By Brad Hutchcraft
Life is definitely different nowadays. Including planning family vacations. After being very careful and sticking close to home the past several weeks (due to some at-risk health factors), it was time to get away for a few family days. After exploring some options where we could still be careful but could also stretch our legs, we took the camping plunge!
Now, we've "camped" as a family before, but then again, not really. We've just tested things out with backyard camping, but this time, it was the real deal. We headed to a prime camping location, and the family was ready to rock! We had all the key supplies, our tent went up well, and the s'mores were amazing.
And then, sleep. It didn't happen. When I checked my "sleep score" on my Fitbit the next morning, I think it just laughed at me. Sure, it was a great campsite, wonderful location and essentially beautiful weather. Oh, but the wind. We spent the night essentially being attacked by our tent from the outside in. Not much sleep, but a whole lot of memories!
In the early morning hours, when I stepped outside to check on something, there it was - the unspeakable beauty of the endless night sky. Away from lights, away from pollution, and experiencing a glimpse of God's glory.
Growing up, we went camping as a family several times. As I stood there, something my dad reminded me that he would read on each of our camping trips became so very real. It's found in the best-selling book of all-time, the Bible:
"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" (Isaiah 40:22, 26).
Those stars, these verses - they gave me something I needed. Something I think we all need. Perspective. Years ago, my dad told me the story of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. When Mr. Annan was a boy, his teacher came into the classroom, hung a sheet of paper on the wall, and then put a small dot in the corner. He asked his students, "What do you see?", and the voices of the boys yelled out, "The dot!" A huge white piece of paper, but they were focused on the dot.
Our world, our news cycle is very much the same for so many. Each day, we wake up to news of a world on the edge - an epidemic, disillusionment, catastrophes and broken dreams. There are many important issues we face each day, but even the important things can become the "dot." We're bombarded with volatile issues, loud voices, dire possibilities, hard choices. It starts to overwhelm us. And define us. Our eyes, hearts and minds are pulled to a place of focusing on the one dot, and we lose sight of that big canvas.
It's happened to me. I've found myself weighted down staring at the dots. Whether it's how I should shepherd my children through these days or what role I am to play in various areas, there are days I've lost sight of something I've said and meant countless times in my life - "God's got this."
Those verses about the heavens being like our little tent help restore my "God's got this" view, which is crucial to have in today's world. He still "sits enthroned above the circle of the earth." We look like grasshoppers to Him, yet He cares enough about us that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to give us a chance at eternal life with Him (John 3:16). When it comes to the stars, He "calls them each by name."
The camping perspective, the big picture view, is that God is bigger than anything we might face today. He has a plan, even when we can't see it. Others might want to spend their time focusing on the dot or trying to get you to focus on it, but keep your eyes on God's big picture. So whatever might be in the news cycle today, whatever might appear in those social media comments, and whatever you might personally be facing, please remember that God's got this. And He's got you!