There’s all kinds of pamphlets and information out there that evangelicals have created to help you know if you’re really a Christian. Those well-meaning pieces of paper printed in love point to verses throughout the Bible and if you’re in doubt, you can pray the sinners prayer and do the ABC thing one more time (Accept, Believe, Confess, for those unfamiliar with the lingo).
However, I have found a more practical, real-life test. Go camping. With your kids. On a weekend that was supposed to be nice and isn’t. Here’s my three-fold test to see how much you really love Jesus and your neighbor:
1. Go camping on a weekend that was forecasted to be nice with the exception of scattered showers on the first day. Suffer through a thunderstorm the first night, high winds and tree branches falling all around you the second night, and frigid temperatures the third night.
2. Have neighbors move in on one side of you that have the toddler from Hades. He throws temper tantrums 24/7, including at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Wake up and discover that neighbors have set up camp on the other side of you who drive your dream car, the one you’ve been drooling over for a year and were joking with your husband about how much nicer it would be to take THAT car camping instead of your own. Stare at that car for three days while you freeze your tush off making eggs and pancakes and roasting marshmallows.
3. Just when you think you are in the clear – your husband decides to go home one day early because no one has slept in three days and it’s a recipe for disaster, you’ve maintained your cool and your cheer thus far, doing your best to hold in tears and temper tantrums (even though you really wanted to join that toddler in the dirt on the campsite next to you), when your husband informs you he’s seen two ticks on the tent and you should inspect the children very closely for hitch hiking ticks. Panic. Check. Re-check. Determine everyone is bug free, but because of your manic tendencies, you itch all over for the next two days.
After enduring tests #1, #2, and #3 see how much you still love Jesus and your neighbor. And if you’re still thankful for rain and wind and fall temperatures and can love your camping neighbors and feel compassion for the other mother with the dirt-loving devil child and are thankful for healthy children and the chance to spend quality time connecting with them, you’re most likely a Christian. If not, pick up a pamphlet and pray the ABC one more time.
We had a fun family weekend. Minus the camping part. At least it’s fodder for good stories and funny memories.