This past weekend we went on a camping trip with some people from our church. We had not been tent camping in a long time. Even though it was November this was Florida (actually the camping site was just over the Georgia - Florida border), so how bad could it be? We packed our tent, and some warmer clothes, and headed to St. Mary's Georgia. It was sunny and a bit chilly - temps around 60 - as we unpacked and set up our tent. We went into St. Mary's for dinner and then met up with our fellow campers in the evening. It was starting to get cold (not Alaskan cold where we lived for the past 14 years but Florida cold!), temps falling to the low 40s. We were not prepared for this; one of our sleeping bags was designed for indoor camping, and we had no heat source and our air mattress leaked. We were not happy campers after a sleepless night. Worse, it did not warm up during the day and a chilly wind made 50 some degrees seem much colder. We made the best of it but when my wife said she might want to pack up and go home a day early, I was all ears. Usually she is the trooper and I am the wimp ready to pack it in. So that's what we did. We felt bad but mostly because the others were sticking it out and we were bailing and had earned their jokes (Look, the hardy Alaskans can't take the cold!). We took the ding to our reputations like the mature adults we are. We enjoyed the warmth and comfort of own bed, too. We had learned our lessons: be more prepared next time (get warmer sleeping bags!), and we had some insight into the plight of the homeless who deal with our short term discomforts all the time.
Today, I was reading Mark 13 in the Message Bible. It is called the "apocalyptic chapter" in which Jesus talks about some of the signs of the End Times. A few of his disciples catch him by himself and ask him when all this End Time stuff is going to happen. He told them it was coming and times would be tough before the End but he did not give them an exact date or The Sign that would signal the End. What he said was, "Stay with it - that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved."
Reading that in light of our recent camping experience, I sensed that God had another lesson in mind for me.