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By KEITH ANDERSON
Every year about this time I head to Juneau for a week of Bible camp. While every year is noticeably different due to a mixture of new and returning campers, as well as for staff, each year has a rather predictable pattern. The first day or two are marked by ‘getting to know’ one another. It’s awkward for most, uncomfortable for the introverts and fun for the extraverts. A week can seem like a long time if your ‘stuck’ at camp with someone you don’t like or know very well. For the younger campers, the third day is a day of homesickness as it may be the first time away for some. But this quickly passes as the next day everyone knows what to expect and is engaged in the busy schedule of arts, crafts, study, games, water activities, free time followed by skits and singing at the camp fire and Hi’s and Low’s in the cabin before lights out. The last day is one of mixed emotions as goodbyes are shared countered by the excitement of returning to families at home.
Well, this past week, all was going well until the end of the second day when, after supper, I felt a burning sensation just below my rib cage. Not wanting to spend the night off the road system, I walked out and visited Bartlett’s ER room, arriving somewhere after 10 p.m. By 10 the next morning I was headed for surgery to remove an infected gall bladder. I spent the remainder of the week recovering — alone — as camp ran its course.
Why, I wondered, did this have to happen this week of all weeks? Would my role at camp be a detriment to those I left behind? Or worse, would I even be missed? Seriously, when left to one’s thoughts, a host of possibilities find their way into the mix of “why me/why now” state of reflection due to unplanned circumstances.
In truth, stuff happens in life. While it’s good to have a plan at the beginning of every day for what I’d like to have happen, rarely does any day turn out exactly the way I would have thought it should. I sometimes wonder if this was true for Jesus back in his day. Did he start out the mornings after his quiet time knowing that he’d preach a couple of lessons here and there, heal a couple of blind or lame folks, engage some Pharisees, all before the sun set? No, I think not. When asked where he got his power and why he did the things he did, Jesus said simply, “I only do what I see the the Father do. (John 5:19)” How simple. And as amazing as Jesus must have been, it’s clear that he didn’t heal everyone, nor ‘fix’ everyone or their troubles, nor straighten every relationship. He discerned God’s will on the fly, and acted accordingly.
One day at a time. Mindful. Intentional. Focused on what matters most. Rooted and grounded in the big picture of God’s work through time and history. When stuff happens, know that it’s just a part of life in this world. And know also that God walks with you in both the good days and the bad. And as reflections might happen, ask God to reveal what you can learn from the situation.
The Rev. Keith Anderson is pastor of First Lutheran Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.