In early October around mid afternoon, the F150 pulled into a campground on Rock Creek. Gear quickly shifted from the truck to the site, I used a flex hose to connect the propane tank to my camp stove, and headed down to the stream for some solo fishing. Not another fisherfolk in sight, and the trout bit eagerly. A great beginning, and I cleaned the two keepers.
Time now for dinner, so I got the tamales and chili ready to heat, but the stove showed no flames. At all. But the lantern at the top of the post worked, so I knew the tank was giving out gas. So I played around a bit to isolate the problem. After shifting connections in every possible manner, clearly the flex hose had a clog—one I couldn’t fix.
Being a bit addicted to warm food and hot coffee, I was a bit bummed. OK, a lot. The closest store was a 50 mile roundtrip, and likely closed late on a Sunday. The prospect of cold meals for several days didn’t delight me. But rather than getting sucked into misery, I went “natural.” The site had a fire ring with a ½ grate, so I laid a fire in the ring and the frying pan on the grate, and ate well.
Breakfast featured bacon and eggs and coffee, all cooked on an open fire. Honestly, I liked it. More “organic” by far, I had the smell of wood smoke each meal, and a lot of memories came back of dad and I cooking over an open fire. The only problem—cleaning the soot off the pans on my return. I could deal with that better than frustration.
But that exemplifies an important part of following Jesus. Difficulties may choose us, but we choose our response to them. To wallow in misery, or to acknowledge the problem and adapt and make the best of it. And to praise the Lord anyway.
I struggle with this passage, but know it works, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
Again, we don’t ignore problems, but we respond with what we can, and rejoice in God’s presence and love, which far transcend any trouble we face. And, we get peace. Maybe not bacon cooked on a open fire, but peace. I’ll take that.
Kick Starting the Application
Think of a fairly recent problem that brought misery, one that hung around longer than you wished. What made it so bad? What increased the misery for you? How could you have improved the process? What most keeps you from choosing rejoicing as a default state of mind? What decisions can you make now to decrease future misery?