I had a wonderful vacation last week. A friend from college and I went camping. We usually are on the go every day and are very busy. This year we ‘did’ less and enjoyed relaxing more. We did take the “Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tour” also known as the Toonerville Trolley Train and Boat Tour.It is a 6.5 hour tour starting with a 35-minute narrow gauge train ride, followed bya 2-hour, narrated riverboat cruise. At the rapids above the falls, the river boat docks for an hour and fifteen minutes. There is a .625 mile hike to their view of the falls which is across from the State Park. (I had always wondered how people got over there when I visited the State Park.) You return via the boat and train. It was a good trip which I recommend. Do note the hike is labeled as moderate and there are lots of steps to see the falls.
On our boat trip back, the captain pointed out the smoke from a forest fire and let us know he was calling it in. When we got on the trains, we were told we couldn’t leave until the captain got the all clear that the fire was not near the train tracks. About a half hour later we got the all clear and the two trains left the boat area. Suddenly, in the middle of the forest, someone from the tour company came running from behind telling us to “stop the train!” The train was halted and we were told to wait until instructed to go on. We could see smoke. Then we could see the spotter plane. Then a Department of Natural Resources officer came to us on a four-wheeler. This was when I realized we might be there awhile. He asked if there were any diabetics on the train. There was a person who was diabetic whom he talked with. The officer then went to the other train. Someone from the company said food and water were coming. Now I was really wondering how long we were going to be there. The company brought us bottled water and candy bars –my friend and I split one. The DNR officer then asked if anyone needed medicine soon. He didn’t know that we would be there that long he was just planning ahead. People shared resources like pain reliever and bug spray.
There were people of all ages on the train –from young children to a man in our car who had recently had a heart procedure. While we were waiting, we got to know each other, even if we didn’t share names. We talked about where we lived and tried to pass the time having no idea how long we were going to be in the woods.
As you might imagine things got interesting. Some people wanted to walk out of the woods. They were told if they did, they would be arrested when they walked off the tracks. At least one person walked several feet and reported there was no fire. People wanted a refund for the inconvenience. Some people were getting ‘edgy’and some said things like ‘this is just the way our vacation is going this year’.
My friend pointed out how these kinds of situations show people’s character. I realized she was right. Adversity, whether it is being stuck in the woods, the death of a loved one, an accident, injury, illness or something unsettling in our community, family, church or otherwise in life does show our character. I realized that I don’t always respond the way I really want to respond. When things aren’t going the way I want them to how do I respond? Does it show God’s love? Does my reaction show I care about other people or does it show I care about only myself? James 1, verse 12 reads,“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” When I am under trial do, I act so as to be one who is ‘Inviting people, living the love of Christ’ as our congregations mission statement says? I admit I don’t always. I am grateful for the love and forgiveness of God when I don’t act in a Christ-like way. I hope you will think about how your respond when things aren’t going the way you want them to go: are you showing the love of Christ?
Eventually we were given the permission to continue the trip. In just a few minutes the train was passing through smoke. I had expected to see the fire in the distance but no, the fire was on both sides of the tracks, right next to the tracks where we saw burned trees on both sides. No one was talking about wishing they had walked or wanting a refund any more. We were cheering for and thanking the DNR people who were made it safe for us to travel through the area. We saw the plane that was dropping water from a plane, and where we got off the train the DNR officers’ cars were there, along with State Police troopers and a medical helicopter above us. The DNR responded quickly, efficiently and professionally as did the boat/train company. I thank them and would definitely go on this trip again – hoping for no forest fire. 😊
How do you respond to adversity? I pray we all show Christ’s love.
See you Sunday in worship –I hope you invite someone!
~ Pastor Jackie
P.S. My friend wrote a positive review on "tripadvisor". The next day the company replied it was a 14-acre fire and the DNR was still putting out hot spots.