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One Of Many Miracles

The Night That God Came to the Camp Fire


By —— Bio and Archives--March 28, 2018

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The Night That God Came to the Camp Fire
Jesus’ disciples were greatly impressed at the miracles He was performing as they went about their evangelical business. He was healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, regularly dodging death in various attempts on His life, and He even restored life to people who had died. Miracles were certainly flowing from the merciful heart of a loving God. But the miracles were also intended to drive home the authenticity of Jesus’ divinity and to underscore His invitation for our salvation. Just as we are told throughout Scripture, Jesus Christ - whether you want to hear it, or believe it, or not - is God in human flesh. He is that, even at this very moment!

When His disciples expressed their amazement at the miracles that accompanied Jesus’ ministry, He told them that the works He was doing, His disciples (followers) would do, and even greater works as well! (John 14:12)

I am a believer, a grateful disciple of Jesus. And, while I haven’t yet raised anybody from the dead, I have certainly witnessed many real miracles in my own life - quite regularly. Further, I fully believe that He is preparing His followers for fantastic miracles yet to be performed. As the day of His return gets closer, raising the dead will certainly be included in those miracles. This story is about one of many preparatory miracles that have happened in my life. Every miracle God gives us is a story that is meant to be told to as many as we can. Because each time the story is told, God is glorified, and another invitation is given by God to the listener to receive life everlasting.

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Years ago, when I first settled in Colorado, I had the delightful privilege every Thursday - weather permitting - of jogging up Barr Trail to the summit of Pike’s Peak. If one is not looking to break any records, a round-trip can take about six hours. From the bottom of Mount Manitou, where the trail begins, to the tiptop of Pike’s Peak is a little over 13 miles. One particular weekend, in-between Thursdays, I decided to make that trip an overnight camp out. Because I wanted a workout for my legs, I spared no luxury in all the stuff I took along with me - from lots of delicious canned goods, to a heavy-duty air mattress built to handle a rhinoceros.

I could not find my very favorite canteen, though, a huge metal antique with a piece of old horse blanket stitched to each side of it. It had been missing since I’d loaned it to a friend at work - a fellow carpenter who had quit without returning it. I loved that canteen and was looking forward to draping it by its strap artfully across my bedroll on the top of my huge backpack. Sadly, I had completely forgotten what had happened to it. I even prayed that God would find it for me. He has often quickened my memory in helping me to discover what I’ve done with all sorts of things. But not this time. Instead, I had to stop at a store and pick up a cheap plastic replacement so I at least had water with me on the trail.

I started out my hike late Friday afternoon, and I filled up the cheap canteen at the trail’s first stream crossing at the top of Mount Manitou. [This was back before the snow melt and spring water in those high mountain streams had been declared non-drinkable.]

I made it to Barr Camp well after dark. A big campfire was blazing in front of the old log cabin that had been built in the 20s by the Forest Service in order to provide bunks for the workers who helped to clear and shore up parts of that trail. There were already a half dozen guys sprawled around the fire. I had heard them talking and laughing at least a mile earlier on the trail as the waning sunset was being replaced by twinkling stars and a full moon. Everybody had his can of beans warming in the coals. I threw down my pack and joined them. The conversation seemed friendly enough. Nevertheless, it was obvious that I had come in the middle of a lively argument. We all traded names. I opened up my can of gourmet spaghetti, set it fireside, and the argument continued.

There were two groups of people at the camp that night: Three of them, climbers, were on their way up to the summit to use their ropes and gear for a technical climb. The other three were just some hiker/campers who had done a day in the highland woods and would be going back down in the morning after a night’s rest. In the discussion, the climbers were involuntarily represented by the biggest mouth in the group, and he was telling everybody how science had totally disproved the existence of God.

I had already heard most of what he was preaching. Nevertheless he was giving everybody a sound scolding for being so numbskulled as to believe a ‘fairytale’ like the Bible. Talking as loud as he could - I think mostly to appear confident in his presentation - he rattled on about how everything from our digestive system to our eyeballs and brains could be easily explained by a series of billion-year-old accidents that had happened at various scientifically-named periods of our evolutionary development.

Most of the people, it was obvious, had surrendered the argument to him - simply because he never stopped talking even to breathe. As I surveyed his audience, I noticed that everybody was really too preoccupied with eating to pay much attention to his pedantic rant. There was, however, a kid, one of the three descending hikers, who was hanging on his every word. He looked like he might have been about high school age. And the loudmouthed climber’s lecture was giving the young man some problems. It was obvious that his Christian Sunday school upbringing had not prepared him for the pseudo-intellectual beating that this Darwinian blowhard was dishing out. I just sat silently and watched the kid’s expressions as his simple faith was being torn to shreds. I ate my spaghetti and waited for my opportunity to speak. As I did that, I was looking at everybody reclining on their backpacks with their gear scattered all around them in the pulsing firelight.

Eventually, Sir Edmund Hillary took a rest. And it was my turn. God had given me precisely the argument that would do the trick: “I can prove there is a God,” I blurted out as he finally took another breath. The windbag atheist looked at me in shock. His mouth was so agape I thought he was going to lose his beans. “I realize you are new to this discussion, buddy. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that you don’t know what you’re talking about. No one can prove there is a God.” I looked back at him and answered, “Relax yourself and watch.” I looked across the fire at the young man who had been most affected by the false science of the cocky atheist. “I want to thank you for the errand God had you do for me.” The kid looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “You talking to me?” I said, “Yeah. And I want to thank you for bringing me my canteen!”

He looked down to his side, and looked back at me. “Yeah, that is my canteen,” I said. I gave him my name and old Texas address. I then instructed him to, “Look at the bottom of that canteen and tell me what it reads. You will see that it belongs to me.” Everybody around the fire dummied up as he picked up the canteen and flipped it upside down. The rusty chain that kept the cap attached to the vessel rattled loudly in the stillness. The young man switched on his flashlight and silently mouthed my name and old address as he read what I had scratched there years earlier. He looked back at me as I pulled my wallet out of my hip pocket. “What kind of joke is this?” He asked. With his flashlight still lit, I showed him my old Texas driver’s license. He turned white.

None of the onlookers had volunteered a word as that drama unfolded. In just a short discussion with my new friend, I discovered where he had acquired my canteen. He bought it in a yard sale from my former workmate who had effectively stolen it from me. Looking mostly at the genius evolutionist, I explained to everyone how I had just that morning prayed that God might help restore my canteen to me. I then had the opportunity to tell them the good news of Jesus’ death and ressurrection.

I asked its owner if I could buy my canteen back from him. Still in shock, he handed it to me and said, “HERE! IT’S YOURS!” I gave him my new green plastic canteen and forced him to take a five dollar bill. I said, “I don’t feel so bad about taking it from you. You will at least have water with you on the way back down tomorrow.” He and I shook hands. Everybody else was gasping in amazement. The self-appointed bastion of modern science sat mute in what appeared to be fear and incredulity.

Since I asked Jesus into my heart, a little over 40 years has gone by - like lightning. In all that time, no more than a few days have ever gone by without my experiencing, to one degree or another, some miracle from God happening in my life. I have many amazing stories to tell anyone who will listen. Jesus told stories everywhere he went. People love to hear stories. And Jesus loves to give his children stories that they can tell to people who are dying, literally, to meet Him and to have the life that He brings. Every miracle God performs is intended as a loving invitation, to anyone who is listening, to come to Him and receive everlasting life. As Billy Graham used to often remark ... with every invitation - regardless of one’s response - a decision is made. I want to believe that the man who was so ardently defending Darwin’s fable that night has since found Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

The time of the end is fast approaching. And with the cessation of time will also come the end of invitations and opportunities to choose the life God freely offers to all those who want it. God will always be the same - yesterday, today and forever. If today you have heard His invitation, harden not your heart.


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Dave Merrick -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dave Merrick, Davemerrick.us is an internationally known and published artist whose works reach into the greatest diversity of audiences. Known primarily for his astoundingly lifelike portraiture, Merrick’s drawings and paintings grace the walls of an impressive array of well-known corporate and private clientele. Many of his published wildlife pieces have become some of America’s most popular animal imagery.

He has more original work in the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame than any other artist. His wildlife and Southwestern-theme work is distributed internationally through Joan Cawley Galleries of Scottsdale AZ.


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