Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I've been running a lot lately, and the more I run the more I want to run.  But every time I run, I am running away from things, and also running to things.  God is teaching me what it means to run with freedom, and just tonight I started a Bible Study by Cynthia Heald about how to Run the Race with Freedom.  He is still shaping the lessons in my heart, so I won't say much about it yet, but ponder this question with me and we will look for the answer together: 

                     Who or What are you running from?

                                      Who or What are you running to?

please pardon the improper grammar above.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


If there ever were a miracle food to cure whatever ails you, it would be water.  

Water is the best remedy for hunger, headaches, pain, and all types of sickness.  If you're cold, drink water. If you're tired, drink water.  If you're thirsty, drink water!  I lead a lot of outdoor adventure trips, and the most common treatment I advise for fatigue, fear, coldness, or just about any other common complaint is water.  It really works!

Nothing quenches thirst or satisfies needs like water.  This fall I backpacked for a couple days in Yosemite, following some lesser-known trails to the most incredible vistas in the park.  What struck me as the most difficult part of the 3,000 foot gain in elevation was rationing my water.  I carried about a gallon of water at a time and drank most of my supply each day. I'm used to hiking on the East Coast, where streams, puddles, and lakes are abundant.  Running out of water is never a danger.  But hiking on the lip of Yosemite Canyon at the end of a dry summer creates a whole new challenge.  Here, streams are not abundant and the famous Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, was reduced to barely a trickle.  If this major water source was dried up, how was I supposed to expect other water sources to be available in this unexplored wilderness? 
My fear of running out of water escalated as I realized an increasing desire and need for hydration.  California's climate is as foreign to wet and wonderful West Virginia as are its inhabitants.  No matter how much I drank, my lips always remained parched and I always desired more water.  As I pushed on, I found myself daydreaming of the end of the trip when water would be available, endless, and free.  

One of the things I love most about water is that in most cases it is free.  Just by boiling out contaminants, I can drink my fill of clean, refreshing, healthy water anywhere I go.  It is one of the greatest provisions of life that God has given His creatures.  

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.  Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.  From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. Psalm 104: 10-13

It's not a surprise that God has chosen water as a metaphor for the most precious, satisfying, essential gift He has given to mankind. This gift is entirely free, limitless, unmerited, and it provides health and strength for all areas of life.  

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.  The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock."  Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:10-14

Like water, the Lord Jesus' free gift of eternal life is all too often polluted, wasted, or taken for granted. Many try to replace water with soda, milk, etc.  It is not wrong to drink things other than water on occasion, but nothing will satisfy thirst in the same way as pure, plain water.  Some earthly pleasures may seem to satisfy for a moment but nothing can meet our need for God like the Living Water of salvation, which is Jesus' free gift of forgiveness and new life made possible by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.  

Are you wasting water?  Am I taking for granted the gift of life?  How are we unknowingly polluting the purity of the gospel?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Discovery of the Spot

--an excerpt from a nature journal, January 2007--

And then I knew I had found the perfect spot.  This boulder has an awesome view of the Gorge, rocky cliffs, and half of the New River Gorge Bridge.  It's more than just an amazing view though.  It's the kind of place that begs you to explore it....
The most intriguing part is-- I can hear a waterfall really close but I can't see it.  It's probably rushing through one of the little chasms that I'm too afraid to get to.  In a way, I'm glad I can't see the waterfall, because that way I can imagine it to be bigger and better than it might actually be.  Plus, I like the idea that there's something too wild for me to get to very easily.  For all I know there could be a trail that leads right to the waterfall-- or even a trail that leads to my spot. ... But I don't know for sure, and I like to think that I'm the only one that has seen this place in years, or that knows how to get here.  The sense of mystery and aloneness makes it feel more wild.
It's nice to know that there are still places like this-- places where all the questions aren't answered, or you have to work to find the answer.  What is even more amazing to thing about is that God delights in this place even more than I do-- and He is thrilled that I love it.  How can anyone see a valley so full of trees and rocks that you can't possibly know how many secrets are hiding there-- hear a never-ending waterfall that sounds so alive in a dead winter-- or feel a warm, golden sun and an icy breeze at the same time-- and not be overwhelmed with gratefulness to God? 
Thank you Lord for wild places! 

 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.  Psalm 24:1 

to begin...

Why am I starting this blog?  Why do we ever start something new? It has something to do with the thrill and challenge of embarking on a fresh adventure, taking the first step toward a lofty and noble goal.  It also has something to do with the desire to share and be known, to keep my heart from drying up while it is waiting, hidden away.  But perhaps the main reason for this particular blog is to keep myself on track: to keep myself always looking for God in everything I do.

Yes, this blog has a deeper purpose than airing the inner ravings and ramblings of my mind.  My desire is to use this place to share lessons I have learned through explorations and meditations on the things that God has created.  I love wilderness, even when it's just found in a straggly unmowed strip by the side of the road.  I love adventures, especially when they are reminiscent of romping through the backyard as a kid.  But I have learned since then that wilderness--adventure--life--has a deeper purpose that can be only be discovered through firsthand encounters.   God's World points to God's Word to teach us about Himself and about the kingdom of God.  (Ever notice how often Jesus pointed to natural objects to teach heavenly truths?)

So join me as we explore the world, far and near, to find the treasures of wisdom that God has hidden in plain sight all around us.  It will be an adventure!