Close Encounters

If you would be a real seeker after truth,
it is necessary that at least once in your life
you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
-RENE DESCARTES (1596-1650)

SPIRITUAL WELLNESS – Connect with your spirit! Use ways that are meaningful to you:whether that’s through your place of worship, prayer, or meditation.

My heart leapt with joy when I was surfing the internet and saw this picture of the small chapel at Placerville Camp near Rapid City, SD! It’s still there nearly half a century later, and it’s just like I remember it. A remarkable experience occurred at Placerville in that little chapel for me when I was barely a teenager.

It was calm, nearing dusk and preparations were being made for evening worship around the campfire. Activity was growing around the fire pit as people gathered in anticipation, but I had an emptiness in my heart – a longing. Thoughts were occurring to me which I had never pondered before. Here I was at church camp, learning about and worshipping God. But who was He, really?

I felt like a little soldier that marched in perfect line to the beat of the world around me. Yet, I had this void within me that told me I was missing something. I was questioning my faith, and my relationship with Him. This was serious business and these were significant questions that left me in no mood for fun and fellowship around the campfire. I had a need to be alone and explore these deep doubts I was having about the foundations of my faith.

So, I drifted off from the group of campers to the solace of the little chapel in the woods. The big bank of windows on the chapel let the last light of the day into the room, but I still left the double-doors at the entry open to add to the light at the back of the chapel. Feeling distraught and anxious, I walked to the front of the church and eased into a pew on the right side. I sat silently pondering the authenticity of my faith and praying for guidance. Suddenly, like a clap of thunder, the double-doors to the chapel slammed shut!

Startled, my heart jumped into my throat and beat so fast I thought it would jump right out of my body. Despite the disquieting interruption, I stayed seated. I wasn’t about to give into anyone who might be playing a practical joke. I returned to my prayer.

It was then that I knew I was not alone. I knew I was in the presence of the Lord, and it was at this moment that my faith became personal to me. I was enveloped in His presence, like a warm blanket covering my entire being. My heart calmed immediately to His embrace and my spirit felt a peace and love that I had never experienced before.

Oh, how I remember basking in that place of unexplainable love. I could have stayed there forever. But soon I re-entered the world from my state of prayer. It was then I realized it was getting too dark to stay inside the chapel.

The moment the thought entered my mind to join the others at the campfire, the doors at the back of the church swung open – seemingly of their own accord. This time I ran out of the church thinking I would see another camper running away from the church, but there was no one around; no sound of pounding feet retreating from the church. Furthermore, how would anyone have known the exact moment I thought of leaving the church in order to open the doors in cue to my thoughts?

Everyone was at the campfire except for me. I was so touched, literally, that I could not speak when I joined the circle of friends at the fire. Soon I heard the familiar sound of a guitar and the praising and singing commenced for what seemed like another evening at Placerville Camp in the Black Hills of SD. No one yet knew that God had imprinted himself upon my heart.

His presence in my life has helped me to become refined by age. 

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—” John 10:14

“Even though I walk  through the darkest valley,  I will fear no evil,  for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

YouTube Video: Word of God Speak by MercyMe

YouTube Video: Stronger by Hillsong

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