Camping Escapades 5 – The River – Psalms 103:8-10

I think we can finish this one today. I still chuckle when I think about that day. What goofs we were! Camping escapades, here we come! “Let’s go down to the river, down to the river, down to the river to pray.”

While my friends were busy paddling around below in the yucky, brown river, my friend and I decided to walk across the train bridge. After all, how bad could it be? So, it didn’t have a bottom. Agreed, it looked pretty long. So what if it looked like there hadn’t been any trains on it in years. So what if it’s late on a Friday afternoon. The chances of any trains coming through at that time of day were slim to none.

And so we set out walking across, taking in all the sites, feeling pretty pumped that we were on our way to freedom and a nice warm dinner. Our friends would yell things up at us every few minutes, but we didn’t hear them. We were too busy watching our steps.

Just relaxing.

About five minutes into our walk across the bridge, we hear what sounds like a train whistle in the background. I’m thinking it’s just my imagination playing tricks on me. It had been a long day; I’m tired; I’m on a train track. What else would you hear when walking along a train track? No, it couldn’t be. We chuckled.

A TRAIN, A TRAIN, A TRAIN – Oh my Gosh, it’s a train!!!! I have to admit that back then, in that stage of my life, “Oh my Gosh” is not what admittedly came out of my mouth. Sorry, Lord, it was worse than that.

Here we are on the train tracks, walking along leisurely, having to watch every step, and a train is “coming along the mountain when she comes. She’ll be coming along the mountain when she comes”…..Do you understand where I’m headed here? Do you understand what I’m saying? There’s a train, and she’s ON OUR TRACK- HEADED TO THE BRIDGE – THE SAME BRIDGE WE’RE ON RIGHT NOW!  Ahhhhhahahhahahhahhahaahhahh

Did I mention we started screaming? My friends in the dingy below scream up, “Jump, you idiots, jump!”


Forget that! I’m not jumping. We both started running like cheetahs on the track. I have never run that fast on a set of train tracks in all my life. I never ran with such precision as I did that day, and I haven’t since then. The more we ran, the closer the train got. The faster we ran, the faster the train came and the louder the whistle! My best friend and I were booking it down the train tracks. What seemed like a short distance earlier now seemed miles away because we had the engine of the CSX bearing down on us hard and fast. When I say it was bearing down on us hard and fast, I’m not kidding, and as I caught a glance over my shoulder, I could see the train approaching the bridge, and his whistle was getting louder with every step.

The end of the bridge was finally in sight, only fifteen feet or less to go. We could do this. We could make it. I already started thinking about what I would do when I got to the end of the bridge. I would have to jump off the side and into the brush below. My friend would jump off the other side – if we made that is without a misstep. Frankly, had I misstepped, there was no guarantee I would have plunged to the river below. I could have straddled a bar, and then I would have been in bigger trouble. There wasn’t time to think about it.

The train had now made its way to the middle of the bridge and was closing in on us fast. This guy wasn’t putting the brakes on.  My friends below watched in horror. We could no longer hear panic girl scream for us to jump in the river. The train’s engine was drowning her out. There’s always a silver lining in everything. Oops, sorry, back to what happened.

We got to the end of the bridge, jumped, and tumbled down several feet, landing in a pile of small bushes. The train blew by us, car after car. A few stickers and scratches were nothing compared to the alternative.

When I think back to that moment, I can’t help but thank God for saving my life. Clearly, God was present that day, and we didn’t know it. I would not come to appreciate the full scope of what happened till much later. We could have been seriously hurt or, worse yet, killed, our bodies most likely dropping into the river below. How we managed to run full speed down a train track with no solid bottom, I’ll never know. I do know if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t be able to.

So like the Lord.

God is exactly like that, though, when I think about Him. He is always there, and oftentimes, as a matter of fact, many times, we don’t even realize it. We get ourselves into situations because of pride or poor choices, and instead of admitting we messed up, we pridefully choose to fix it all ourselves. Instead of choosing to repent, we stand our ground as if it’s the best ground to stand on.

It would have been much easier for me that day to accept the help being offered. Oh, how it would have been easier for me to choose to be patient, look at all the options, listen rather than choose my own options because I was frustrated with the panic girl and the chaos in the boat. Maybe then I would not have put myself or my best friend in danger. Who would have thought a real train would have come down the tracks at the very same time we were on it. After all, since arriving at camp, we hadn’t seen or heard a train go by.

My life has come a long way since the days of the Suwanee River train run. Now, I seek God’s thoughts and ways when I face decisions. I seek out what His Word says about things. I try not to run ahead of Him. I’m still working on that one, and He knows it. But God is patient, kind, loving, merciful, and full of grace. I know personally because I tap into those things of Him every single day.

How about some scripture?

Psalms 103:8  – 10, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful; he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love.103:9 He does not always accuse and does not stay angry.103:10 He does not deal with us as our sins deserve; he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.”

Thank God for that! Amen? Amen. Lord, thank you for being patient with me as I make my way through this world I live in. May you be the road map in my life and guide me accordingly. Thanks for the patience, mercy, and grace. Thanks for saving my life that day 22 years ago. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

If you haven’t reserved your very own copy of “The Fruit Wars,” please consider doing that today. They are in print and should be ready by next weekend. We’re excited around here actually to have a book printed, and we would love to share this with you and millions of others (lofty, I know). Please be praying for us as we get the word out about what God has been doing in my life. Thanks, and sorry for the length today.

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