Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Camping Anyone?

A long time ago, when I was young and in the army reserves, we went down to El Paso Texas on our 2 week drill. I think it was April or May when we went. I was an x-ray tech and was part of a hospital unit that would be deployed into a medivac unit if war broke out.

As a 20 year old x-ray tech within a group of 450 doctors and nurses I was about as low on the pole as you could get- I was also a tire guy for most of the year. I was used to working hard, in fact at one point in my time in the reserves the nurses gave me a health study examine and asked how many calories I consumed each day. At that time my normal daily intake was around 8500 and I didn't gain any weight for about 4 years at that rate. I am not as young as I used to be.

During this 2 week drill the commander decided that we should go out into the desert and set up the hospital like we would if we were in a war situation. El Paso is very hot even at that time of year. So we set out in the morning in the trucks with all the gear and at least 1 truck load full of tents. I had never liked camping and this was about to solidify this in my mind.

The morning was crisp and clear, the desert air was nice as we drove along with the windows down and the sun rising over the hills. We drove for at least an hour and finally we arrived at a location that someone chose for us. Only about 20 of us went- the 20 who were young and looked strong enough to do this work I imagine.

When we got out of the trucks a sergeant met us. He had killed a rattle snake and wanted to show us what it looked like so we would be paying attention. By now the sun was well into the sky and the temp was rising, but it still wasn't probably more than 70. We were instructed where the tents should go and we started to unload the trucks and divide the tents up.

When an army tent is up it doesn't look very heavy, but when it is all rolled up in the truck and you have to carry it out, it is very heavy. I don't even remember how many tents we set up, maybe 5 or 10, but by the time we had them all set up we were all drenched in sweat and the temp was in the 90's.

Shortly after was had them set up we did some navigational drills walking to points in the desert with our compasses. The plan was that we would stay out for 3 days and then return to the hospital to finish the time.

Just before noon the balance of the unit- all the doctors and nurses- came out to the desert to meet us- they all arrived in nice air conditioned buses. They all unloaded and the same sergeant greeted them with another couple of snakes to make sure they knew what they were up against.

OK- imagine 450 professional people who are used to being inside a hospital working, now in the desert with the temp approaching 100. We ate lunch, cleaned up and then there was some more navigational drills for us all. Within an hour after lunch 2 people had to be air lifted out of the camp for heat related issues. Within another hour 2 more. Then the buses arrived and all the "grown-ups" got back on the buses and the young people had to pack up the tents so we could return to the hospital. Someone had decided it was too dangerous for this unit, at this time, to do this kind of thing.

Let me be clear that I was very happy not to have to spend time sleeping in the desert but this was a real mess. Now we had to take the tents down and pack them back in the trucks and return them to the base. It was not any cooler when we tore the tents down at 3ish in the afternoon.

Why do I tell you this story and relive this wasted day? In my Bible reading plan I just read through Numbers where the Israelites are getting instructions about who is moving the tabernacle-TENT. We had trucks that actually got close to where the tents were going to be placed and then drove them to the desired location. I can't fathom having to carry the tent all around the desert, setting it up and tearing it down over and over again for 40 years.

Now this tent was the big tent but each family had their own tent and all their possessions in that tent that would need to be set up and torn down on every move. What a lot of work.

God is very detailed in His plan for who would carry the tent, the alter, the poles, the basins and He did not allow any deviation from His plan- ask Aaron's oldest sons. 40 years of wandering from place to place and those who left Egypt, save 2, would never see the promise land. That brings new meaning to life is hard and then you die.

I'm happy to live in this time when my "tent" is set up when I come home from work. I am happy that God is a God of detail and He gives instructions for us to follow. I am happy to live in the age of grace. I am happy not to have to raise animals just so I have a sacrifice for my sin. I am happy that I, and many others, will get to see the "promise land".

God's chosen people were chosen to do some wild things and God blessed them when they followed His precise instructions and He did not bless them when they disobeyed. May we be obedient children of the King.

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