After the dad and son settled in, they approached the cafeteria. The steps were made of wood but were sturdy. They opened the screen doors and noticed a congregation of men and sons looking over papers and talking with two people at a table.
The dad and son started to walk toward the table. As they approached, the woman sitting there smiled and asked, “What are your names?” The dad said, “Paul and Troy Smith”. The nurse thumbed through her paperwork and found the applications that the dad had previously sent in. She then briefly looked them over and said, “Okay. You have no medications, so please take your son and go over to the various activity tables and decide what you want to do over the next few days.”
Paul and Troy looked over every piece of paper there. The dad noticed the assortment of activities and was dumbfounded on how much there was to do. He turned to his son and asked, “Troy, what would you like to do?”
Paul and Troy chose six activities that they could do. Over the course of the next few days, they had loads of fun. Troy was able to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time. Paul was able to teach his son how to fish and sail. Both of them had so much fun. From swimming in the lake to the campfires at night. Each evening, after the campfire they would carefully walk to the cabin. Paul would tuck Troy in while the counselors decided it was time for a quick game before bed.
Paul then was told that the dads were going back to the cafeteria for coffee and snacks. Little did Paul know what was going to change his life forever. As he sat and listened to the stories, he noted how each dad had come from a situation or experience that was similar to his. One dad said he as a former alcoholic but when Jesus found Him, he no longer needed to have a drink. Another story that caught his attention was a dad who became so busy with his job that his wife left him with the kids and the struggles he had fighting to see his son again.
Paul remembered where he came from. The busy world of work. The inundated world of working from home and trying to work out at the gym. What time did he actually have to himself? All Paul knew was work, work and some more work. But in this atmosphere of dads, he noticed one thing. None of them had cell phones or iPads. Each and every dad had a smile from ear to ear. Every dad had a story that they wanted to share. They wanted to show other dads they weren’t alone in their struggle. Paul desired to have more of this type of experience, but he didn’t have the courage to ask about how to be so happy.
On the last evening of the campfire, a young man came up to speak and said, “My dad and I used to fish and sail. He taught me everything, both good and bad. Unfortunately, my dad passed away from a heart attack because he worked so much. All he could think about was how to make more money. He also taught me that there was one relationship that was necessary to have a happy life.” At this, Paul’s ears became more attentive and wanted to understand the secret to happiness.
The young man continued, “Living a happy life is not dependent on how much money you make or how you love to fish or sail. Living a life of true happiness comes from within. Within each person is a desire to be something bigger and better than he knows he can achieve. Each father desires to do better for his wife and son. Each father knows that there is something out there bigger than he is. I am here to tell you that no matter your status in life, work or socially, the only way to true happiness is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Paul then said to himself, “Is that it? It doesn’t sound extravagant like the other dads made it seem.” As he sat and listened to the rest of the story, Paul heard something he had never heard before. It was as if his conscience was calling out to him. Immediately, there was a sense of hopelessness yet hopefulness. Then came the doubting, but the truth started to ring even louder. The next thing he heard was the young man say, “If you want to meet Jesus tonight, stay back and talk with one of us.” That was it! Paul knew he needed to stay back and talk with the young man.
Paul and Troy stayed behind as others left for the night. The young man who spoke approached, he could see the desire to learn on Paul’s face. They spoke for a few minutes and then prayed. After the prayer, Paul no longer heard the tension he had before. There was an inner peace he had never felt before. A sense of joy, happiness and contentment overwhelmed his soul. This was something he never felt before, but he liked it, a lot.
Paul had been found by Jesus. Jesus had healed his entire being. His guilt was gone. His fear subsided. His life was different and he knew this was the first day of the rest of his life. He then promised himself that nothing would ever get between him and his Savior. He also made sure that his son and wife came before other things he enjoyed. In the end, Paul knew that if God had not led them to Northern Frontier Camp, his life would have just continued down the slippery slope he was headed. It was Northern Frontier Camp that showed him a new way of living and he wasn’t going to let it go.