“Do you want to go on a camping trip with me and my dad?” asked my friend Peter.
“Of course!” I said. This is going to be a lot of fun, I thought excitedly. We’ll even be able to make campfires!
I went over to Peter’s house on a Friday afternoon. We packed all our stuff and headed out for a weekend of fun.
When we arrived, we set up camp, built the all-important fire, ate some dinner, and then went to sleep under the stars. Peter and I had a hard time falling asleep because we kept talking about what we were going to do the next day.
“Do you want to take a hike tomorrow?” I asked.
“Sure. We can even go down to the creek and swim and make a really neat fort!” he replied.
Finally we drifted off to sleep with big plans for the next day.
Our campsite was absolutely beautiful in the morning. The sun shone through huge trees. Everything was lush and green. I could hear the creek flowing and smelled fresh potatoes cooking over the fire.
Peter’s dad was already awake and ready to get started with the day. Peter and I were pretty tired, so we just wanted to hang out at camp for a while.
At first Peter’s dad hesitated. Then he asked, “Will you kids be all right by yourselves for a while if I go take a hike on my own?”
“Of course we will,” Peter replied.
“And no trouble?” Peter’s dad asked sternly.
“Yeah, we’re just going to head down to the creek,” I said. “You don’t have to worry about us.” So he took off, and we got ready to hike to the creek.
We had a great time walking a long way upstream, and building a fun fort to goof around in. After playing for nearly three hours, we noticed that it was beginning to get cold. Some clouds were rolling in.
“Do you think we should head back to camp?” Peter asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Your dad is probably getting worried.”
I secretly wanted to head back to camp so I could build a fire and warm up to it.
When we got back to camp, Peter’s dad was not there. “I’m cold,” I complained. “I want a fire.”
“We said we’d stay out of trouble,” Peter reminded me.
I knew his dad had trusted us, but I ignored the warning in my brain.
“I think we could go ahead and start a fire anyway,” I said. So we got a little fire going and began to warm up.
This fire isn’t big enough for me, I thought. I went over by the van and grabbed a can of gasoline, then walked over to the fire and poured the gas directly onto the flames.
KA-BOOM! The gas ignited in midair. Flames shot up the stream of liquid toward the can in my hands. I threw the gas can to the side as far as I could, but in the process I spilled gas all over my shoe and my leg. My leg was on fire!
At that moment Peter leaped over the flames from what seemed like a great distance away and jumped on me, pushing me to the ground to put out the flames.
After the flames were out I sat there in silence. I had never been so scared in my entire life. My whole life actually flashed before my eyes. I thought I was going to die.
“Are you going to be all right?” Peter asked.
“I think so, but my leg really hurts,” I whimpered.
By that time the people from the camp next to us had gotten some ice for my leg and made sure I kept it elevated. I was still in shock. The reality of what had just happened wasn’t actually sinking in yet. It still felt like a dream.
I had to come back to reality, though, because Peter’s dad arrived back from his hike.
“What happened?” he cried.
“Russell had a little accident with the fire,” Peter answered.
“An accident with the fire?
I thought I told you guys to stay out of trouble.” I could tell that he was pretty upset, but I could only sit there in silence.
That was the end of our camping trip. We packed up and headed into town to get some bandages. I didn’t say a word the whole way home. Our fun trip had been ruined by my foolishness.
I later found that I had gotten third-degree burns from my ankle all the way up to my knee.
After the trip I asked Peter how he had jumped so far to put those flames out.
“I honestly don’t know,” he replied. “It was almost as if someone pushed me.”
I learned a very important lesson from that painful experience. It wasn’t simply to be more careful with fires. I learned that even when I make some really stupid mistakes in life, the Lord is still there watching out for me. Even when I disobey the ones who know best, the Lord doesn’t reject me.
I believe the Lord worked a miracle that day through my friend Peter. I have never doubted His constant care since that incident with the campfire.
Illustrated by Mariano Santillan