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The help we needed
It was the second session of the summer, and I was working as a counselor-in-training at a camp for Christian Scientists. I was part of a seven-day backpacking program, and our trip had gone very well. We were on our last peak climb and had to get up and over Mt. Harvard. There was decent climbing weather in the morning, and it didn’t look as if there would be any threat of rough weather. This soon changed, though, as we got closer to the peak around noon, which was supposed to be the ideal time to reach the summit, since we needed time to head back.
Clouds began to roll in on our group, and we soon lost sight of the top of the mountain. That’s when a friend joined us.
Our friend was a scruffy mountain goat who had started following us as we got close to the top and would not let up. When we got to the peak the menacing-looking clouds and wind were upon us, and we had to hurry to get down off the mountain. We managed to get off the summit, all the while praying about God’s ever-presence, and our safety within His arms. I can remember one of the ideas we shared was, “There is no spot where God is not.” Although this is a basic concept to pray with, there was something about it that was comforting high up on the mountain surrounded by bad weather.
Then we encountered another obstacle. With all the cloud coverage around us we had no idea which valley we needed to go down into to get to camp. All of us were unsure whether or not the clouds would go away and if the ones off in the distance, which had the look of lightning, would also join. When all seemed to be out of our hands, we looked over and saw the mountain goat standing on the rocks off by one of the valleys!
I realized how true and yet simple God’s First Commandment from the Bible is.
We looked at our map and decided this was the way we needed to go, and the goat proceeded to lead our group through these rocks on a path that would have been very difficult to find. The moment we started to follow this goat we looked up and saw that the clouds around the peak of the mountain that were on top of us had dissolved, and there was a circle of blue sky. For miles and miles around there was nothing but dark, ominous clouds, except for our little circle of blue sky. It was in that moment that I realized how true and yet simple God’s First Commandment from the Bible is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). I saw that even something that appears as unpredictable and mighty as the weather has no power over God. Actually, God is the only power. So even as we make smart decisions about our outdoor adventures, we can’t make weather into a “god” or something we have to worship.
During precamp, before the kids arrived, the camp’s Christian Science practitioner told us how important it was to follow this First Commandment and get rid of any notion there is a power, place, or presence other than God. With the mountain goat (who we all agreed was evidence of God’s care) and the wisdom of God, divine Mind, leading the way, we were able to traverse the rocks and get off the mountain safely. Once we were off, the clouds swooped in and covered the summit again.
This was simply the best illustration to me of the fact that God is right there shielding us under His wing, and that knowing His ever-presence and affirming it is the most effective and healing prayer.
About the author
Riley Capp is finishing up his senior year of high school. He was in the play The Diary of Anne Frank in the fall, and is currently in the musical Legally Blonde. Riley also enjoys choir, dance classes, and spending time with a good book.
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