Each time we use that tent, I can't help but remember the first time we put it up.
Terry and I had camped pre-children, but we had not taken Amanda camping, and she had begun to ask about it. In the Spring of 2004, I was in my third trimester with Kyle, so we decided to take her before a new baby would put camping on hold for a while. We had a great time. We hiked, took a cave tour where we saw a bat which impressed Amanda and provided conversational fodder for a long while. We roasted marshmallows, we popped corn over the campfire.
In preparation for our plans to begin camping as a family, I had bought a larger tent that month at Costco. If you've never put up a tent with your spouse, perhaps you can imagine the last time you tried to put together a child's bike or swingset or a bookshelf. It produces that same kind of marital harmony. Since this was the first time we had used it, and we would be racing the darkness, Terry had sort of taken a look at the tent at home and made sure he understood the general gist of it. This is not a "stick in four rods, stake it in and your dome tent is ready" sort of tent. It's a multi-step two-person procedure complete with warnings about the necessary correct order, and a separate fly overlay. So, when Terry realized that the instructions that he had perused beforehand must still be in the garage in Houston, we were in trouble.
At this point, we had been married eleven years, and fortunately I had learned a thing or two. I think that if this trip had been taken in our first few years of marriage, I might have ended up with a tent pole broken over my head (or stuck through my heart). My newly learned strategy in situations such as this (or on long indirect "short cuts" on the way to a destination), is to remain quiet. I stood there--quietly and out of tent pole reach--thinking and praying, "Lord, guide us in this. Help us get this tent up." Fortunately, as usual, Amanda had found a vacation friend and was riding her tricycle with the preschooler in the site beside us, sparing her from tent pole violence. I kept praying. I wondered what we were going to do. Would we have to turn around and drive the three hours back home? Would we stay in a nearby hotel? Looking up behind our site, I saw not one, but three tents exactly like ours. As you may know, when Costco carries a product, the price is well below normal cost. They probably offered this tent in their Texas stores for a few months, during which many people bought them. Now maybe you understand a little better why Costco has a special place in my heart.
I approached Terry and quietly and respectfully said, "Look, I think that those tents are just like ours," as I pointed behind us. We went over and asked them if we could borrow their instructions, which they gladly lent to us. The camp office let us make a copy so that we had them in the event that ours were gone for good.
It's nice to be self-sufficient and to always be prepared, but to know that God cares about something as small as getting a tent up so that we could enjoy a little family vacation is worth so much more. Each time we go camping, we are reminded of his very real provision.
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Luke 12: 27-31