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When Losing All Power is Powerful

We have been campers for decades. We progressed (or some diehard outdoorsies might say regressed), from being fine in a small thin (read: lightweight to carry, but expect no real sleep on the hard ground) backpacking tent to a larger tent with a floor and sleeping 12 years ago, graduating to a roof-mounted clamshell-style tent with a 2-inch-thick queen mattress that required a ladder to reach (read: not fun when having to get to an outhouse in the middle of the night).

As you might have already deduced, the changes in sleeping arrangements were driven mainly by our maturing bodies. We have no shame about that. Better to upgrade our woodsy lodging than to give up our love of being emersed in the outdoor splendor of the West.

Then finally, just before the pandemic lockdown, we bought a cozy 17-foot camper we could trailer with our 4-Runner. Ahhh... the Taj: a queen bed, full kitchen, a slide-out that makes way for a spacious banquette dining table (that converts to a full-size bed), and a bathroom with dry shower (If you don’t know the significance of the ’dry’ versus ‘wet’ shower, think of having to wipe down the entire room and facilities every time you use the shower.) We were giddy about the luxury of it all! (BTW, her name is Bug.)

My husband, Ron, was ready to conquer the unfamiliar land of camper functioning and maintenance. He is a brilliant techie and businessman, but did not grow up learning about the mechanics of machines and vehicles. Undaunted, he framed this jump into the RV world as a new and needed hobby.

Into our third season with Bug (I got to name her), as you might expect, we have a load of learnings through challenging experiences.

But the real stumper has been how many ways the power can fail us when we are boondocking. (Defined as: camping with no outside access to water, sewer, or electrical hookups.)

Ron has read volumes online and watched countless YouTube videos on every system and every power source involved in keeping us lit up, cool or warm, dry, and nourished. (I had no idea it took propane tanks, massive batteries, and solar panels to keep Bug – and me – copacetic and comfy.)

And yet with each boondocking outing we seem to land in a new position of powerlessness.

Just last weekend... we were giddy about getting to wander our backyard of the San Juan mountains, with a quintessential fall weather report to rely on and our flyfishing and mountain bike gear packed. We found one of our favorite spots open, in spite of it being hunting season, and got set up. Ron put the solar panel in position to soak up the intense sun at our high altitude of 9000+ feet. Our battery was fully charged for running the lights, water pump and all-important stereo. The propane tank would keep our food cold and be ready to heat some water for showers. All good, right?

Yet, by campfire time, when Ron did his check on the power systems, the battery had drained too much too fast – uh-oh...Well, let me just fast-forward to the decision to pack up everything and drive home at 11pm! We wanted to avoid running the battery to the point that it fails because it would permanently ruin it. (One of the lessons we learned by the end of season two with Bug.) Also, there is a safety in the system when the carbon monoxide detector isn’t getting power a very, very loud alarm goes off that will only stop by removing a particular fuse. (Yep, another season two tutorial.)

Wow, thwarted again by a lesson in how we can end up losing all power?!

Beyond the sheer entertainment value for you to read about our amateur RV plunders, there are a couple of significant life lessons that we were able to distill after our shortened excursion last weekend.

1. We need more than opportunities for enjoyable experiences to have times of r & r. We need the power to enjoy what is made available for our pleasure.

God, thank You for the blessings and opportunities you give us to get refreshed and restored. We depend on You to also give us the power to enjoy these ways You demonstrate Your love and knowing of us. (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20, 3:12-13)

2. Sometimes we need saved from ourselves. We realized after the fact, we had no business trying to camp last weekend. Both of us (two Enneagram Type 3’s) were stretched to the max during the week. Both of us confessed to the urge to voice this doubt about camping being the best option for needed rest, but didn’t want to disappoint the other.
Losing all power took the decision out of our hands. Once we got back home and had some sleep, we still had most of the weekend for more of a staycation with no packing or power issues to deal with.

Thank You, our loving Father, for knowing us and our true needs better than we do. For taking a potentially disastrous weekend and turning it into a deliverance from ourselves. (Matt 7:9-11, Luke 12:24, Matt 6:8)

We are still wringing out meaning from last weekend. In fact, even today, as I journal about what God may be aiming at for me, to further my journey towards wholeness and healing from wounds, the word protection keeps coming up. As I shared in a previous post, the lack of protection is the core of my childhood wound.

Could God be inviting me to rethink His position in my story? Could He be revealing His posture of presence and protection where I have seen myself unprotected and alone? Hmm...

Just like the camping last week, where we can choose to leave the headline at “Lost All Power” or look deeper to consider a rescue from ourselves, I can choose the narrative of a lifelong pattern of being unprotected and on my own, or accept God’s invitation to rethink His position throughout my life, and allow that to fulfill my (and every person's) basic needs of being seen, soothed, safe and secure.

Might you consider?...

Upon reflection, can you identify a time when you had all the right ingredients for some needed r & r, yet came away not feeling rested and not understanding what was missing in your recipe?

Can you think of a circumstance where you can be your own worst enemy, where you need saved from yourself, your wired-in tendencies?

Where might God be inviting you to reconsider His position in a painful part of your story?

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Blessed to play a part ~


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