God used a sixty-year old camp blanket in several different ways. Visiting my parents the night prior to a Vermont mission trip, I commented on the unpredictable weather forecast.
My mother asked if I wanted to borrow her “camp blanket.” I had never seen or heard of this camp blanket. She retrieved it and began to tell me its story.
When my mother was a little girl, her mom sewed tiny strips of cloth to the bottom corners of this rectangle-shaped, cotton blanket. Two additional strips of cloth were sown in the bottom of her sleeping bag. When her family went camping, her mother would tie the camp blanket inside the sleeping bag to keep her warm. The strips kept the blanket from getting all twisted up inside. What a great idea.
The thin cotton blanket would be perfect for travel in the car. Knowing how some passengers like it cool; I could cover up with it. Its weight would be perfect, not too light and not too heavy.
Why had I not ever heard about or seen this blanket before? My grandmother passed away when my mother was only twenty years old. I guess this was something she had held onto all these years. It held special memories for her. I was a rough-and-tumble kind of kid so my mama probably didn’t dare trust me with the blanket when I was young. At age forty-six, I guess she thought I was old enough to take care of it now.
Mama did ask me to be very careful with it, which I promised I would.
The blanket served its purpose very well and kept me comfortable while traveling. Each morning, I gently folded it up and placed it in a safe place.
One night, a lady on my team decided her Bible story would work best if she had someone to act out the part of Jesus. She had not planned on this and therefore, had nothing appropriate for "Jesus" to wear. Our volunteers had only packed shorts, jeans and shirts. I immediately thought of the camp blanket. It was a plain cream-colored cotton fabric. It would be perfect.
So, Jesus wore the blanket around his shoulders one night as the story about the woman drying his feet with her hair unfolded before the children’s eyes. They learned about a woman’s love for Jesus.
The last night of VBS, Jesus wore the blanket again. This time the story was told about how Jesus can cleanse us from our sins. The children learned about Jesus’ love for them.
Overjoyed after nineteen souls were saved, I didn’t really look at the blanket as I packed it away that night. It wasn’t until later my heart sunk as I saw the three-inch tear ripped on one side. I wasn’t sure how my mother would react. She had told me repeatedly to please take care of the blanket and now it was torn.
We came home Saturday night, too exhausted to unpack. Sunday morning, we shared our testimonies about the mission trip. My parents came to hear our stories, which included how God used the old camp blanket.
I didn’t mention the tear until after the worship service. I thought humor might break the blow and told Mama, “Jesus tore your blanket.” (It’s probably not ever good to blame Jesus for anything.) I told her how sorry I was it happened and I would sew it up the best I could. How my mother responded surprised me.
“Leave it,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. “I think my mama would’ve been happy to know how God used her camp blanket. Leave the tear. I want to remember how God used it.”
Now, I have another precious memory of my mama.
(If we will let go of all the things we hold dear, and give them to God, He will amaze us with what He can do with them and through them…more than we can imagine!)