Do Hard Things.

It's so easy to idealize something when you're looking at it from the vantage point of future tense. I had totally and completely idealized my backpacking excursion to the point where, in my head, the sun was shining, my "searching and fearless moral inventory" would flow from my heart effortlessly (and in a short, painless period of time), and I would come away refreshed and spiritually revitalized.

Well, the sun did shine... in patches. It had rained for the previous two days, which made the sand bar I camped on a little damp, clingy, and not as soft as I had anticipated. It worked out, though, because I took all the pine needles I gathered when I cleared around my fire ring and made a soft little carpet under my tent. It was a beautiful drive, and a nice brisk hike about two miles down the trail to my campsite.

I did experience a few frustrations, however, one of which was the campfire (or, should I say, the lack of a fire). I tried for hours to light this stupid fire, and I would get a small flame going, only to have it fizzle out despite my best efforts. Very frustrating indeed. Finally, I gave up and settled shiveringly down to my real reason for coming--Step 4 (cue dramatic music).

"We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40)

This falls under principle 4:
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. 
Happy are the pure in heart. (Matthew 5:8)

So, that's what I headed into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to accomplish. I got about 1/3 of my inventory done-- all the negative stuff! But at least it's out, on paper... and someday soon, in the heart of my dear friend. How I loathe the thought of sharing those things with someone else... It's like inviting a friend over for a meal, then handing them a heaping plateful of last month's rancid compost. Yuck! But, anyway, she has agreed to this willingly, praise God. At least I don't have to hogtie her. That could be rather troublesome... especially if her family caught me. Outnumbered!! Hehe.... It would be like our waterfight night all over again!

Ahem, anyway, back to reality, reminiscing, and recounting. Well, I tired out about 7 o'clock, because the sun was down and, quite frankly, you can only focus on your defects for so many hours at a time. So, I bedded down for the night, and... woke up at midnight, too cold to sleep anymore. I have a real susceptibility to cold because of my hypothyroidism (even at 70 degrees, with socks on, my feet are too cold for comfort!), and it was 43 degrees when I went to bed, and falling. Despite my 3 pairs of socks and down sleeping bag, I was C.O.L.D.

I considered packing up and going home, but I knew that I didn't want to chance running into whatever creatures rule the trails by night out there... so I started to pray.
"God, I really want a fire. I know you can make one. You did it for Elijah. You're all about fire, for crying out loud! Can you please make me a campfire?"
I prayed for some time, claiming promises ("ask, and ye shall recieve", "ye have not because ye ask not" etc.), and searching my heart to see if anything was between me and God, to make me unsafe to bless. Then, I heard a faint crackling sound. I held my breath and strained to listen, my expectation battling with my unreasonable fear that it might be a bear or wolf coming 'round for a midnight snack. I sat up and looked outside, and what do you think I saw?

A cold, empty firepit.

Not to be deterred, I lay back down (realizing that the crackling was my sleeping bag) and resumed praying with a vengeance. Time passed. I managed to contort one foot around to the back of a knee and warm it between my gloved hands enough to drift off to sleep, much to my surprise. I dreamed about the underground house churches in China, but when I startled awake, I began praying again. Dozing off and on, and praying in between times, I periodically checked the firepit, only to find it empty every time.

I couldn't understand. I was claiming promises. I had searched my heart. I was doing everything "right". Shouldn't there be a happy, crackling fire by now? God, why won't you answer me?

Then, God spoke to my heart. "Cassandra, will you still trust me if you don't get a campfire?"

What kind of question is that? I mean, I'm doing everything right, and you still won't give me a fire? That's kind of lame, don't you think? If I can't rely on you in this small thing, what about when I'm faced with that ravening bear I read about? If you won't give me a simple fire, how can I believe Psalm 91?

"Will you still trust me?"

Yikes. This isn't fair, Lord.


Yes. Okay. I'm disappointed, but I will still trust you.

I would love to say that, after I decided this, my campfire roared to life... but it didn't. I still expected to see a fire when I woke up, but nope. No fire. But I still trust God... which was an important step for this healing process I'm in. Even if things don't go the way I would really, really like them to, will I still trust God? Apparently, my answer is yes. :)

I woke early, broke camp hurriedly (and quite shiveringly) and was halfway down the trail by the time the sun came over the mountain. I finally got warm as I hiked out, but not warm enough to keep me from cranking up the heater when I got back to the car.

So, now I know I can do hard things. That trip was a challenge, due to my fear, my dislike of solitude, and my limited survival skills... and the cold, which I detest. But I did it. I survived, I triumphed, and I also learned that I will probably not enjoy winter camping!

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