The Vine That God Created

We didn’t plan to drive the bus to Fremont. They were going to stop in at our little spot in Grayling for a quick visit on their way north. But, they had some friends they wanted to see who were staying at a park in Fremont.
These were some wonderful friends that we met in Florida and we thought it would be a great getaway for a few days to make the drive and join them. They were the kind of friends that God brought into our lives at just the right moment when we needed them the most. We have found that God does that often with us while we’re on the road. We go through dry times, then he sends just the right people at just the right time to bring us what we need spiritually or emotionally. We were mostly finished with the house in Grayling and this was the perfect time to get away for a few days and relax. We even brought along Elijah, our favorite little seven year old, so he could play with their kids and have some fun at the campground’s lake.
The weather was hot. The hottest it’s been all summer, with temperatures into the 90s. Personally hot sun and 90 degree temperatures are like hell on earth. I was anxious to get to the campground where we could plug in our coach and get the AC running once again.
We had made reservations for the last site at the campground. We didn’t really care where we parked, as long as we could spend time with our friends. When we arrived we found we were being placed in not only the last site available, but the worst. I guess it was one of those sites they never use unless absolutely necessary. Well, not a good spot, but again, we didn’t care. Good A/C, good friends, and a nice lake for the kids… really that’s all we was important.
We backed our 40’ coach carefully around trees, a small building, some ground protrusions that would be land-mines for bus tires, into a space big enough for a mid-size car. Some who were watching were rather impressed, it wasn’t too bad - that’s why God created mirrors, cell phones, and a wife.
While trying to maneuver the bus into this little space we had drawn the attention of a few campers and even a passing truck who we could see had pulled over to watch. That seemed a bit out of the ordinary, but sometimes just the converted bus draws some attention. As I’m backing in my phone rings and I see the name of a past acquaintance that I knew when I worked in Muskegon (about 30 - 40 miles from our location). I ignored the call since my mind was occupied with the maneuvering. Within a minute or two, the phone rang again, same person. Could he have seen our bus on the highway someplace? He’s never seen our bus. Odd, but ignored again…I’ll call him back when we’re settled and have some air conditioning in our bus.
Once parked I jumped out of the bus to get set up and plugged in. The guy who had been watching from his truck pulled up in front of me and leaned out his window and called, “Dave”. I looked bewildered for a moment, then recognized that it was Tony, my acquaintance from Muskegon, the same one who had been calling. “Hi Tony” I replied with surprise. I sure never expected to see him around here. We caught up for just a moment with some small talk and he explained that he lived just down the road and even offered to let us park in his yard if we liked. He told us that they never come by this way, but they were leaving the church and his daughter had a terrible headache so instead of their usuall drive directly home, they chose to take a drive along the lake and past the park. We thanked him but let him know that we had come down to spend the week with our friends here at the park and let the kids play, but we certainly would make some time to get together and catch up while we’re in the area.
It was hot and I was anxious to get the power on and get the bus level and comfortable, so I cut the conversation short, but assured him that I have his number and I’ll get in touch very soon. As Tony left the driveway I resumed the project at hand. As we have done a hundred times before, I opened the lower bay doors, pulled out my heavy 50 amp power cord, plugged one end into my bus and the other into the power pole. I clicked the breaker, went inside the bus, pointed the thermostat remote at the air conditioner and pressed power. POP! The internal breaker tripped and the AC failed to turn on. That’s odd, I’ve never had that happen before. So, I went back outside, checked the connections, reset the breaker and went back to power up the AC. I pointed the remote and this time time the fan came on at extremely high speed for a few moments, then a terrible smell and smoke flowed from the fan. Then, just like before - POP! again, the breaker tripped. Something was seriously wrong and this ordinary day just became a nightmare.
Unbelievably hot, a worried and irate wife, and a bored and anxious child were all ingredients in a growing, and potentially dangerous, problem. Somehow the campground power had burned part of my Air Conditioner and in an RV with such a complex electrical system that means potential trouble. I pulled my 50amp cord from the pole and checked everything I could visually. I failed to bring any kind of electrical tester so I couldn’t be as detailed as I would like. I pulled a 20amp cord from my bay and figured I would try just running off one leg of their system. This time I sat right next to my own electrical system when I engaged the power. As soon as I flipped the breaker the charger right next to me exploded with fire and smoke.
Needless to say, I was not staying here another minute. I threw my cords back in my bus, and went to talk to the park manager who had watched the whole thing from a distance. Of course he had never experienced anything like this and was sure it wasn’t their system. His “sorry” was shallow and unhelpful. I returned to my bus, and called Tony. “Tony”, I said, “I’m coming to your house”.
Within a few minutes I was backing the bus under a huge shady maple tree in Tony’s front yard. The heat was unbearable, but he quickly set us up with a window air conditioner, some safe electricity and even offered us his truck so we could visit our friends. I was reminded of a vine that shaded Jonah’s head in the misery of the heat. I thanked God for sending us Tony - and his vine.
Even though I was not happy that my expensive electrical system and air conditioner was destroyed, even though my wife was irate and hot, even though we had a bored and anxious child; I reminded each of us that we must be still and “walk this out”. There was then, and still today, remains no doubt in my mind that God ordained this interruption to our plans. I have found that God is always in the interruptions and inconveniences of our lives. Much like Jonah, I often don’t like God’s divine plans; often I find plenty of pity for myself and so little remains for those who God places in my path.
I wish I could wrap up this story and tell you how God miraculously used this hardship to save a life - or a soul. I wish I could tie a bow on this package and show you what an awesome gift God gave us though our difficulty. I can’t. I don’t know the ways of God. I don’t know the hearts of the people we encountered. I don’t know if God interrupted our plans to affect the lives around us or if he needed to pull the rug from under us for a few days. But I do know, without any doubt, that God was, and is, at work in all circumstances.
I can tell you this much, in a land where we knew nobody we were suddenly surrounded by Godly friends. When we had a great need we were not alone, but lavished by hugs, resources, food, and friends. Our friends who we came to see, all the way from Florida, gave themselves to us without any reservation. In addition, a new friendship was formed with Tony. We spent an afternoon sitting under that huge shade tree, visiting. We spoke of family, friends, business, and our Lord. His wife graced us with warm blueberry muffins and they provided for all our needs. When we left we took their air conditioner and their friendship. Later, one of them will be returned, the other we will keep.
After a few days of visiting, we left with hugs, tears, and “until we meet again”. We returned to Grayling in a bus with a broken electrical system and a window air conditioner. We had so much to do before we could leave the area. We still had to fit in a trip to Ohio and Tennessee with a rental truck to take our kids some things from our storage unit. I had a new power inverter and battery system, that thankfully was not installed when we had the power failure, which still needed to be designed and installed. In addition, while we were parked for half a year at my parent’s house, we had unloaded our storage bays into the garages. Our stuff was rather strewn about and needed to be organized and carefully packed into our bus basement.
One day, with Andy’s help (Amy’s brother), we emptied the storage unit, moved my project cars, and we were coming home from town when a violent storm hit. You know the kind, the one storm of the year that hits with a vengeance that tears down trees, damages roofs, cars, and even people. When we arrived back to our bus, thankful that we were not blown off the road, we jumped as quickly as possible from the car to the bus, only to be drenched as if we had jumped into a lake. We sat out the storm in the relative safety of the bus but lost power with thousands of others as a result of the downed trees and high winds. Normally with a bus, a loss of available power isn’t a big deal. But for us, we had not prepared by filling our fresh water storage tank, and our on-board electrical system was still in damaged condition. So, once again, we had some potential trouble and we were all alone.
As we sat, once again, in the quiet stillness that seems can only be achieved by a total loss of power, we got a phone call. Our friends! The ones we met in Florida who we went to meet in Fremont. They had passed through Traverse City, on their way along the lake shore going north, when the storm hit. As beautiful as the passing storm was to admire, they were left without practical options for parking their bus overnight in the storm-torn area; they were on their way to stay with us. They arrived late after the storm had passed, but they brought with them a nearly full tank of fresh water, ample functioning electricity, and tons of love, and food. We enjoyed a couple days with food, laughter, and children until the power was restored and they were, once again, on their way.
So, why the broken electrical system at the campground? Why the destroyed air conditioning on the hottest days of the year? Why the infuriated wife and restless child? Why a terrible storm and power failure? I don’t know. But I know that God is in the vine, and often in the worm, sometimes in the wind, and always in the interruptions.
Maybe God knows exactly when and how to prepare a vine.

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