from the pen of Jeff Joyner
Camping was a regular part of my childhood. My dad used to love taking us on family outings, either at a state park, or on our way to Michigan to visit relatives. He always made sure we were fully equipped with the finest gear, to weather the most challenging of environments. I used to watch with anticipation, as he would unload our station wagon, and assemble our camp site. In just a short time, our tent would be up, and my mom would be busy frying potatoes on the portable gas stove.
Although we always had the latest and greatest camping equipment available, there was one simpler item that seemed to capture most of my attention. It was our Coleman lantern. I was completely fascinated with it, and how it could light up our campsite, even on the darkest of nights. If truth be told, there was another reason I was enamored with it. I was deathly afraid of the dark. Actually, it wasn’t the dark that I was afraid of, but what was growling or slithering in the woods around me. The lantern somehow gave me a sense of protection from the surrounding dangers.
One year, my dad decided to take us to a completely different campground we had never been to before. When we arrived, I noticed something that troubled me right away. The nearest public bathroom was a good distance from our campsite, and I would have to walk down a dirt path just to shower, brush my teeth, and get ready for bed. When I expressed that concern to my dad, he said, “Just let me know when you’re ready, and I’ll walk down there with you.”
After we ate dinner and sat by the fire for a while, I knew the time had come. I was going to have to walk down that path. And even though my dad was going to walk with me, I still had a great deal of anxiety regarding the dangers we might encounter. When I finally told my dad I was ready to go, he did something totally unexpected. He grabbed the Coleman lantern instead of the flashlight. As he lifted the lantern over his head, he said quietly, “I will walk in front of you all the way there.” As we walked toward our destination, I began to truly understand, even as a child, that this is exactly what our God does, for each and every one of his children.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Psalms 27:1 NLT