“Mom, I didn’t make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God.”
My heart sank. I felt my daughter’s deep hurt. I felt it as clearly as if it were my own.
I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door closed. That opportunity slip away.
She’d been talking about going for this special achievement at summer camp for 3 years. Every time we talked about camp, she talked about going for this achievement. But she wasn’t old enough to try until this year. Her 4th year at camp.
Finally, this was to be her year.
She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight…until the fire. She was supposed to light a camp fire with nothing but three matches, one small square of newspaper, and a few sticks of wood.
She struck the first match and held it up to the newspaper. It didn’t ignite. She struck the second match and held it up to the newspaper. It still didn’t ignite.
She stared at the third and final match. Knowing that a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she’d been praying through every stage of the challenge. But now, she didn’t just pray-she cried out to God.
“Please help me, God. Please,” she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame up to the paper once again and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned but the paper did not.
As soon as the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat, and gave all her wood to the girls still in.
There were 9 girls going for this achievement. Six girls were crowned with the highest honor at camp for finishing the challenge. Three girls didn’t make it, including my daughter.
When I arrived at camp to pick her up a week later, she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation. What was bothering her the most wasn’t not getting the camp honor. What was bothering her the most was not experiencing God’s power like the other girls. They all had amazing stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways that carried them all the way through the challenge.
“Mom, I didn’t get that with God. Why?”
This was a tough question. One of those questions as a mom that you don’t want to mess up in answering.
I asked her to help me recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God’s hand. As she recalled every part, I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.
And when she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn’t light. None at all. Everyone else’s paper lit. Hers should have. But it didn’t.
“Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust that there was some reason you shouldn’t have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was right there…protecting you…loving you…revealing His power to you.”
She put her head on my shoulder, “You really think so Mom?”
I whispered, “I know so.”
Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, “Yes, sweetheart, I know so.”