Happy Campers

I was actually looking forward to that miserable morning!

I’d crawled out of bed before the crack of dawn, brushed my teeth, jumped into my clothes and, minutes later, pulled into the parking lot just before the gym doors opened. 

George was the gym’s best trainer. I’d watched him from afar for a very long time. He got results – great results - month after month, client after client.  He even trained professional athletes – household names – people even I had heard of. 

Yep. George was the best, and everybody knew it. 

George and I would always say hello, and we’d chat from time to time. Then one day, he offered to give me a free training session! All I had to do was show up at 5 AM the next morning!

I was elated!  A free session with George! I counted the minutes and pulled into the parking lot - ready for an hour of torture.

And George did not disappoint.

George cleaned my clock.  He pushed me harder than I had ever been pushed.  He paid no attention to my gasps for air, winces, and even a groan or two.  Nope. George knew what it would take to get the results I wanted - and he was going to make sure I got them.

I did my very best to do whatever George told me to do. I pushed. I pulled. I ran. I jumped. I did it all without question, until finally – yes, finally – he told me to stop.  I was a hurtin’ puppy for sure, but I had no doubt that it would be worth it. If I kept up, I’d be a very happy camper in the end.

When I said goodbye to George that morning, I could barely walk. I was exhausted, dripping with sweat, but smiling ear to ear. 

After I got home and took a shower, I opened my Bible and began to read: "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze … your right hand sustains me;  your help has made me great." (Psalm 18: 34-35)

As I read that passage, the words sounded eerily familiar. Yep. Just like George had a training plan for me, God had a training plan, too!  But I had to admit, I wasn't very cooperative when God was trying to train me.  Why did I do whatever George asked yet stiff-arm God with grumbling and questions?

After all, when George put a weight in my hand, he was helping me build a muscle. But when God put a challenge in my life, He was helping me build a much greater treasure. George was training my body, but God was training my heart and soul. 

When God puts difficult people in my life, He is helping me learn how to love. The roadblocks help me learn patience. The failures are making me humble and kind.  Even the horrible losses and tragedies teach me perseverance and perspective.

Yes. God is designing an obstacle course to soften my heart and strengthen my character. And the reason He does it is so that my life will be filled with love and blessings. Those challenges in my life were never put there to hurt or destroy me. They were strategically placed by a loving God for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory.

And so I pray that you and I will have the strength to obey our ultimate trainer, and we will remember that blessings lie on the other side of every challenge He gives us. For God is wise beyond measure, he sees a bigger picture that we can see, and He loves us more than we can imagine.

But best of all, He promises to make us very happy campers in the end!


All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it,
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

-Hebrews 12:11