My family loves to camp. A few years ago on this date, we were in Williams, Arizona, at the Circle Pines KOA. While visiting Circle Pines, it hit me as to why I am drawn to “campers and campfires” so much. Camping is an activity that everyone can participate in. Sitting at that campground in Williams, I posted this on Facebook to my family and friends.
We were recently on a mission trip with our church and Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was telling their director, Jodie, why I love camping so much. She replied with some profound words that I will never forget.
I had told Jodie that we had recently camped in the nearby town of Baileyton, Tennessee. At the campground, a Newell RV pulled in. I had never heard of Newell, so I looked the brand up. The RVs start at $2.2 million. We consistently saw million-dollar Newmar coach buses, followed by tents, homemade campers, regular pull behinds, fifth wheels, and everything in between. As I was expressing my love of how people, regardless of circumstance or socioeconomic status, can partake in an activity TOGETHER, and at the campground, we are all campers. Jodie commented with her profound words that are forever engrained in my mind. She said, “Isn’t that what heaven is going to be like.”
I actually teared up when Jodie said that. What I love and search for here on earth, a common ground for all people gives us a glimpse of what heaven will be like. People who drive the Newells and people who use their last dimes to buy a tent will both get to walk the majestic streets of heaven if they have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts.
I think it is important to note that people often forget that heaven takes all kinds. Yes, we are to support those with hardships and destitute circumstances. However, the gentleman in the Newell may have never heard or seen God’s love either. God wants to see that gentleman in heaven just as He wants to see the family of campers who made it to the campground with every last bit of effort that they had. He loves everyone and wants everyone to know Him.
It is important to note that even unknowingly, we surround ourselves with people similar to us, from the cruise ships that we board to the hotels we pick. That is what makes camping so special. We are all a bunch of folks from all over the world, each with different backgrounds, reasons, and socio-economic statuses, who love camping. By God’s design, we all find ourselves at specific campgrounds at specific times together.
I will never look at camping the same after Jodie’s words. I will actually probably love to camp more than I already do, and I didn’t know that was possible. However, the difference is, I will not look at campers as a group of people who love to camp, but rather a group of people from all walks of life who I will hopefully be able to fellowship someday in heaven the way that we fellowship at the campground. I am a pretty friendly gal, but I will purposely smile more and look people in the eye as our paths cross.
After the mission trip, I will also see the campground as a place to share God’s love. As we meet these passerbyers who are seeking happiness, relaxation, adventure, and the great outdoors… if only for a moment, I want them to see a reflection of God’s hand and saving grace through our family…. through the words that we say, the facial expressions that we make, and the love that we radiate. May God bless you all, and we will see you on the road!
Would you like to learn more about Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries? Give them a call or send them an email. They will love to hear from you! You can also visit them in person. Here’s where to camp in the Smoky Mountains.