We just spent the last four days camping at a state park along the coast of Michigan. I think that makes it sound really exotic to say the campground was “along the coast”, don’t you? I’m not even sure if that is the correct term to use when you are talking about Lake Michigan, but let’s put it this way: The campground was right by Lake Michigan.
My friend, A Musing Mom, and her A Musing Family have spent one week every July for the past five years camping at this same state park. They have to reserve their campsite six months in advance, so we figured it must be a really cool place. This year, we decided to jump on board and find out just how much better a real-life Michigan state park campsite is compared to our usual camping time spent at The KOA, which requires exactly one hour of lead time to make a reservation.
The campground was great, and I do have quite a bit to say about our camping experience. There is so much to write about: the beach, a creek, a really big lake, tall trees, campfires, bike riding, an air mattress that wouldn’t hold air, a prego woman’s struggles with finding a bathroom in the middle of the night and a rock star shower stall that I managed to snag four — count them FOUR — times in a row.
But before I can write about all of that, I need to just document the most incredible display of God averting a storm and opening the sky to make a statement that I think I have ever seen in my life.
A Musing Mom and I have pretty much the same view on camping. It’s great to get away and enjoy the outdoors. But the perfect vacation might include a little more shopping, pampering, meals prepared by someone else and maybe even a Broadway show.
Let’s face it. A girl can only handle so much dirt.
Thankfully for me, A Musing likes to plan little get-aways from the campground to add a little culture to the camping experience. This year, she found out the Christian music group, Avalon, would be performing a free concert at a weekly Sunday evening show, called Worship on the Waterfront, in the nearest little town.
We convinced our combined six children and hubbies to put on their best cargo shorts and the least dirty shirts they could find and trek into the quaint little waterfront town to enjoy a concert by a real-live group that is famous enough to get a bunch of songs on the radio.
Personally, I love a concert, even if the singers aren’t good enough to get themselves on the radio. So I was excited to go and could only hope the audience was going to stand up, wave their arms and do a little woo-hoo-ing.
I’ve never been good at estimating crowd size, but a LOT of people piled into the big outdoor grandstand for the show overlooking the lake. Maybe hundreds, but not thousands. Anyway, a bunch of us were all squeezed tightly onto the metal bleachers waiting for the beautiful people to come on stage and sing with their beautiful voices.
It had been kind of a gloomy day at the campground, but in town the weather was beautiful. By the time the concert started, the sky was still bright and sunny, but off to the right of us, it was black. And when I say black, I am talking black. And we could see the streaks coming down from the black clouds, which could only mean it was raining. really. really. hard.
As Avalon came on stage and performed their first few songs, those clouds were coming toward us.
Can I just be honest here and say it had been a pretty blue day for me already? It was the one-year anniversary of the day our friend, Leslie, had ended her 10-month battle with cancer and went home to heaven, leaving behind her husband and now 3-year-old son. I had been thinking about Leslie all day, as well as some of my own struggles that seem to be dominating my crazy spinning brain lately.
Anyway, looking at those clouds, I had a few thoughts.
First, this was really going to dampen our fun. And I was kind of hoping for a little joy at that moment, rather than drenched clothing.
Next, we were going to have to figure out what to do when the sky opened up and dumped water on our six children.
Would people run out of the grand stand, causing each other to slip as they tried to bolt for the gate? Or would this nice crowd be so considerate they might not even move in an effort to be as courteous as possible to everyone around them?
We were sitting on metal bleachers. Might the lightning strike the bleachers, sending a rush of electricity that would kill all of us in an instant? I always ponder what the headline would say in an instance like that: “500 people killed by lightning at Christian concert”.
But wait! The floor of the bleachers was wood. If we kept our feet down, would that somehow ground us and keep us from getting electrocuted? Hmmm. Should I tell all the children to keep their feet down just in case?
Just as the storm was about to pass over us, Avalon asked the audience to join them in singing a hymn: “In Christ Alone”. The way the stage was positioned, I don’t think the group could see that we were about to be swallowed by a black cloud and torrential rain.
They told us to sing, so we sang.
Behind the stage, was the lake, and on the other side was a hill. At the top of the hill, directly in our line of view someone had planted a tall cross.
As we sang, the black clouds rolled behind that cross. A circle opened in the sky and the sun beamed through the opening, lighting up the cross like a spotlight. Then the black clouds separated and rolled away. The sky turned blue, and the storm was gone.
Gone. Not even a drop of rain.
I can’t even sum up the emotion of that moment. It was like the sun was bursting through not only the clouds in the sky, but the heaviness in my heart.
I haven’t had many moments in my life before that when I felt God was saying in such a visible way, “I am here. I am in control.”
Yep. In control. He is there for me in my struggles. He was there when Leslie died. He is there at a concert on the waterfront. He controls the weather. He is bigger than all of life’s problems.
I think the words of the song we were singing say it best:
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.