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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Rest (01/17/13)

TITLE: Old Volkswagens, Tornadoes, and Other Perils That Keep Us From Rest
By Justin Atkin


There are certain sounds, that when you hear them, you know right away that you are in trouble. Sounds like gunshots, your momma calling you out by your full name, car horns real close, and in this particular instance; the sound of the front door slamming and my wife’s work bag hitting the floor.


It was definitely my wife’s voice, but I didn’t recognize the “I’m going to kill the next person I see” tone she was using. I thought seriously about making a run for it, but I knew I was too fat to get away. So instead, I mustered up the courage to ask her how her day had been.

“You don’t have a clue! You couldn’t even imagine if you tried. It was absolutely horrible. I just need to get away for a few days. I need a vacation. I need rest.”

Now this is where most husbands would have messed up. Most would have asked what happened. Not me, I didn’t need bloody details. I just jumped on the vacation bandwagon as quick as possible.

“Let’s go camping! The weather is gorgeous and I am sure the trout will be biting. We can stop on the way and get you a new book.”

She agreed that a camping trip in the mountains, full of rest and relaxation, would do the trick. The only problem... we had never had a vacation full of rest and relaxation. Never! It was not because we hadn’t tried. We had picked beautiful locations. We had spent good money, but rest had never been found.

It all started with our honeymoon. We planned a cruise in the Caribbean. It was beautiful, for about 24 hours. We started cruising for the Grand Cayman Islands, and as if I were Jonah, a great cloud starts to form. Deck chairs begin to blow off into the ocean. People start running inside. We never got to port in the islands because of a horrible tropical storm.

After that was Valentine’s Day. I thought a secluded cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains would just be perfect. The first night, we went upstairs to sleep. Ten minutes later, we heard him. My wife had not shut the back door. I guess the bear wanted a midnight snack and decided to rummage through our kitchen on the bottom floor. We hid in a closet until sunrise. Thank God, nobody found us dead. There I was in nothing but my underwear holding a sock full of billiard balls and a fire extinguisher. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Our last camping trip had been cut short by a tornado. If you have never driven a 1971 VW Microbus in a tornado, take my word for it, it’s not restful. We’ve spent more than one vacation broken down on the side of the road. The highlight of our Charleston trip was a third degree sunburn and bedbugs at the hostel. I could keep going, but you would probably start to believe I’m making this stuff up. The point is we have never had a restful vacation. But in a turn of events that only God could orchestrate, we were about to get a crash course on rest…literally.

We decided to go camping at a beautiful creek side spot in Western North Carolina. I found our spot, threw the old VW Bus in reverse, and proceeded to back straight off a three foot ledge. When the angels looked down from heaven to see what the commotion was, all they saw was a VW symbol and two headlights shining straight up at them. My wife spoke first.

“What are you gonna do?”

I pulled two lawns chairs out and said, “Absolutely, nothing. There is nothing I can do.”

It didn’t take long to realize we didn’t have a cell phone and nothing but bottled water, baked beans and peanut butter sandwiches to eat. We were helpless. There was absolutely nothing we could do for ourselves, so we rested. I fished. She read a whole book. We talked. We listened to the creek tumbling over the rocks.

That’s when we finally realized what Jesus meant by “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest”(Matthew 11:28 NASB). If you want true rest, you must come to Jesus, helpless as a little child. Saying… “There is nothing I can do for myself. I need a vacation. I need rest. I need you Jesus.”

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This article has been read 434 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden 01/24/13
I really like the title and the humor in the story. I don't think I would ever go camping again if such disasters were to happen to me.
Virgil Youngblood 01/25/13
What are you doing in Level 1? You won't be here long with great writing like this. I enjoyed the humor and the message.
C D Swanson 01/26/13
What a great title! That made me smile right off...great story, excellent writing ( I think you should be in a different level???) and a wonderfully entertaining tale overall.

Great job...I loved it.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/27/13
I really enjoyed your sense of humor. You had me giggling throughout this delightful story. You did a great job of writing on the topic and in the end getting a message that we all need to hear from time to time. Good job.
Catherine Craig 01/27/13
I agree. You might think about moving to a different category. Great story; well-written.
Michelle Knoll 01/30/13
This is great! I've been giggling the entire time while reading your story. I could literally see the VW bus pointed heavenward. Though I'm sure the situation wasn't delightful, your description of it was!

I could write paragraphs in empathy, but I won't. Suffice it to say, there was this time (one of our many times)... in Williamsburg, VA... with a hurricane bearing down on us. I've never seen trees bend that way before, in person.

You did a wonderful job with this topic and I agree with the others in that you won't be in this level long. Great writing!
Alicia Renkema01/31/13
What a pleasure to read! Well, I only read it this morning after your win-congratulations, I am so glad this won first place. The other's were right, you do need to be in another level and now you have to move up! You write very well and while I have never had vacations such as the ones you described (that unfortunately is more indicative of my life in general) your main point is one we all need to remember-to allow Jesus to be our rest. Again, congratulations!
C D Swanson 01/31/13
Congrats on this wonderful piece! God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/31/13
Congratulations on your beautiful ribbon and for placing 15 overall!!
Vince Martella02/01/13
Clever! Great writing. Congrats on your 1st place win.
Bea Edwards 02/01/13
Fun and refreshing look at where our plans usually lead.
Congratulations on your 1st First place winning entry, I foresee many more!
Emily Ritter02/04/13
I read this in a library, and it took everything I could to not bust out laughing through this entire story. I hope to read it again at home where I can bust out laughing. Very enjoyable. You deserved the win!!!!
Judith Gayle Smith02/05/13
Too funny! Your article is too polished to be in the Beginner's level, and I see that there are many here who agree with me! You have such a deft touch with droll humor! Thank you for tickling me!
Loni Bowden-Horn 02/05/13
I enjoyed the story and it kept me laughing from beginning to end.

The opening paragraph really drew me in and left me wanting more. I had a feeling your wife would win the argument when she said, "I need a vacation".

I thought I had the monopoly on storm clouds but I guess I was wrong. It seems if there is only one cloud in the sky, I still get drenched.

You have such an amazing talent for writing that God has gifted you with.

Keep up the great work!

Tricia Nechibvute02/11/13
Liked the humour and the lighthearted tone. True rest begins when you come to the end of yourself