The Ties That Bind

We cruised along at a steady clip. The late 70’s model F150 was equipped with the finest camper shell of it’s time. Outfitted with 2 roll out windows on each side, like those you might find in a mobile home of the same decade. If you were lucky enough, you got a seat by a window. There was no breeze to really speak of by the window. It all seemed to be down draft as the window itself; but in the hot July sun, the mirage of a breeze upon your face was enough to manipulate the minds of the passengers, that this seat was cooler. The air was sticky sweet with sweat and the smell of pine.

Laid upon sleeping bags, tents, and boxes of groceries, 5 strangers in the enclosed haven of the camper shell, were labored with the task of endless hours of travel. All day long our bodies twitched and ached to expel the energy of our youth. Motionless games of the mind were lost and won. Stories and jokes were shared. Towards the end of a day’s journey, patience was depleted, and tempers would flare soon if the glorious reprieve of a bathroom break and stop for the night were not to be had within the hour.

Growing up, our family would move on to take a vacation to the Frio River every year. It all began with this 2-week journey to Colorado in the camper shell. Although the phrase had not yet been coined, we were a newly “blended” family. Our destination was, Colorado.

That summer we truly got to know each other on a very real and personal level. We rode in close quarters together, forced to interact with each other for 8 to 10 hours a day. When we stopped for the night, we did not rent a hotel room, we camped. We camped primitively. Every night we pitched tents. Not those tents from today that have 2 fiberglass rods that cross each other, and you’re done. No, these tents were made in hell. The hell of fifty thousand poles and knots to be tied that must be precise. If your knots and stakes were not tied properly, you could be in for a rough night. These tents took several people to set up correctly. We were forced to work together as a team. Firewood had to be gathered, dinner cooked, and dishes done, all without light more than a Coleman lantern could provide and usually without running water. The first 4 days were torture. We struggled to communicate and fought about who knew how to do it and who should be in charge.

The love of nature grasp me here, at this point. It was real, honest, could not lie or deceive. It was absolute with clear rules and majesty not to be questioned, only challenged.

On we traveled, detouring to sights and wonders never seen or even imagined. Glorious things we saw that impacted me personally to later drive me to live beyond the coast of my hometown.

Once we hit Colorado, we were a well-oiled machine of survivors. Ranks had been earned, talents had been noticed, and eventually the fragmented children we were, fell into a rhythm. Our learned knowledge of tying knots proved true in the mountains of Breckenridge where winds whipped in the night and snow still lay upon the ground in mid-July. We quickly realized knowing how to properly secure our tents with the correct knot-to-stake ratio, was key!

That summer brought 5 strangers together that learned how to lean on each other and work together to accomplish any goal and overcome every challenge, together.

The ties that bind.

The ties that bind us, are proven. They have been tried and tested. They have proven themselves to hold secure. They do not disappoint or fail. When we earn the knowledge and practiced the experience, we are sure in our knots and ties.

This recollection of my childhood came to me recently when I was confronted with a simple question regarding my faith and God’s calling upon my life, “How can you be so sure?”

I am sure because I have a tried-and-true relationship with Him. I have been tested and I have thrown out my fleece. Although I have failed at times, HE has held secure. Always. He has never failed or disappointed me, if only I could say I have reciprocated the same in our relationship. There have been times when it was truly rough and terrible; like traveling and being tested for days on end with people you don’t know. People who don’t understand you.

When I look back and remember that summer, although I have focused on them now to make a point, I don’t reminisce about the hardships. I don’t dwell on the heat of the camper shell or the difficulty of the transition. I remember washing laundry upstream in a river on rocks, and how fun it was to watch them “rinse” as they flowed downstream to my new siblings to catch and wring dry. I remember waterfalls discovered at Big Bend and tin cups of hot coffee over a campfire in 10-degree weather on a cold, Colorado morning. Nothing levels the playing field like mutual need. It created a bond. A tie.

No matter what challenge we face today, there are those times we have had with our Heavenly Father, where we can look back and see how He has grown us and brought us closer to Him. Periods of the valley low as well as victory upon the mountain top.

In the hardships we face every day, in every trial and area of growth we are challenged with, let us not forget what truly holds us to hope. What holds us to Him.

God has proven to be my knot that is sure.

He is the tie that binds my heart.

— Sandra K. Andrews