Under the Shadow of Mighty Wings.
As my first day of Taiga driving came to a close, I began looking for a place to spend the night. The last official camping spot was at km 203, but I still had a ton of day left at that point so I continued on. It was getting late when I rolled into the Belvedere near Keyano…somewhere around km 300. A little road goes to the top of the tallest hill in the area. 360 views all around, including the dam to the east.
I breathed a sigh of relief. This would be a great camping spot. It was a little overcast, but otherwise very calm and quiet…and such amazing views. I setup the tent after fixing a broken strap with duct tape. I wandered around a bit and took some pictures, then had dinner: KD with tuna. One of my camp staples.
At this point it was spitting rain, but didn’t seem like it would go on. I retreated to the tent, downloaded pictures to my laptop, and wrote about the day’s journey. It was getting dark and the wind was picking up. I knew that sleeping with a tent flapping in the wind could be annoying, so I moved the Jeep close, on an angle to help block the wind, then tightened the tent stakes, and added the extra lines to the fly. At this point, it was a bit windy and raining, but not any worse than previous experiences.
I woke up around midnight…the tent was flapping loudly.
The side of the tent was occasionally bending down, touching me…which was getting me wet due to the rain. I moved over, but it got worse. A particularly bad run of wind had me holding up an arm to keep the tent from hitting me again. It continued to get worse. Before long I was sitting, then standing…holding the tent up.
During all this I had started praying that the storm would die down. I’ve had experiences when the storm did stop, so I believed it would get better. It didn’t. But something did happen. The rain stopped. I took that as my cue.
I got dressed as the wind howled and emerged from the tent. As if to point out how bad the wind was, the tent instantly flattened without me in it to hold it up. The crazy thing is, all of the stakes were still in, everything was still attached as it should be. The wind was just that powerful. I quickly threw all my stuff in the Jeep. Knowing there was no way I could pack the tent in the wind, I un-staked it, disconnected the tent poles and threw it under the rear of the Jeep, with my pack of water on top to keep it from blowing away. As I was packing up, lightning started streaking through the sky in the distance. A thought ran through my mind of how crazy it was to be on the highest hill in the area in a thunder storm…
I sat in the crowded Jeep, hugging my pillow. The whole thing was rocking back and forth in the wind. The rain picked up again, so I couldn’t really see much of the lightning as it crashed around. I was tired and did sleep fitfully. But for the moments I was awake, there was a strange awe that filled my mind. I emerged in the morning…and realized that the wind, which was still howling was now coming from the opposite direction as before.
I’ve realized that I don’t tell this story well. I’ve told it to a lot of people, and the response is one of concern… For me, there is something amazing about the experience. I’ve always kind of wanted to experience a true storm while camping…yet knowing that I really didn’t want the fullness of what that would entail.
God’s power was on display. A power that can flatten tents, rock Jeeps, and flash lightning. A fearful power. A terrible power. Yet, the same power stopped the rain at the right moment, and provided safety in a different shelter. This terrible, mighty power of God is one that can be caring and loving, without changing in ferocity.
It’s hard to explain beyond that, but as I sat in a rocking Jeep, blown by the wind, there was a feeling of awe, a feeling of being covered. Covered, pardoned by a God who doesn’t have to become less mighty to do so.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”