A puff of smoke rose up from among the spruce and fir trees at the far end of Gooseneck Lake. I commented to Shane Belding in the boat with me, that I had seen smoke in the woods. He glanced towards the smoke and said, “That doesn’t look good. Somebody must be camping out there.” We both turned back to our fishing and soon forgot about it.
A group of pastors and another young Christian and I were spending several days at the annual Shepherd’s Camp for pastors in Northern Ontario. The camp was at Road Lake and we were enjoying the fellowship, the teaching from God’s Word and fishing the cold-water lakes of the Canadian Shield. The first night we were there we went out in the boats to explore the lake and see if we could catch some walleye and small-mouth bass for supper the following day. The sky was bright and the waters smooth. We tried a popping topwater lure on a small bay full of weeds. The waters came alive with small bass striking at the lure. We moved on father down the lake trying our luck in deeper water. Unexpectedly a wind came up and rain drops broke the serenity of the surface of the lake. Thunder could be heard in the distance. Soon the rain began pelting down and the thunder wasn’t far behind the flash. “I think that it is time to go in,” Shane said, as he started the V Max outboard. The rain felt like hail on my face as we headed towards the landing with lightning flashing all around.
The next day, Shane suggested to Pastors Tim Friesen, Jake Letkeman, and me that we go to Goose Neck Lake to fish. Shane had one boat and Brock Clink, the young Christian, had the other. There would be lots of bass and jackfish there. We soon had the boats in the water and headed out to find the best fishing spots. We met up for lunch, shared the “fish that got away stories” then we all went in different directions again. “I wonder where Brock is”, Shane said after a while. Brock, the youngest in the group, a professional fishing guide, had the second boat. “Let’s go look for him.” Coming around the bend we could see his boat at the end of the lake where I had seen the puff of smoke earlier. They were on the shore doing something and there was still smoke hanging in the air. “Let’s go over.” Arriving at the far shore we could see them carrying water in the minnow bucket and jugs into the woods. They had stopped to investigate the smoke and had found that there had been a lightning strike the night before during the storm. A tree exploded and caught fire. Splinters were everywhere. The moss-covered forest floor was all burnt up in an area of about 40 square meters. Trees were almost burnt off at their base and were swaying, soon to fall. The cold lake water hissed and turned to steam as it was poured onto the burning moss. As we put the flames out on the surface one of the men dug down and discovered that it was still burning two to three feet under. There was no way that we were going to get the fire put out with what we had to work with. Not only that, the wind was beginning to pick up and if the fire took off again there would be no way to stop it. Our camp was less than four kilometers away in the direction the wind was blowing. Somehow, we had to get the fire out.
One of the men went out to the lake to see if he could get a signal for his phone and was able to send a message to the forestry service, that there was a fire at Goose Neck Lake. Soon we heard the throb of a chopper coming in the distance. The sleek red and white helicopter circled around a number of times and then cautiously approached and touched down on the boat landing. Four young men dressed in fluorescent orange jackets and yellow and orange helmets piled out and unloaded water pumps, a power saw, shovels, picks, back packs and boxes of gear. Shane and Brock took them in the boats to where the fire was and in about a half an hour every last spark was put out.
That night we praised and thanked the Lord for showing us that He had everything under His control. If that fire would have taken off and gotten out of control we could have lost everything at Camp Bemahdezewin, the camp that veteran Baptist Mid-Missions’ missionary, Garth Roberts, had started back in the eighties. What struck us as interesting, is that God led us to the very lake to fish where there had been a lightning strike the night before and where there was the potential for a great forest fire.
Experiences like this teach us that God is in complete control. He anticipates our needs and directs our thoughts and steps before we even realize it.
Isaiah 65:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
While some would believe in fate – “we just happened to be in the right place at the right time”, God’s Word teaches us that God in His wisdom, love and goodness cares for us and directs in our lives to bring things to pass. Through His Divine providence, God accomplishes His will. For the Christian, it is a life of faith and trust in God, the Creator of this world who governs in the affairs of men and the natural laws of nature. God is in complete control in every detail of each day and in each of our lives. On that particular day, God led us to be in the right place at the right time to save Camp Bemahdezewin from a possible fire. God is good!
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”