When I was a kid and my brothers and I would go camping in the mountains of Arkansas with my Granddaddy and Grandmother we could count on certain things always being part of our experience. One thing that was always a wonderful part of the trip was flapjacks for breakfast. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between flapjacks and pancakes. I think maybe if it’s made on a black cast iron skillet it’s a flapjack and if it is made on anything else it’s a pancake. In Arkansas they were always cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Granddaddy used a boxed mix that simply required adding water and maybe an egg or two. And though he used some cheap, uninspired box mix he made the best flapjacks ever. The secret was the skillet and using butter or oil in the skillet. When cooked this way the edge of the flapjack becomes crispy and very sweet. Granddaddy’s flapjacks were magical. They always brought much joy and happiness in our little lives.
Not everything about camping in Arkansas was happy and joyful though. Powdered milk. Quite often granddaddy would bring powdered milk. If you’ve never had or heard of powdered milk it’s this: a box of white powder that when mixed with water is supposed to taste likes milk. It doesn’t taste like milk. It barely looks like milk. It more closely resembles the flour water mix you’d use to make paper mache. It’s just not good.
There are many other good things about camping in Arkansas and many other less-than-good things. Spring water: good. Ticks: not good. Wildlife: good. Mosquitoes: not good. And the list goes on.
Life is much like camping: there are wonderful things that bring joy to our experience and there are unpleasant things that can bring unhappiness to our experience. And there are plenty of both. Paul, in Romans, tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” Inevitably when we got home from our trip to Arkansas our mom or dad would ask about our experience. We would go on and on about all the wonderful things we’d seen and done and maybe briefly mention the bad, if at all. Granddaddy had made sure that, even though there were plenty of negatives, our time together was a positive. I believe that one day when we are standing in eternity and we are asked about our life experience we’ll go on and on about how incredibly wonderful it was.