I was in an enormous Boy Scout troop from sixth grade through early high school and earned my Eagle Scout in December of 1984. This was a time before politics took over the BSA, and it had a much more manly culture then. Now, you should understand that the difference between our unit, Troop 80, and other Scouting programs was the sizable number of men committed to the cause. Because of their dedication, our Troop became one of the largest in our area, if not the entire state of Texas. Through hard work, patience, persistence, and strategy, the Troop incorporated and even built its own meeting hall.
Very few Boy Scout outfits achieve such stature. The other Troops in the area hated us. Of course, that just made us more proud of who we were. One of my friends, an Eagle Scout with another Troop, always talked like we were the Imperial Guard from Star Wars or something. We were big and tough and victorious at Field Day events. Indeed, it takes a strong commitment from a solid group of men to create such a program.
I believe this intersection of Scouting and my journey was a providential move God brought into my life. I didn’t learn much from my dad, but I learned a lot from the men in Troop 80. While I hunted for meaning from my adopted father, mostly coming up empty-handed, there were many times when God seemed to bring these men along at just the right time to encourage me.
Despite the pain in those years, there were little hints of hope from events and people who dropped in on my life from time to time in ways that made me think that quite possibly there was a God out there someplace. Throughout scripture, we do so that there is something to this providential reality. Toward the end of the book of Genesis, Joseph says that while his brothers meant evil toward him, God secretly used their choices to bring Joseph into a place of authority to save his family and the world.
Another staggering story comes from Corrie ten Boom, who survived the Nazi Ravensbrück concentration camp in World War II. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent there from Holland after being captured for hiding Jews in their home. She shares their story in her book, The Hiding Place. At one point, Betsie expresses gratitude for the fleas in their bunks. Gratitude for fleas? That sounds insane, but she could connect the dots to a blessing – these fleas kept the camp guards from coming into their rooms to rape them.
It is true. The apostle notes that in everything, God will work for the good of those who love him. Even though I don’t consider my adopted dad a significant mentor in my life and relate some brokenness to how he treated me at times, I still learned some principles from him on sacrifice and how to protect my family. To this day, I always ensure my wife’s car is taken care of because that’s what Dad did for my mom. He had a good work ethic, taking on two jobs simultaneously once, and I learned from that.
Yes, there was and is brokenness for all of us. But tiny rays of light always pierced through the darkness, like those moments in the mountains when the sun shines through the clouds during a late afternoon shower. Yes, it seemed like there just might be a God after all, and a good one at that.
In thinking back, where can you find the fingerprint of God’s moving covertly for good?
Like the men of Troop 80 and my church who spoke into my life, are there others you can bless and build into their lives? Maybe God might be moving to work through you in His providence.