The Camping Trip & The Two Coins

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Hey everyone. Hope this note finds everybody well. Sorry it’s been so long. Busy, busy. Not too long until Thanksgiving. Unbelievable how fast time has passed. Seems like I only just began college, and here I am thinking of Winter Breaks. My theory is that time seems to pass faster as you get older, but those of you farther up there in years could let me know what you think.

The Camping Trip

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This past weekend I went on a camping trip with the guys in my bible study group. We went to Red River Gorge, if anyone knows where that is. It’s about 45 minutes away from here. We went up Saturday about noon and left Sunday morning. I discovered a new talent, myself. I can break down entire trees, if necessary, when needed for firewood. There are different methods, although my favorite was to climb the tree (that has no low branches) a few feet off the ground. Then, hugging it tightly, I start swaying with it back and forth, slowly building up momentum until it finally breaks under its own weight. If I did it right I could avoid being under the tree when it landed, although that did happen once or twice. I’d say I took down nearly 2 dozen trees, single-handedly, in the time we were there. And I’m not talking trees that were 7 feet tall and 2 inches thick, I mean trees 20-some feet tall 6 inches in diameter. No joke. The guys told me I happened to be breaking down trees the way bears did. Awesome!
It was pretty cold, especially at night, but I kept pretty warm in all my layers and sleeping bag. No one slept very well and we all got up when the sun was out and huddled around our fire. Everyone got ready and we went for a hike. We hiked one mile to Gray’s Arch, which is just what it sounds like . . . a huge arch jutting out of the side of a cliff.
We climbed down around the side of it, hiked through the center of it, around to the back and climbed all the way up the arch to the top. We then hiked the mile back to our campsite and packed up. Only when one of the guys caught sight of his time on his watch while packing did we realize that it was only 8:30 in the morning. Gave us a real sense of achievement for the day, having already taken a two mile hike and rock-climbed that early in the morning. We finished our trip by stopping at Cracker Barrel for breakfast when we got back to Lexington.

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They’ve been giving campus tours here lately. Hard to imagine that was me not so many months ago. I find it most annoying, however, when they get in your way. Imagine walking to class, most likely running late, and getting stuck behind a tour guide shouting out figures and facts to the mob following her.
And lucky me, I just happen to be living in Blanding I. The very building they give dorm tours in. On my floor. In my hall. If I’m ever entering or leaving my room at the same time a tour is being given in my dorm, there are several places I might run into them. First, when coming back from class. Sometimes they’ll be standing outside the dorm doors and I have to fight my way through them to get to the door, then stand there and swipe my card, feeling the several dozen eyes boring into my back. “Did you see that, Ethel? See what he did with that card there, Billy? Now that’s real security they’ve got here, real security.”
If not outside the dorm, then milling about inside it. It’s even harder to navigate through them in an enclosed space. After pushing through the group in the entryway I might avoid them in front of my room if I’m lucky. If not, I have to repeat the same door-opening process with a key to get in my room. Only once did a group have the unexpected privilege of spotting my physique as I was on my way to the shower wrapped in my bath towel. Thankfully only one of the young girls fainted and the medical authorities were not needed.

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Of course, now you’re expecting me to chuckle at fooling you once again and explain that no, I did not get seen in my bath towel, nor did anyone faint . . .
The boy who cried wolf wasn’t believed either.

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Seeing as how this entry is already a few minutes’ read, I considered not including this next story until next time. However, it has been a while since you all have heard from me and I really wanted to share this.

The Two Coins

In Mark 12 or Luke 21 you will find the following story. Jesus is sitting in the temple watching people give their offerings. Some of the very wealthy would make a large display of giving, so that everyone would see how much they had. But a poor widow came and dropped in all she had, only two small coins. This past Sunday night at 608 (the name of the Sunday night service at Southland, the church I’ve been attending) the sermon was on tithing. Mostly financially, but also that of your time and gifts. The speaker shared the story of the widow and her two coins. At the end of his message he had everyone stand up and get out their wallets or purses. He told us to hold those things in front of us and, as the music started, think about the fact that it was not even ours to begin with . . . that God had given us everything we had, and to not tithe would be like stealing from God. There was a large metal bowl on a table in the front center of the auditorium and he told us that during the song, should we feel led to give, we could walk to the front and put our offering in the bowl. We were going to make tithing a part of our worship.

My wallet was empty and I knew it. I held it out in front of me anyway. I even opened it and checked just to make sure God hadn’t worked a little miracle and slipped a “one” in there so I would have something to give. He had not. I stood there, eyes closed, singing and praying, as the row around me emptied. Before long I was the only person in my row, thinking that maybe God was making me stand here to humble me a little, teach me a little humility. “I wonder if anyone’s looking . . . do they think I’m terrible, not giving anything?”
People started filing back into my row and I returned my wallet to my back pocket. The music continued and there was still a long line of people leading to the offering bowl. I wanted to give something but knew my wallet was bare. However, an impression continued to storm my mind: “Get your wallet back out, Josh, get your wallet back out.” Reluctantly, I pulled it back out of my pocket and slowly opened it in my hands. There, just sticking out of one of the inner pockets, was the edge of a quarter. Heart racing, I dug deeper to find yet another quarter hidden deep within. I stuffed the wallet back in my pocket, held the two coins tight within my fist and briskly walked to the front of the room, joining the others in line. Upon reaching the bowl I extended my hand and dropped the two coins, hearing them clatter as they landed. On the brink of tears I walked back and joined my friends in our seats. I still don’t know where those quarters came from. I don’t recall ever putting two quarters in my wallet. It has no change pocket, you see, so I never carry change.
I could now relate to the poor widow giving all she had . . . amazing how the God of Creation sometimes chooses to teach us such lessons using something as small, as insignificant, as two coins.

Hope everyone’s doing well! Have a fantastic week!

P.S. Uh, the bit about the towel and the, err, girl fainting? Yeah, well . . . GOT YOU AGAIN!!!

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