Winter CampingJoffre Lakes
Amid test tubes, microscopes, and the science lab skeleton named “Ezekiel,” I listened intently to the lecture coming from the lips of the two seasoned outdoorsmen. Eventually, the floating clipboard made its way to my row, and—stifling the hesitancy—I jotted my name down on the list. It’ll be an adventure, I reasoned.
The next thing I knew, the doors of the 25-passenger bus swung open. The shuffling of snow boots could be heard as we stepped out into the winter atmosphere, eagerly advancing toward our new white home for the weekend. Upon arrival, my friend and I quickly began work on our prospective shelter. Like glistening confetti, snow descended to the earth. After shoveling heaps of it only to realize that our design was defective, we regrettably resorted to “plan B.” Tired, cold, and with hopes thoroughly dampened like the clothes on our skin, we set up our tent. I chuckled to myself, finally beginning to internalize God’s rationale in advising to “pray that your flight may not be in winter” (Matthew 24:20 NKJV). Once we’d established some kind of a dwelling, the two of us nestled ourselves deep into our sleeping bags, trying to regain some warmth.
Just outside our tent, however, laughter charged the air as several energetic students sliced through the snow (occasionally becoming airborne) on their snowboards. Others exercised their technique in fashioning a snow kitchen, and still others steadily chiseled at the walls inside their snow caves as moisture dripped past their determined faces. Through all the activity, a silent prayer reached Heaven with a young boy’s simple request; his petition was for a clear sky to feel the sun, and to see the stars.
God was listening. The next day—Sabbath—his prayer was answered. The freshly fallen layer of snow sparkled under the radiant sunlight. With such favorable conditions, we set off to snow-shoe hike up Joffre Lakes. With a little huffing and puffing, we all eventually reached our chosen destinations. Whether gazing at the gorgeous scenery, sharing lunch with friendly birds, whizzing down winding mountain trails on shovels (our makeshift version of sleds), or even sharing GLOW tracts with strangers, our experiences that day gave us an even more distinct picture of God’s love.
Back at base camp, night fell, and we gathered around the toasty fire. In the final evening spent in our “winter wonderland,” we savored the moments by blending our voices in songs of praise to God, pointing out constellations in an especially clear sky, eating a variety of creative camp cuisine, and reflecting on the blessings that God had bestowed throughout the trip. So even if our flight does take place in winter (which I’m more prepared to face now), I will look up to the stars even in the darkest night, and—almost audibly—hear God’s gentle whisper: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5 NKJV).