46: God in the Campfire

46: God in the Campfire

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

God in the Campfire

By Carol A. Gibson

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. . .”

~Genesis 28:15

I sat watching sparks from our campfire leap and dance in the darkness of the woods, thinking I’d turn in soon since it was nine o’clock. Suddenly, I became aware of an unusual, absolute stillness in my soul. And, after a moment, came a certain realization that I was no longer married.

What was that all about? Of course, I was married. Jack was at our home in Pennsylvania. But I couldn’t shake this feeling. It wasn’t that I wondered if I was no longer married, I had an unshakeable knowing that I was no longer married.

I saw car headlights meander through the campgrounds. I wasn’t surprised when the car stopped in front of our camper because something told me the driver was looking for me.

My father went out into the darkness, and I heard a muted conversation between him and another man. After a few moments, the car drove away.

“Carol,” Dad said, struggling to steady his voice, “wake up the children and dress them. We must return to Pennsylvania. There’s been an accident, and Jack has been hurt.”

I felt like I had been knocked to my knees. I was afraid to hear the answer to my questions. “What kind of accident? How hurt?”

“All we know is that he was riding his motorcycle and was hit by an intoxicated, hit-and-run driver.”

The drive back to Pennsylvania seemed endlessly long. We arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night and went directly to the emergency room where a young doctor sat down beside me.

“Mrs. Johnson,” he began. It occurred to me there was a degree of pain in his eyes I had never seen in the eyes of a stranger before. I had to look away.

“I’m sorry to tell you that your husband passed away at nine o’clock tonight. We did everything we could to save him, but his injuries were too severe. Before he died, he asked for you and the children. I told him we were sending for you.”

Now I understood why I knew I was no longer married.

The unshakable knowledge I had experienced at the campfire, I believe, was the severing of what had been a very real spiritual bond created by God that happy day when Jack and I had married five years earlier. It had existed since then. Now, severed by Jack’s death, this bond was gone.

The weeks and months that followed weren’t easy. Jack being taken away so suddenly gave us no chance to say goodbye, and I missed him terribly.

But through it all, I was comforted and supported by knowing this: Who but someone as close as a spiritual husband could whisper campfire truths into my soul to help prepare me for news like that? And who but God could have given me the certain knowing I had experienced, so that I would be assured, when the time came, that He was already there in this tragedy before I was aware of it, walking through it with me?

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