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Raccoon Cabin



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Occasionally I hear people tell how God recently revealed Himself to them. Then someone asks the person how they know that the revealing was from God, at which point the person explains that God didn’t do it through lightning or thunder or a shooting star, but instead through a series of undeniable signs— they just knew.

And I’ve said that before too. After all, it’s true. God specializes in subtlety. He gave us minds, and He expects us to use them to seek out His will. God doesn’t reveal Himself through lightning or thunder or shooting stars or anything like that. It simply doesn’t work that way—at least not in my life.

Except, once it did.

The summer after my freshman year of col­lege I decided to father 45 children. Put it an­other way, I took a job as a counselor at Camp Kulaqua in Florida.

Each week nine boys, donning baseball caps of various loyalties and walking well ahead of their parents, dragged their suitcases to Raccoon Cabin, my summer residence, for a week of good clean fun.

I braced myself for five weeks of pandemo­nium. The constant threat of missing campers, pillow raids from neighboring Panther Cabin, and the regular food fights kept me more alert than I cared to be. Sometimes as grapes skimmed my face, I found myself daydreaming about a nice quiet breakfast with the sports page.

But the joys far outweighed the hassles. My favorite group were the Cub campers, the ador­able 6- to 8-year-olds who hung from my hands and neck at all times and stole my heart just as often.

“What time do we get up around here?” one of them asked me the first evening.

“About 7:30,” I said.

“Seven-thirty!” he exclaimed, pointing at my digital clock, which read 7:24. “That’s in just a few minutes!”

“No, no,” corrected another camper. “Andy means 7:30 a.m. Right now it’s 7:30 f.m.

Along with the satisfaction, though, came responsibility. As the campers’ “hero” for the week, I was a potential link to Jesus. Intent on getting my new friends excited about God, I poured everything into our worships—amaz­ing angel stories, spectacular descriptions of heaven, the Jesus who laughed—I tried them all.

Still, partway through Junior II camp I began to doubt the worships I was giving. How could I reveal God to my campers unless He revealed Himself to me?

FIREBALL

Late Thursday night of Junior II camp I woke up to a freezing cold cabin. Apparently one of the kids had cranked up the air conditioner—no doubt one of the same kids now curled up like a snail.

I jumped down from my bunk, switched the air conditioner off embalming mode, and tip­toed outside to thaw in the muggy Florida night.

From the front porch my searching began. What am I doing here? I thought. I have only a week to show these kids a God that I can’t prove exists.

As my eyes closed, my thoughts evolved into prayer.

God, I prayed, I’ve got nine kids depending on me to show them You. But sometimes I really have doubts. I just ask that when I open my eyes You’ll show me a shooting star.

A person can’t see the entire night sky from the front porch of Raccoon Cabin. But then, just above Fox Cabin, a giant orange fireball gripped my opening right eye. My breath halted in mid-inhale, and I watched in abso­lute awe—and terror—as the fireball arched slowly through the clearing above Bear Cabin.

Stunned, I stood pondering how to respond, then started to sink naturally to my knees. But suddenly a mangy black cat I’d never seen ap­peared at the corner of the cabin and sent me fleeing inside to my bunk, where I marveled at and cried to a very real God deep into the night.

I’ve thought a lot about that shooting star. It was the only shooting star I saw at Camp Kulaqua—and was by far the biggest, bright­est, and most deliberate I’ve ever seen. And it appeared the very instant I opened my eyes.

I can’t help concluding that millions of years ago, long before Cub campers and baseball caps, an eternal Father knew that a young father-in-training would need a little encour­agement on a particular June night.

So at just the right time He tipped just the right star and ordered that it hurtle through the galaxies, ultimately breaking into view directly above a certain circle of cabins in Florida. In short, it gave its life.

For me.

This story originally appeared in the June 20, 1998, issue of Insight. At that time Andy Nash was assistant editor for Ad­ventist Review. He’s now a professor and pastor at Southern Adventist University.

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