The cool breeze of the night brushing up against my face, along with the radiating warmth of the campfire encapsulated me in a state of complete tranquility as I sat on a bench, listening to the worship songs. The subtle chirping of crickets in the trees and the gentle strum of a guitar further enriched this experience. I found myself in a rather peculiar state of mind, free to dwell upon my own thoughts but oblivious of everything else that was going on around me.

Every year, the freshman class from my school go on a retreat to Rock-N-Water where students have the opportunity to engage in a number of exhilarating activities with their friends and favorite teachers such as team building, canyoneering, and white water rafting. The purpose of sending students to Rock-N-Water is to help them see God’s power and glory through nature, ultimately strengthening their relationship with him, and form new friendships with the rest of the freshman class.

During our stay at Rock-N-Water, each day was concluded with an evening campfire, where all the staff and students would gather in communion and hold a miniature church service filled with worship and sermons from various staff members, as well as quality time to spend with God. After a long and arduous day of hiking through canyons, I was not looking forward to our second campfire, but to my surprise I would experience something that I had never experienced before.

campfire worship gathering at summer camp surrounded by stars and treesI started to close my eyes and as I did a great silence overcame everything; the mellifluous melody of the guitar was muffled, the chirping of the crickets had disappeared, and the heat from the campfire was no longer present. I felt like I was sitting in a vacuum, but my time in it was running out and my conscience was searching for something, specifically for someone.

I did not care what I looked like in front of my friends or if the worship song was over. I was able to clear away every thought and idea in my head. I was ready to do something, but I did not know what to do, and that is when I decided to pray. I said something along the lines of, “Lord, if you are here with me now, please show me a sign or somehow communicate to me that you are in fact here.” I waited for an answer for what seemed to me like forever, but in reality, was only a couple minutes. I had received no answer or sign and my time with myself was coming to an end. The strum of the guitar grew louder, the crickets began chirping again, and a wave of heat passed right through me. I finally opened my eyes and the bright light from the campfire blinded me. I felt like I had just woken from a deep slumber.sparking campfire with out of focus campers in foregroundI continued to worship from my seat until the end of campfire when everyone was dismissed to get ready for bed. As I solemnly walked back to my campsite alone in the dark, sulking over my failure to successfully communicate with God, a sudden comfort and sense of security overcame my mind and body. Shocked at first, I found myself caught up in confusion as to how this could have happened. Prior to this event, I was in the complete opposite mood to be in a state of comfort, I was distraught and depressed.

As I neared my campsite, it finally became apparent to me that my failure to talk with God was a grand success in and of itself, and that the sudden comfort I had felt was the exact sign from God that I had asked for. I realized that my idea of what a direct confrontation from God could be in the past was completely biased. I had failed to realize that God makes himself known to us in a variety of ways that might be challenging for us to recognize at first.

I had also discovered that my prayer with God during the campfire was genuine and wholehearted. This revelation taught me to always be patient with God no matter how long you wait and that it is good to often step back from everything that is going on in life in order to spend more quality time with my creator.

By Paul Kim about his high school retreat – 1st place winner for the 2018 Writing Contest