Summer camp is a highlight for many children. The year my younger brother was old enough to go to Bible camp, we were sent off together.
That first night I slept in a teepee tent on straw with half a dozen girls I didn’t know. In the early hours of the morning, I awoke from my familiar nightmare, afraid and disoriented.
I could hear some of the others beginning to stir, but I pretended to still be sleeping, ashamed my sleeping bag and pajamas were wet. In the mess hall for breakfast, shame grew as I heard the whispers telling me others knew what had happened. I spent the rest of the day attending the planned activities as a shy shadow, alone in the crowd.
That evening the flames of the bonfire danced brightly as kids of various ages laughed and sang loudly while the sky darkened and stars appeared to join the gathering. The heat of the fire did not reach me as I sat back from the crowd still nursing my shame. Most of the kids wandered off to get hot chocolate before turning in for the night. I remained in my silence, contemplating the message the speaker had given that evening.
He had spoken the familiar message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I had heard the story throughout my young life, and believed it for my salvation, for eternity.
Suddenly, the darkness brightened. Perhaps someone put more wood on the fire, but the illumination seemed to be from a man now sitting beside me on the log bench. Our conversation went something like this.
“God loves you.”
“Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave so you could live with God forever.”
“Yes, I believe that.”
“Because Jesus lives and you believe, God will stay with you. God knows your life is sometimes confusing and hurtful and He is sad about that. You are young, so you can’t change what is happening. But God will hold your hand and be with you through it all, especially in the dark. Would you like that?”
Abruptly, the man was gone. I left the fire to go to the tent. The night was dark but I no longer felt alone.
God has remained with me throughout my life; in all circumstances, even in my own rebellion. I know He will continue to hold my hand on the journey I take now.
God is present, and that makes all the difference.