Monthly Archives: September 2015

Around the Campfire (Or the Reality Behind the Blog)

The wilderness, the “out there,” has always been for me the place where He is most real. Almost ten years ago now (it feels like another lifetime), I spent three summers working at a Christian wilderness camp in the Rocky Mountains south of Calgary, Alberta. For me, that has always been the place I remember encountering Jesus the most. That main photo was our backyard, the nearest town was two hours away, showers were hard to come by and we all smelled like smoke most days. Out there, away from civilization, away from all the distractions and noise of modern life, was the place for me where everything else just fell away and only the important things in life remained.

The other camp staff used to joke that we helped people learn to trust Jesus by putting them in situations where they had no choice but to trust Him, and it was true. I will never forget the first night I was asked to look after the site by myself. There’s something about being out in the mountains, 300 yards from the nearest neighbours (uphill through the bush in the dark), trying to sleep in a canvas-wall tent, that sobers one up in a hurry. I very quickly realized that if a bear did show up (and we’d seen them occasionally on the way in so I knew they were around), my odds of getting out of my sleeping bag and then getting out of the tent and making it to the neighbours’ trailer, baring divine intervention, were basically zero. I had to trust that He was there with me and the book of Mike wasn’t written to end with me as supper for a grizzly. That knowledge helped me to sleep that night (even if my fear did get the better of me the next night).

My hope in this blog is to bring a little of that reality to life.

The Heart of the Father

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'” Luke 11:5-13 (ESV)

In this passage, after giving a slightly shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells the story of a man who, out of food when a guest shows up at his house in the wee hours of the morning, goes to his friend’s house for help. His friend, already in bed and with his children asleep, is predictably less than charitable in his response. As Jesus points out, however, if the man persists in asking, sooner or later his friend will give him what he wants just to make him go away. The gist of the illustration is found in the next sentence, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…”

What Jesus is really getting at here is the heart of the Father. Want to know what God is really like? Take a look at the end of this passage. When Jesus asks, “What father among you…?” He gets us thinking of our own fathers. We don’t all have the best fathers (I know that some reading this will have had very evil fathers indeed), but Jesus’ statement “you…who are evil” covers them as well. Only the very worst of fathers will respond to a request from their children in the way He describes. God, who is not evil, will never respond in that way.

Does that mean we’ll get everything we ever ask for, that it’s an instant ticket to big money and the high life? I would have to say no. God is not a cosmic slot machine. That said, it does mean that we can come to God with any request, any issue, any question. The awkward ones, the weird ones, the embarrassing ones, the ones that only we know and we’d never in a million years share with another human being…we can bring all of these to Him. He won’t turn us away, or humiliate us. After all, if a man can get help from his friend in the early hours of the morning for a problem that’s really his own fault, what can’t we bring to God? That’s the heart of the Father, and it is good.

Tomorrow is Never Guaranteed

Two weeks ago, on August 25th, my father-in-law was involved in a serious car wreck. We had just seen him the day before, when my parents, who were down here from Canada to visit, had left to go to Charleston for a few days. My wife and I were sleeping in, enjoying the last day of our vacation, when we got the call and we drove the hour to see him in the ER. As things turned out, he had some bruising in his neck and was in A LOT of pain when we got there, but other than that he was OK.

I mention this because, as we learned more of what had happened, it turned out that things could have been a lot worse, and it is a miracle that he came away with only the injury to his neck. He had been forced to slow down, and then stop, by construction on the interstate. The tractor trailer travelling behind him, which was hauling steel blocks and for whatever reason didn’t stop in time, rear-ended him with sufficient force that his little Nissan truck went airborne into the car in front of him. The truck was a write-off, but when we saw it later in the day, instead of being a crunched accordion like I was expecting, you would have hardly known it was in that serious of a wreck just by looking at it. Now the frame was bent, the driver’s seat broke, and the radiator shot, but the point is it’s a miracle he wasn’t killed.

Psalm 139:16 (ESV) tells us, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Jesus knows the days we will have, and when our last day will be, but as I was reminded on the day a few weeks ago, we don’t know when that last day will come. We have no way of knowing when our last day will be. It may sound clichéd, but it’s true. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

So that thing you’ve been meaning to do, that thing that’s been nagging you but you never seem to have time for, well, make the time. Make the time for your family and for the people you love. Make time for that thing you’ve always wanted to do but have always found excuses for. I can’t imagine getting to heaven some day and saying, “If only I’d had more time.”

And if you’re not a believer in Christ, don’t put it off another day. Look into the claims of Christ. Go to the Bible. Talk to a minister. Send me an email (mike.shewfelt@gmail.com). If you look into His claims and His message and still decide it’s not for you, that’s one thing, but don’t let it pass you by and risk your eternity simply because you feel you can’t make the time. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.