When away from home...
God is never far
Last summer I went to a Christian Science camp. I was in what's called the Challengers course. In Challengers, we peaked a 14,000 foot mountain, went rafting, did lots of hiking, and did the ropes course.
The ropes course is like an obstacle course made of ropes. These are connected to trees 40 feet high up in the air. I'd never been on anything like the ropes course, or ever been that high up in a tree. Although you're always connected to a safety harness, just the thought of it was challenging for me. But I was determined to finish it successfully. And I trusted that God was helping me.
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There were five parts to the course. First was a narrow rope ladder leading up to a suspended bridge with no sides. These parts weren't too challenging for me, and I made it across with little fear.
On the second section I had to slide my feet sideways on a rope while pushing on another rope to keep my balance. My fear of falling tried to make me forget that God was with me, guiding and supporting every step I took. A counselor reminded me of that and helped me pray. With some renewed faith, I started the second section.
At the third section I had to slide across a rope while holding on to vertical ropes. There were five vertical ropes, and they varied in length. Being short for my age, I was afraid I wouldn't reach the third and smallest rope.
At this point I really wanted to get down. But then my fellow campers and counselors started gathering beneath me and started cheering me on. I thought of what a friend shared with me earlier. She told me, "If you fall out of God's hands, you land in His lap". This thought made me feel safe. I realized that I could never leave God's presence. So I kept moving.
When I got to the third rope, I reached out and grabbed it with ease, instantly realizing that physical traits were not a factor when it came to God. A huge smile spread across my face, from ear to ear. I continued on, feeling the love and support from God and my friends. When I got to the end of the section, I still had the smile. I finished the fourth section with no more fear, even when the wind tried to blow me off course. I was so focused on God and my spiritual self that there was no room for fear.
When I got to the last part, called the "leap of faith," the thought of jumping off a 40-foot-high platform didn't even faze me. The rope I was connected to was controlled by other campers, who would catch me and slowly lower me down to the ground. I finished the ropes course with the support of prayer, my friends, and a smile.
I am so grateful that I could truly be myself at camp and share spiritual thoughts. I learned that you can rely on God in everything that you do, no matter if you are fearful or happy. God is always there and you are always with God.
Jessica, 14 / Portland, Oregon
My week away
I went for an "outdoor pursuits" week with a group from school. We did things like kayaking, rope climbing, orienteering, hiking, and nature observing. I shared a room at the camp with three other girls. I had never been away from home alone before.
I woke up one night, quite suddenly, at about 2:00 a.m., feeling scared and overwhelmed. As I paced the room, I felt scared in the dark and I missed my mum. I didn't wish to wake up the other girls, and wondered what could be done to help me sleep. My mum had told me almost a million times before to think of something really lovely, and that would lull you off to sleep. But I had trouble coming up with anything nice and happy to think about.
Then I realized what I could do. At Sunday School I had been learning what steps I could take in situations such as this one. We had talked about God being omnipotent (allpowerful) and how fear is nothing but a mistake. It can be dealt with by praying to know God's love and presence. So I turned to God to gain peace.
I prayed and prayed as I had never done before. It was like climbing out of a pit. I thought about how Mum takes care of me, and that God takes care of us both. Then it was as if a friendly voice from heaven said to me, "Who says you cannot sleep?" Then, "Sleep in peace, no one is going to stop you!"
So I crawled back into bed. And I slept. The next morning, I woke up feeling awake and refreshed. Thus, I enjoyed the day.
For the rest of the week I was bubbly and happy. I didn't have trouble sleeping anymore, because I'd seen the truth that good is always present and that God loves me. I was voted for being a "hero" by some of my peers for my achievements during the week. Most special of all, I learned more about our Father-Mother God's healing care for me.
Hetti Russell, 11 / Barton on Sea, England