We went camping as a family this last weekend. It was a lot of fun. Canoe camping. We drove into a National Park, put into a lake and then paddled over two hours before we got to a creek/small river. We took our canoes out and then had to carry our stuff up the bank, down the trail about the equivalent of a city block to our campsite. We got our tents up, a campfire going, cooked some supper. The kids were running around the woods having a lot of fun. Suddenly my daughter started crying and grabbed her chest. She ran over to me. Mom! My chest hurts! I need my inhaler! Ok. I got this. I went and got my ziploc bag full of all my emergency medicine that I always have with me on these trips. (Be prepared!) I pulled out her inhaler with her spacer, handed it to her, she went to press the button and something was wrong. The actual medicine tube had fallen out of the casing. There was no albuterol. Just the plastic casing. Crap.
Ok. Take a deep breath. (Me, not the asthmatic kid.) I stood there, holding her in a hug while I rubbed her back. It’s ok. Let’s get you out of this woodsmoke and stop running around. We’ll find a nice quiet place to sit till you feel better. I could tell she was starting to panic. I was trying not to panic. We just stood there quietly for a while. I got a camp chair and moved it away from the smoke. Sat her down. My brain was racing. Ok. People had asthma long before inhalers came around. I took mental stock of what I had. I could pound on her back to help loosen things up? I remembered that in my medicine bag I had some essential oils. We could put some in boiling water and have her breath in the steam with a towel over her head. Ok. We can do this. I stopped and prayed out loud for her and she slowly calmed down.
It was bedtime. The girls were all going to sleep in their own tent, but this had thrown my daughter off. She asked to sleep in my tent. Sure sweetie. Then it was a domino effect as the other girls decided that they weren’t brave enough to sleep solo if one of the sisters was missing. So then I had three extra kids in my tent. And an empty tent all set up. My husband abandoned ship and took one of the little boys and they went and shared the abandoned tent and I layed down, surrounded by little ones.
As I lay there in the dark my heart was pounding and I found myself fighting off fear. Yes, my asthmatic child seemed to be doing better. But what if her asthma got worse? I imagined us jumping into a canoe in the middle of the night, paddling for hours, and then driving trying to find a hospital for her. My other daughter said her head was hurting and she had a runny nose. What if it was Covid? What if she suddenly got really sick in the middle of the night, and here we are, out in the middle of nowhere??
And I found myself casting out a desperate prayer, God how do I stop living in so much fear? And he answered me. I lay there and God showed me image after image in my head of how I view Him. My warped understanding of Him. My default worldview that has me thinking of God as someone distant who constantly disapproves of me. I come to him as a slave to a harsh master, crying for mercy, but not sure about getting it. And then he brought to my mind a dream that he had given me back when I was nineteen years old. In college. I didn’t even know what a prophetic dream was back then. I just knew that the dream had been different. I told my roommate, I think God was trying to tell me something in a dream. And after I told her about the dream she said, Yes! God was definitely telling you something! I wrote the dream down. But, I still remember it vividly.
I won’t go into all the details of the dream. But it was essentially, God loving me as a groom loves his bride. And I thought how different, how much stronger my faith would be, if I could fully grasp how loved I was by God. How my prayers would seem different. Asking for help from your lover is so different from asking for help from a Master. I know that if I asked my husband for something, he would want to do it for me. Just because he loved me. And he would take pleasure in giving it to me.
We read the story last night of Jesus with his disciples out on a boat in a storm. And the disciples were all freaked out and Jesus stops the storm with his words. And then in Mark 4: 40-41,
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Do you still have no faith? And then they ask, Who is this? And that seems to be really key to not being afraid. Having a true understanding of who our God is and having faith that he will stay true to his character. Religion and law teach us that God is someone that we are constantly trying to appease by being good, following the rules. Relationship with God is different. It’s understanding that he First Loved Us and then he Made A Way for us to be reconciled to him because of his Great Love for us.
I feel like I have been on a lifelong journey to move from the position of viewing God through Law to the position of viewing God through Grace. I’m not there yet. But, I feel a lot more like I know how to pray. I know better what needs to change. God, let me understand you better as a God of Love. Let me walk in a fuller understanding of your Grace. Increase my faith.