Ready to move out
This summer DeDe, Terry, and I took part in a youth camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This area of majestic mountains, covered with vast stands of tall Ponderosa Pines, is one of my favorite places in America.
To get to camp, we wove deeper and deeper into the Hills following a long snaking dirt road called Pasa Sapa Road (This is the Sioux name for the Black Hills.) Upon arriving at Kamp Kinship, we were greeted by the friendly staff and soon made ourselves right at home.
One of the first things the Camp Director did was to instruct all drivers to park their vehicles outside the front gate. They were shown how to park in lines with the vehicles pointed out toward Pasa Sapa Road.
My inquisitiveness at this was answered by one of the men who had lived in this area all of his life: “Up here in the Hills a forest fire can spread very quickly. This time of the year is when dry lightning storms rake across this area. One lightning strike in these dry hills can spark a spreading dangerous inferno that destroys everything in its path. We are parked like this in the event of a fire coming near the camp. In that eventuality, the camp bell would ring non-stop and everyone would sprint to the vehicles, load up, and evacuate immediately. Our instructions would be to not even go back to our cabin to grab anything.”
This plan to “be ready to move out” made an impression on me, especially after Wednesday night. After ending a wonderful evening service of singing and sharing, we headed back toward our cabins. In the distant NW sky over the mountain, one bright flash of lightning split the sky after another. My friend Stan said, “Yep, that’s coming from toward Wyoming. This is just the type of storm that sets off fires in the mountains.”
After midnight the storm roared over the camp. There was no rain but plenty of howling wind and bolts of lightning and thunder. Fortunately, no fires were ignited near Kamp Kinship. Only later did we learn that several fires erupted at different locations in the Black Hills. Later that weekend we traveled into Wyoming and saw a huge wildfire that had been burning since the Wednesday night lightning storm.
Parking the vehicles pointed out at camp “ready to move out” gave me several thoughts about being ready. Here are a few:
Being ready to live – If only we would daily decide to live as if this was our last chance to suck in oxygen and see the sunset. Man, I want to be “ready to move out” and attack life with passion and joy.
Being ready to die– “No man is ready to live who is not ready to die.” No one gets up in the morning and says, “Well, I believe I’ll probably go out and die today.” Deep down inside, we humans all secretly believe we’ll be the one exception to the rule and live forever.
One time after the sudden death of a beloved young man in Dry Creek, an older person said, “When you put your shoes on in the morning, you don’t ever know who’ll be taking them off you.”
“Living ready to die” for me entails living in a personal relationship with Jesus. He is my rock, friend, savior, confidant, and guide. I’ve trusted Him for every aspect of my life, including my eternal destination. I can confidently face death knowing He is holding not only my hand, but my destiny.
Living ready to die also includes keeping a short account in my relationships with those around me. I choose not to let hurt feelings or a bad experience keep me from being in touch with others. If there is a problem, I go to them. As needed, I will apologize and seek to make things right. That is a part of living joyfully and with gratitude.
I’m going to also point the vehicle of my life so I can be ready to go… or content to stay. Many of you have heard me speak of Brett Thornton who has a tattoo on each arm. One says, “R 2 G”, while the other arm states, “C 2 S.”
These tattoos sum up his life mission: “Ready to Go, Content to Stay.” It is an attitude of readiness to go where God leads: Ready to jump in the vehicle and spin out if the bell of God’s Holy Spirit rings out. At the same time, possessing a quiet peace that we can trust God if our instructions are to stay put and dig deeper where we are.
Ready to live
Ready to die
Ready to go… content to stay.
Always ready to “move out” when needed.
Moving up… and moving out,