by Mary C. Goodman © 2012
The camp dinner bell was surrounded by log cabins and a lodge where our meeting times were held. All the cabins had front porches. Often couches and various parts of bunk beds would be pulled out onto the porches for sitting and communing with other campers. High-schoolers are and always will be my favorite kind of people. So naturally this was my favorite area to chill. Free time in the afternoon. A lot tended to happen then. Whole entire relationships could begin and end during free time. Fear busting rock walls and zip lines were conquered. Water balloon wars and shaving cream fights, crying through painful memories and laughing until we peed our pants all happened during free time. But, resting in the comfort of safety, friendship and cruddy old couches also happened during free time. As a camp counselor, I relish the time a teenager is willing to share with me and let me into a corner of their hearts. Free time was the best time.
As soon as darkness fell, however, this communal hang out area became something else entirely.
Specifically the camp dinner bell became a target. Goals were set, plans drawn and costumes (or the lack thereof) were decided upon.
I don’t enjoy planning. It’s stressful, time consuming and too detailed. I don’t like to take the light switch covers off the walls before I paint. My clothes are chosen every morning one piece at a time based on whatever matches the first pair of pants I pull off a hanger. Artwork becomes whatever it is when it’s done. It seems more like art to me and less like a project if it’s unplanned. And don’t even think about dinner. I never do. Why my family still asks me what’s for dinner after all these years is a mystery. I don’t even make grocery shopping lists.
Writing works about the same way. It starts with an idea and then as I write, I sort out my thoughts and they hopefully arrive in a sensible way at the end. Really I have to try hard to stay on track with my original thought. Tons of other ideas start flying by and it gets distracting. So, planning in my writing? It’s there, but it’s just not super obvious.
However, regardless of my lack of planning when it comes to life’s minor and insignificant details, I do still have an idea of where I’m going in life. Major on the majors, minor on the minors. A wise pastor said that to me once a long time ago, and it must have stuck because that pretty much sums up my approach to planning. I planned to go to college. Check. I did not, however, plan on a major and sort of figured that out as I went along. English is a good major, right? But I did plan to have a husband who possessed certain spiritual and moral convictions. Check. I planned to have children and raise them to know Christ and not be jerks. Check. When I was 11, I chose a plan for my life that promised there is more to life than making pointless plans and chasing meaningless goals. Check.
All of these major plans, except maybe the college major one, were brought before God at various times in my life. As best I can tell, I sought His guidance when making these decisions. Life has not been without its surprises, challenges, joys and disappointments. But, for the most part, so far so good.
My first indication that something was amiss, however, that last eventful night after a week of summer camp was the sound of about 45 feet pounding past the front of my cabin at 11:35 p.m. Outside to investigate, I saw nothing. After listening to the crickets for a few minutes, I rejoined my girls who were whispering together a plan of their own to ambush the boys’ cabin later that night. Once again, the 45 feet rushed past my cabin in the other direction. Okie dokie. This time I resumed my post on the front porch, determined to wait them out. There was nothing but crickets and stars for a while. But, then Logan’s tall lanky, moonlit silhouette came into view, strutting towards the center of the cabin circle. Logan was shirtless. He was also shoeless, and clutching a towel around his waist. About the time I figured out Logan was wearing a towel he suddenly turned towards me, stared for a second, and yelled “run away! run away!” Whereupon, Logan and the still invisible 45 feet took off for the boys’ cabin.
Happily figuring I had spoiled whatever plan Logan had, and trying but failing to contain my humor, I again returned to my cabin. By this time my girls had figured out something was up. I spent another minute or so trying to explain to them why we had to follow camp rules, when we were interrupted by the camp dinner bell clanging away. At midnight. Thanks to Logan who had realized his goal: to ring the camp bell at midnight while naked. Probably one of my favorite camp stunts ever. But wrong, actually. Very wrong. Hilariously horribly wrong. To all my teen readers: don’t get any ideas.
I’m not sure how much time Logan spent planning his escapade that night at summer camp, but I am certain that he had a plan. He had lots to consider. Timing, wardrobe, trustworthy cohorts, execution, escape. Yet, after at least one false start, he saw his plan through to fruition.
The question, though, is not whether to plan or not to plan, but maybe how we approach planning is the key.
38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39
I love those verses. Gives me chills every time I read them. They will find themselves fighting against God? Holy crap. No thanks. I don’t need to fight against God. I have enough trouble just fighting against traffic every morning. Nope. I want whatever plans or activities I have decided on to be of God. How that gets accomplished will probably always remain somewhat of a mystery, but that’s what keeps me coming to Him. And that’s what He really wants anyway. I’ve got lots of ideas and plans to work on for the future that don’t involve ringing camp bells in the buff, but (no pun intended), I know that whatever those things are, God will be guiding me through.