When I was a child, we used to go camping as a family. We camped in a Bethany trailer camper, which was really a tent on wheels. I have lovingly stolen the picture below from my sister Martha's blog. I don't feel guilty, because it is really my father's photo...as he was the one who took it.
I am the little girl in the red. Martha is the little girl on the far left, and the other child is my sister Rachel. That is my mother with us.
I'm not sure what year it was, but it was an unseasonably cold summer night. I was about 7 I think. We were camping and getting ready to snuggle into our sleeping bags for the night. It was so chilly that my father had brought along a small kerosene space heater. He put it on the floor of the camper so it would generate some heat for us and we went to bed.
It was the middle of the night when I woke up with a very full bladder. I didn't want to get up. It was cold, I just wanted to sleep,...and besides that, the camp bath building was a hike down dark, scary trails. I didn't want to wake either of my parents up. I tried to ignore the sensation. It didn't get any better, that's for sure. I finally decided that I would need to get up and make the necessary trip to the camp bathroom. I climbed out of my sleeping bag and then over the top of my sleeping sister Martha. I made it to the floor of the camper. Everyone else was fast asleep. It was then that I noticed that my sister's pillow had fallen down. I picked it up and tossed it back onto the sleeping platform that she and I shared. I started looking for my shoes and thinking about waking up one of my parents so I wouldn't have to walk alone in the dark.
Suddenly I noticed that while I still had to go to the bathroom, the physical discomfort didn't seem nearly as bad as it had when I had first woken up out of a deep sleep. I didn't think I really needed to bother with the trip after all. I was sure I could hold it until morning, so I left my shoes where they were and once again climbed up over my still sleeping sister, and settled into my sleeping bag. I was comfortably dreaming in no time.
The next morning, we were all up and getting ready to start a new day. Mom started rolling up the sleeping bags and setting up the table that folded down into a sleeping platform. Dad was out starting a fire so breakfast could be cooked, and coffee made for him and Mom. Suddenly, I heard Mom gasp in alarm and ask, "What happened to this?! Who did this!?" She was holding up the pillow I had picked up in the middle of the night. It had dark brown scorch marks on it. I still remember that they were in the shape of the mesh covering that formed the top of the space heater. I was a little afraid to answer her. I thought maybe I had done something wrong.
"Who put this up here?" She asked again. Martha acknowledged that it was her pillow, but she didn't know what had happened to it. I finally fessed up. I told her how I had gotten up in the middle of the night because I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. I told her how I had seen the pillow and knew it had fallen.I just put it back up onto the platform, tossing it toward the end of our sleeping bags...where our short little bodies couldn't reach.
I'll never forget what my mother said next. "Priscilla, that was an angel who woke you up! If you hadn't picked this pillow up, it would have soon burst into flames and we would have all died in a fire!" This left such a big impression on me. A guardian angel had woken me up in the middle of the night. God had used me to save my family from an impending disaster.
Years later while I was in college, I tried to relay this story to some friends. They missed the point and focused on the notion that an angel supposedly had made me feel as though I had to go to the bathroom urgently. They poked fun about it. They made my story seem silly. I don't even think I ended up telling them the rest of it. They had made me feel foolish.
Who's to say that the Lord wouldn't ever send an angel to make a little girl feel like she must get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night in order to save her and her family from certain calamity? Why not?
(Post Script: that was the end of using space heaters in the camper)