Camping, How Getting Dirty Rights the Soul

Do you go camping?  My family and I love to go camping.  And whenever I say that, people in my life correct me and scoff at me and inform me that, “You don’t really go camping when you drag your house on wheels behind you.”  To which I reply, “I get dirty, so it’s really camping.” But yes, the reality is, I’m not laying on the ground in a sleeping bag, inside of a mosquito ridden tent, I lay my head on a glorious pillow atop of a memory foam mattress in our travel trailer, but dude, it’s still camping. Here’s why, my feet are ridiculously dirty at the end of every day!

We do stuff. We hike on trails, we climb up rocks and make up stories about how they got shaped into what they look like, we try to coerce chipmunks into visiting us, I pray the bears remain hidden and don’t realize my kids leave food laying around everywhere, we go stand up paddle boarding, we sit around campfires with marshmallows on sticks and we watch mountain sunsets that take our breath away…..we are camping. Why do we expend so much effort into relocating our family into remote places in the Idaho wilderness for approximately 8 days out of every month in the warm seasons? We have a very good reason, the dirt rights our souls! At least that’s what I told someone last week. I thought about it after I said it and I was like, “I don’t even know what that means, but that’s how I feel.” There is something about letting go of the day to day life and stepping into nature that shifts your spirit, you become more present, more aware. The places we go to with our family rarely have cell coverage, so there is the added benefit of unplugging from the modern world, in particular social media and the noise it creates in our heads.

Last weekend, as I relaxed in my lounge chair around the campfire, with my Bible open to a passage in Luke, 17:3b-4 to be exact, I found myself realizing how much better I absorb scriptures while in nature. Have you read it lately, allow me to share the words of Jesus with you: [3]…”If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. [4] Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent’ you must forgive them.” -Luke 17:3-4 NIV

I’ve read this passage many times in my 43 years of life, but somehow at an elevation of 5,298′ without the distraction of the LTE connectivity, I found myself actually hearing Jesus. I must forgive if they repent. I get it Lord, I get it. He met me there in the solitude of the pine trees, while I was undistracted. That’s what camping does for me, it gives me the white space, the blank pages upon which the Master’s hand can paint His masterpiece. When I’m standing on a trail overlooking the beauty of creation I am keenly and fearfully reminded of what a mighty God I serve. Can I get that reminder at an elevation of 2,605′ (the elevation of where my home is) without pine trees? Sure I can, but God has to work harder there to get me to listen.

Maybe for you, it’s yoga class or a bike ride or cooking or walking your dogs or while you’re driving, but for me, I am most able to hear God when my feet are dirty and I’m surround by His majesty. So yes, getting dirty rights my soul. And the residual of it spills over into my everyday way of life. I had no idea how God was preparing my heart with those verses in Luke. One might think that He was preparing me for the person that would be standing in front of me asking for forgiveness this week? But no. Humility was asked of me this week (and always, am I right?!). Those scriptures were brought back to my mind yesterday as I stood in front of a Godly man and asked him to forgive me for how I had sinned in a way that affected how I treated him. I thought of those scriptures and I prayed them over that situation, I said, “Lord, this is a man of God, so he’s read Luke 17:3-4, right? Can you please remind him of these scriptures and allow him to forgive me?!”

You see, those quiet moments with my Lord and Savior in the days prior to real life, prepared my heart so that God could show me how I needed to be better, how I needed to grow in His love and light. Where do you meet God? Where is the place that you are most able to hear Him? Do you need to go camping and get some dirty feet?

Exploring a mountain trail. August 2018.

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