We are a week deep into July and well into the summer camping season. Children of all ages are attending church, Scout, and sports camps scattered all over our country. Cookouts, homesickness, and new friendships all accompany summer camp along with a few pranks along the way.

I still remember a camping trip that I attended while still a youth at Valley Pike Church of the Brethren. Our youth leaders bravely took several carloads of us teenagers to Brethren Woods near Keezletown in Rockingham County. Although we often stayed in the A-frame during our winter visits, this summertime trip found us sleeping in the tarp-covered hogans in Walnut Creek hollow.

The very first day the girls got into our boys’ area and put rocks and leaves in our bedrolls, pillows, and backpacks. Since it was early in the weekend, there was plenty of time for paybacks and one of our male leaders casually remarked to us younger guys that there were frogs down by the lake at night.

We couldn’t wait till dark. With flashlights and Number 10 cans in hand, we collected several of the slippery big-eyed amphibians that we promptly transported to the girls’ hogan. Although they had taken the precaution of posting a guard, she had, unfortunately (for them), fallen asleep on duty. As quietly as possible, we relocated the frogs from our cans into their sleeping bags and clothing. It was the perfect crime.

Later that evening, as we were playing games around the picnic tables, the girls bragged about their clever prowess and their wise safeguard, little knowing the terror that awaited them. We boys played it cool laughing along, admitting that we’d been had while anxiously awaiting lights out.

Sure enough, a few hours later when all were dispatched to their appropriate quarters, the shrieks began. First one, then several more as they began to discover the pets we had left for them. Needless to say, that prank was not topped and one that still brings smiles today.

This remembrance of summer fun can teach us a valuable lesson, however. Many times we mistakenly believe we have life all under control. We think that our money, intelligence, and position are adequate watchmen against the trials that come our way. Even more dangerous is our foolish conviction that we are immune from certain temptations because we’re too strong for them.

While there is nothing wrong in preparing financially for life’s challenges and erecting safeguards against sin, all too often the frogs are already in our beds and we don’t even know it. We may either brag verbally or swell with pride internally as we look down on others we consider more foolish than ourselves who are struggling in some way. We little suspect the surprises that await us when the earthly means we trust in turn out to be ineffective and “sleeping” through our most vulnerable times.

In Proverbs 16:18, Solomon warned us that, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” History is filled with individuals and nations which became proud in their own accomplishments and thought themselves invincible, only to be destroyed by internal weaknesses already at work.

The best way to protect against life’s challenges is to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding, money, brains, or talent. Ultimately all of these will fail us but Jesus never will. Not only can he prevent the enemy from stashing frogs in our beds, but he can also remove the ones already there if we ask him to.

As the children enjoy their summer camps this year, may they remind us not to become too smug and proud in our own strength, but to look to the Lord who watches over all. Summer Blessings, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 13 books including a weekly devotional, “Blessings Volume II,” which is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.