During the summer of 2006, at a Christian Science summer camp I go to, I went on a three-day backpacking trip with a group. My first thought was that it was going to be an amazing experience. But on the first day of the trip, when I put my backpack on, I thought they must be joking to have us all carry such heavy loads for three days. Ridiculous! Then the counselors explained why we were carrying frame packs—we needed to take all our cooking and camping supplies with us since we wouldn't always have a base camp. But I was still feeling frustrated. How could I possibly do this?
We were hiking through the woods, about halfway to our campsite that first night, and I was thinking a lot of defeating thoughts like, "You're not strong enough." So I started to pray. One of the most basic ideas I've learned in the Christian Science Sunday School, yet one of the most useful, is to put my trust in God if I need help. So I did.
I also remembered being a really little kid in Sunday School and being taught a helpful way to think about the word fear—"False Evidence Appearing Real." I prayed with those two simple ideas, and they kept me going through the day. All of the leaders who were hiking with us were amazing at keeping us in line with spiritual thoughts. They supported us with encouraging comments. As we started approaching our site for that night, I was very surprised that since the time I'd changed my thinking, the hike had gone by super fast!
We left our campsite really early the next morning, when it was still dark out, so that we could make it to the mountain peak by 12:30 p.m. (We had to get there by that time so that we would be safe from thunderstorms.) This time, we only had to carry our light daypacks, which was nice. We crossed many streams in which only one person could go across at once because we had to help each other make it to the other side.
Once we stopped for breakfast, I thought that I saw the peak. So I asked one of the counselors if that was it, and she said no—it was actually one of three false peaks along the way. (A false peak is a small summit that looks like the peak. But when you get to the top, you realize that it isn't the real thing.) These false peaks reminded me of what my discouraging thoughts had been trying to tell me the day before. These fearful thoughts had seemed real at the time, posing as the truth, but I realized they were false. When I got a higher perspective, I saw that I didn't have anything to worry about, because, as God's reflection, I had all the strength I needed.
When we finally made it to the top of the mountain, I was so ecstatic! However, we could only stay up there for about ten minutes because a thunderstorm was rolling in. In the meantime, I got to see the beautiful landscape below and how amazing God's creation is. When we were on our way down, it started to rain, thunder, hail, and lightning. Our trip leaders showed us how to throw our packs in front of us and carefully slide down because we had to get away from the peak fast. The leaders were very comforting, assuring us that nothing bad was going to happen. We all sang hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal like, "A glorious day is dawning," and,"Onward, Christian soldiers" (No. 2, No. 264). And we were all safe during the storm. I wasn't even afraid the rest of the way back. After that big ordeal, we got back to our site and had a nice pasta dinner. Then the next day we made our journey back to camp with absolutely no problems.
We were hiking through the woods, about halfway to our campsite that first night, and I was thinking a lot of defeating thoughts like, "You're not strong enough." So I started to pray.
This trip helped me trust in God more than ever before. I learned that divine protection was always there for me, and that I could rely on God in any situation, whether it be small or big. I got to really prove it for myself. And my whole experience that summer taught me that I could always place my faith in God.
Lauren Sanford will be in tenth grade in the fall, and loves music and hanging out with friends on the weekends.
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