”
Philip took the 8th grade boys and Janie had taken the 8th grade girls so she and Philip would be doing a lot of things together with the kids. After their groups were fast asleep, Janie and Philip would try to get away for some quiet times by the fire or take an evening stroll around the lake. Sometimes it wasn’t possible because the kids loved playing practical jokes on them and each other. When they did catch a few moments they enjoyed it very much.
The next day, Janie was taking the girls to go horseback riding when Philip spotted her. “Hi! Janie,” Philip shouted running up to her; his boys were close on his heels. “Where are you going?” Philip said catching his breath. “Well! Hello, sweetheart how are you doing this fine summer morning? ”Janie smiled sweetly. “We are going to ride the horses, where are you going? “We are going to ride the horses too. Philip said. Can we join you?” “Of course you can,” Janie smiled lovingly up at Philip. The boys and girls giggled and said, “Oh, Sweetheart.” The boys teased the girls and the girls teased the boys as they jumped and skipped along side the newlyweds.
All were mounted up and ready to go, as the Wrangler Larry had instructed everyone what he was going to do, and where the group would be going. Larry said, “I want all of you to stay on the trail behind me. I don’t want anyone going off by him or herself. There are wild animals in the mountains and if we all stay together we should be fine. I have done this for many years and will be able to help you along the way.” “Okay,” Philip and Janie said, “Okay.” “We will,” the kids all chimed in.
Riding along the mountainside was scary and one of the girls named Shari started to get a little nervous. Larry the Wrangler who was leading had sensed a little nervousness among the other kids and turned around on his horse to reassure Shari and the others. “Don’t worry,” he said, reigning in a little on his horse, “the horses are sure footed and they won’t let you go over the cliff. It will be all right.” Shari began to relax and started enjoying the ride.
Just as they were coming out of the mountains Philip leaned over to the Wrangler as quietly as he could he whispered, “Larry.” Over in the distance he spotted a mountain lion. Larry became a little nervous himself, but tried to keep Philip calm. “Usually if we don’t bother him, he won’t bother us. Just keep riding slowly and don’t panic.” Janie was riding beside Philip and noticed that he had showed Larry something. She whispered to Philip, “What is it?” Philip motioned to where a few rocks were scattered below the mountain. “Don’t get scared and try to stay calm, there is a mountain lion over there.”
The mountain lion was watching them from one of the big rocks. Larry had a tranquilizer rifle with him for just this kind of moment. The moments grew tense as Larry steered the horses into a totally different direction to head back to camp. Trying to get away from the mountain lion, Larry instructed Philip to take the children to a safer spot on the other side of the mountain so that they wouldn’t get scared and really start causing a problem.
Philip felt God’s presence as he prayed, “Father help me to get these children to safety and help Larry do what he needs to do to protect us.” The children hadn’t seen the mountain lion yet and so when Philip started leading them they just went along trusting him and having a good time. Janie was tense, but tried to relax. She didn’t want the children to see her fear and laughed softly and smiled as they ambled along. Philip was taking them away from the rocky mountainside and danger, through the meadow and to the forest path leading back to the camp. Philip sighed with relief and wondered what Larry was doing and where he was by the time they reached the camp.
It had taken them an hour to get back to camp. As the kids were tying up their horses and telling each other about the great ride they had, Janie went to Philip’s side. “Whew, that was close wasn’t it,” Janie said with a deep sigh. “Yes, it was, I was praying all the way. I hope Larry is all right,” Philip sucked in his breath and sighed deeply. Looking up Janie said with a gasp of excitement, “There he is now!” Larry rode up quickly to where Janie and Philip were tying up their horses. Wiping his brow with his neck scarf as he dismounted his horse Larry said with exhilaration, “That was a close call. That crazy mountain lion decided to come running at me just as you and the kids rounded the mountain. I was ready for him, with a screech he leaped into the air and I shot him with my tranquilizer gun. He fell just about 10 feet in front of me. I know God was watching over me.” “Yes, he was,” Philip, cried, “And we were praying for you the whole way back.” Janie smiled as the tension slowly seeped away. “Thank God you are okay.” “Yes, I am thanking him as well; I have one question for you.” “What is that,” said Philip. “Did the kids ever suspect anything?” Larry asked questioningly. “Nope, and thank God for that too,” Philip chuckled a weak little chuckle, “it could have been more disastrous if they had.” “Yes, it would have,” smiled Larry shaking his head as he headed for the corral.
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