Ten years ago, when my youthful husband and I were more adventurous, we bought a little tent. We were going to a Christian music festival in Willmar, MN, and thought we could save a little money by camping out on the grounds. Now, neither of us really had much camping experience, but the tent just kind popped right open and was ready to go–so a no brainer, we thought. We could do this. It would be fun, right?
Tent and sleeping bags nicely tucked in the trunk, we headed off on a very ambitious 4-day trip. It was a crazy mixture of business and vacation. We arrived the first night and stayed in a hotel, because I had an interview a couple hours away in the Twin Cities that next morning. It stormed and rained like crazy all night and into the a.m., and that put my nerves on edge already. But, we had been looking for the opportunity to move from North Dakota to the Twin Cities and I just felt like things were lining up. I had already had two interviews for one job that I ended up not getting, but this would be the second interview for another job opportunity at a performing arts theatre. So exciting. My husband also had an interview lined up at a community TV station that would be the “bookend” of our trip. I just knew God was moving.
The second interview went great, and they said I could call them the next day (this was before cell phones). So, we travelled back two hours to our music festival, full of optimism and ready for some good tunes. The ground was still a little soggy, but no matter. We found a spot for our tent and got it all set up so after enjoying hours of concert sets, we could just fall into our little nest. Well, we had a hard time finding the car in the dark–and the Kumbuya campfire antics by younger campers didn’t make for great sleep–but we made it through the night just fine.
Day 2 of the festival. Wow, it was windy! Really windy. But, the tunes were great so no matter. I found a pay phone to nervously make my phone call to my potential employer in the afternoon. While I did that, my husband ran back to our tent to get something. Within 10 minutes, our tune changed. I didn’t get the job. Brutal! And Joe showed up to reveal that our tent, along with our sleeping bags inside, was in a tree. Seriously, the little L-shaped tent “stakes” that came with the tent were not made to withstand a soggy ground and gale-force winds, apparently. Our tent was IN A TREE, and my new career dream was buried. This trip didn’t seem so fun anymore.
We pulled our tent down, and headed into town to find some real tent stakes and get some food. We nabbed the last tent stakes in the entire town at a local K-Mart, and then had some Sbarro’s pizza. We contemplated just forgetting the festival entirely and heading out. This was too hard. It wasn’t what we signed up for! But then, we bucked up. We decided we were not going to let this lick us, and we were going to enjoy the rest of the festival. Joe still had his interview, after all. We got back with a new resolve and replaced our 3″ stakes with 6″ stakes hammered in good. I decided I was going to worship God that night, even if I didn’t feel like it, and until I felt like it. RESOLVE!
Why did I tell this story that has gone on far too long, and what does it have to do with autism? I tell it only because I came across a great scripture in the Message translation the other day that reminded me of our tent episode:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope…
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around. Acts 2:25-28
I feel like I have pitched my tent in the land of hope. Even faced with my son’s autism, I’ve discovered a little patch of hope to set my tent on while I’m on this journey. But, today, I came back and found my tent in a tree. We had a parent meeting at Josiah’s therapy center this morning and, well, it seems these last six months he’s plateaued in his progress a bit. It’s causing his devoted therapists to have to get creative and rally again to push him further along. I looked at the mountain of “skills” on the progress sheets that must be achieved, and how relatively few are mastered, and I could feel the stakes starting to come up from our tent’s edges. Josiah turns 4 in one week, and time is not on our side like it once was. We’ve all worked so hard to do EVERYTHING we can, and I just thought we’d be further by now. Much further. I want to live in a sturdy, secure house, not in a stupid TENT!
But through the tears, I find the resolve once again to hope in God. I choose to believe him when he says he’s right by our sides on this life-path. He could change everything for our boy so fast. He is the Healer, the Provider, the Restorer, and so I’m reminded to try not to be overwhelmed by this burden that I cannot humanly make right. I’m dependent on him. Wouldn’t you know it, I came across these verses this morning:
Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.
You’re going to need lots of elbow room
for your growing family…
Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short. Isaiah 54:2-4
Okay God, bigger tent. Longer stakes. Not time to pack up and run. I won’t give up on hope. I will stay firm in faith. You said I won’t come up short. I believe you.
(By the way… Joe got the job at the end of that trip, and he’s still working there today. We moved to the Twin Cities, and that job that I was denied for, I ended up getting a month later when their hire didn’t work out. He’s a faithful God.)