Thursday, November 29, 2012

Campfire Morals - Bus Shenanigans

The Story
In the summer of 2004, I went on a week-long trip with several people in my youth group to Cummings, Georgia.  This was part of an on-shore mission trip to assist a church with their Vacation Bible School.  This still stands as one of the greatest trips that I have ever had the pleasure of going on, but of course any good story will have its humorous misfortunes.  If you know anything about me, my life is generally full of those sorts of circumstances and I am pleased to inform you that this trip doesn’t disappoint.

Normally on these types of trips with the youth group, we were told to leave our cell phones behind.  Being the reprobate I am, I promptly packed my phone and charger first thing.  In my defense I always like to be overly prepared when going on trips and I dislike having to rely on others to transport me or deal with things that I should easily be able to take care of myself.  So it was more the survivalist instinct in me that packed that cell phone.  So we all met at the church and continued down to Georgia where we split into our separate housing; girls in the pastor’s basement, and guys in the assistant pastor’s living room.  It was from there our adventure started.

The church had been preparing the community for this VBS (Vacation Bible School) but we were the final kicker.  Every day we went out canvassing the town to invite kids to join the church that night and that the bus would pick them up from their house and bring them back.  Now there were a few buses going in different directions all over the community.  In fact, the church had enough buses that one of them wasn’t even in use because it wasn't necessary.  After canvassing was over, we all got on various buses with the drivers to pick up the kids and take them home after VBS.  We did this every day then once VBS started, we either helped run the show or we did odd jobs around the church. One such odd job was cleaning up that bus they didn’t use.  In fact, it hadn’t been used in over a year!  It was in need of a good cleaning and to be run because it had sat on the concrete so long that there were indentations in the ground from the tires.

However it was the final Friday night that the humorous misfortunes began.  VBS was coming to a close and it was a very successful time with children accepting Jesus as their savior.  Apparently my youth pastor had instructed us that we were not supposed to get on the buses this night.  We were supposed to stay behind and clean up the church gathering all the things we had brought so that we could leave first thing in the morning.  I didn’t hear this as I stumbled out of the church and hopped on a bus with not only one of the teens from that church that I really enjoyed spending time with, but also one of the kids who had gotten saved early in the week who liked picking on me, so I knew it was gonna be a fun ride.

The bus had close to thirty some kids on it to begin with and one by one we dropped them off at their houses.  It was after dark and around the time that the bus driver was explaining that we were headed into the “bad neighborhood” that lo and behold the bus breaks down right beside a very sketchy area.  We tried several times to get the bus to start back up but with no luck.  The bus driver had no cell phone neither did anyone else on the entire bus with the exception of me.  I handed my phone to the bus driver who called the assistant pastor.  He got someone to hop in the bus that we had cleaned earlier that week and went to the rescue.  It was a great thing that we were able to get it cleaned up and ready to be driven.

Unfortunately leaving a bus sitting in one spot for a year does things to the tires.  As he pulled into the school parking lot across the street from where our bus was sitting, POW!  What sounded like a massive explosion rang through the community as the tires on that bus burst.  I literally couldn’t contain my laughter at this point.  Here we were in a bad neighborhood with close to 23 kids with two broken down buses.   At this point we were approaching 45 minutes of being past the time we told parents we would be there so one by one the kids called their homes using my cell phone to inform their parents of what was going on.   Eventually the assistant pastor showed up in their large passenger van to cart around all 23 of us to where we needed to go. 

The Moral
If there was ever a time that I felt God’s hand guiding my actions and putting me in the right place at the right time it was on that trip during that bus ride.  I mean let’s just look at all of the facts about this story.  What are the chances that I would not only pack my cell phone but have it with me at the time that I so randomly picked the one bus which so happened to break down and have no means of communication to the church or families if I hadn’t been on there.  That's too many things lining up to be an accident.  I believe that God placed me on that bus, and if he didn’t prompt me to pack my phone, He certainly used it to His glory!

So what can YOU get out of this story?  Well I’d like to bring up Romans 8:28 which says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  I’m sure there are situations whether they are big or seemingly insignificant where you are facing difficulty.  It may be something where you look up to heaven and ask “Why, God, Why?”  In our limited human minds we often times cannot see how good things can come from bad situations or we question how God could have allowed something to happen.

I fully believe in Romans 8:28.  All things, even terrible circumstances, eventually turn into something grand in the large scale of your life or even the world.  People have grown closer to their family or to God only because of illness.  People have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus only because of a death.  If a door of opportunity slams in your face it’s because there’s something else you’re supposed to do that will shape who you are even more so than what you had in mind.

I think of a friend of mine in Hawaii.  His life is riddled with hardships and disappointment, but because of that he is in the opportune place to be sympathetic to others and help them through their hard times because he knows their pain.  Similar with myself, I can use the gospel and my own experiences with divorce to talk to others about relationships with younger people.  Every hardship I have ever endured was bad in one way or another, but honestly I’m glad for them.  Each mistake, each malicious event helps mold me into who I am and allows me to help someone else and glorify Christ in the process. 

So if something is going on in your life that you don’t understand or you are having difficulty in, take comfort in knowing that not only is this temporary, but it’s there for a purpose even if we never know what that purpose is till we reach our Heavenly home.  God will put you right where you need to be and at the right time.

And to end this week's Campfire Moral, we have a message from my old youth pastor


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