Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Mystery Creek - it sounds like a BBC soap opera.

"Well now on BBC ONE, it's all happening in the lives of the residents of... Mystery Creek." :)

In fact, this weekend Mystery Creek in Hamilton was playing host to the Parachute Christian rock festival - sort of like Greenbelt, but smaller and not as hot. :)

Having had recent dealings with Life fm, Rhema, Hope City FM and (to a lesser extent) Detour 180, I really reckoned I just had to go.

Therefore last Friday morning I prayed "Dear God. If you want me to go to Parachute, then have me go. If you don't, then stop me." Within 3 hours, quite unexpectedly, I was given a free tent, sleeping-bag and groundsheet. That had taken some divine setting-up.

Thus on Saturday evening at about 8pm I arrived in the soapily-named Mystery Creek in Hamilton, pitched said tent, and headed-off to watch, among others, Audio Adrenaline and Brooke Fraser (7.5 out of 10 - I'm sorry, I like her singing, but I just didn't go much on her chatting).

I spent that night vomitting more wholly and completely than ever before in my entire life. I swear there was nothing else left to come out of me. In my Top 10 Most Painful Conditions I'd Suffered, this was a new entry straight in at number 1, but for me the biggest mystery in Mystery Creek was... why?

As my spinning head hung down a public toilet (some distance from my tent), all my attempts to trace this back to something I'd eaten just drew a blank. Eventually, after well over an hour, I staggered outside, only to realise that I wasn't going to make it, and returned for a second sitting, or more accurately a second sicking.

There was no doubt about it. I was going home. Home? The youth hostel??? What would be better there - being stomach-twistingly ill in a tiny windowless cupboard with 3 other, increasingly nervous, roommates? No, I was well and truly off-the-scale here. I'd been hospitalised twice in my life, for broken bones, but I'd never, ever, been this ill.

I knew people who lived nearby, but while I thought they would help, this was not the way to get in touch. It was time to do the unthinkable. It was time to call in my insurance policy. I needed a hospital.

I was weak. I was beaten. I was going.

Then I remembered - I had to give glory to God in these situations.

So I forced the words together.

Trying to concentrate on the site-map for the umpteenth time, I figured-out where the medical tent was, and staggered, bent-double and shaking with cold, outside and across the freezing grass. It was only about 100 metres away.

It was too far.

I have absolutely no idea how long I lay unconscious for in a freezing cold field in the dead of night, with a pile of vomit next to my mouth.

When I finally came round, I found the medical tent, and went in knowing how drunk/high this lifelong tee-totaller would look, despite his protests.

Steve (slurring) "Bud I'm nod drunker."
Doctor with hypo "No Mr Goble, of course you're not. (whispers) Nurse - fetch the chains."

In truth those volunteers who were kind enough to stay up all night, it has to be said, really couldn't offer me much. But what they could offer I was glad of. Light, a blanket, some hot chocolate that I couldn't keep down, and company. I slipped onto autopilot and began interviewing one of them about his photographic hobby. I remember little else, other than being given a bit of water with a pill (I never take pills, except today) and the advice "When you get back to your tent [on the far side of the site] put on all your warm clothes."

When I got back, it was gone 7am. People were waking up. There was that hum of people, music, microphones starting early and feedback tuning-up that you always get around you in a tent. I struggled into what warm clothes I had brought to go camping in in summer, and an hour later realised what a mistake this was. The sun was up. I was in a tent. I was trussed-up like an eskimo and too tired to take anything off. I had started the hour with no moisture at all in my body, and now I had even less.

I really don't know whether anything that happened in the next 4 hours counts as sleep, just as I don't think that time with one's eyes shut on a long-haul aeroplane counts. At some point I stripped-off and, instead of merely cooking, drowned. The prospect of doing anything that day, especially staying, was impossible, especially when it would all start with having to figure out complicated things like finding and negotiating a cramped port-a-shower.

Eventually, at about noon, I gave up on sleep and ventured out into the beating midday midsummer sun. And I had breakfast.

And I made about 200 iced coffees on the Rhema tent, where God also provided a free lunch and dinner. And I made and saw some more friends. I even saw a play "It's Not Too Late" about the terrible Columbine massacre.

Jesus never refused to heal anyone. He also paid for our healing. Sickness was never part of God's plan, which makes it part of Satan's.

The provision of a free tent appears to be from God to get me there.

The sickness appears to be from Satan, to get me away.

There appears to have been a rather fought-over reason why I was there.

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