Five Life Lessons I Learned on a Camping Trip: Lesson #5 We Never Stop Learning

Paper plates and the kids’ toothbrushes. The two things we forgot to bring with us on this camping trip. Granted it was only our third time camping, but you’d think we would have remembered those two fairly important things. Not to worry we told ourselves, we will just go buy some. We went not once, not twice, but three times to Walmart before we finally remembered to get what we needed. Yeesh.

Our church has recently changed up the way they do baptisms. It used to be we did two big ones twice a year and people had plenty of time to prepare and make sure they were wearing the right clothes to get dunked in. But it’s not uncommon now to walk in the doors and see the Great White Pool of Baptism (ok nobody calls it that, but it made me giggle) waiting up in front. Then at the end of the service, they invite anyone who would like to be baptized to come up, just as they are, church clothes and all, and take a dunk in the tepid water. I’ve watched people go up there who have been Christians for years, the people who I know were baptized before, making their way to that water.

Water has such an obvious symbolism doesn’t it? It cleans, it restores, it revives. In one of my previous posts in this series (you can read that here) I talked about how in the midst of an angry tirade my husband wisely banished me to the shower for a bit of a revival. The water pouring over my skin had the soothing effect he intended, and I came out feeling refreshed, but when I had stepped in it was with a heavy heart. A feeling of when will I EVER get this right?

In terms of biblical characters, I have always related to the apostle Peter. He was a head strong, speak before he thought, impulsive, quick to get angry kind of guy. Patience would not have been listed on his resume. Yet, he was one of Jesus’s closest people. Jesus went into the friendship with Peter knowing full well that when push came to shove, Peter was going to deny ever knowing him. I’m not 100% sure what the bathing protocols were when Peter was alive and kicking, but I wonder if he ever stood in the water, thinking like I did, how much his transgressions clung to him. Weighed him down like a stone around his neck. I wonder if he ever cried out Lord when will I get this right?? 

I had the privilege of being a part of the launch team for Leeana Tankersley’s newest book Begin Again. For a few weeks I had waited anxiously for it to arrive, and the day before we left it finally appeared in my mail box. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was reading it during this trip. Something happened to my heart and soul during those four days, and I haven’t quite been the same since. Things I had clung to as a life line were suddenly shaken away to reveal them for the crumbling fakes they were. Beliefs I had held of myself were swept away and replaced with a more realistic and forgiving version. It sounds so epic and like a once in a lifetime thing, but truth be told, this is not the first time my soul has undergone a remodel, and I’m finally realizing it will not be the last.

When will I get this right? The answer that finally came to me in that tiny space in our trailer, around 8:05pm on a cold night in Northern California was: Never. There will never be a time when I no longer need the forgiveness of my Savior, or when I suddenly stop learning and have all of the answers. The goal is not to not need God!

Those darn toothbrushes never did make their way into our cart, and next time I will probably pack them and forget everyone’s underwear. Sigh. It’s easy to feel like at some point we should just get it, we should know the right steps for life, and stop stumbling around figuring it out. But just as our church has subtly been reminding us with the spur of the moment baptisms, there will never be a time when we are “all done” being saved. We will never stop learning, we will never stop needing God. I will always need a Savior…and a nearby Walmart apparently….

“Here’s what it means to be a human: I cannot see everything, I cannot know everything, I cannot be awake to everything. And It’s OK. It doesn’t mean I’m lost or worthless. It means I will forever be in need of God.” – Leeana Tankersley

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