Most backcountry enthusiasts follow the mantra, “leave no trace.” Like the attitudes we cop when we have to “share the trail” with someone who is doing something different than us, I was reminded on the trail this past weekend that our sin can also leave a measurable impression. Like so many spiritual metaphors, time in the outdoors is a wikipedia of object lessons. We may think we are without sin or our rebellion only affects ourselves but more likely our behavior leaves a trail “littered with loose debris.”
Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest is chocked full with wisdom and illustrations for outdoor ministry applications. One my favorites is his October 2nd reflection, “The Sphere of Humiliation,” based on the mountain of transfiguration in Mark 9:2-32.
If you ever feel tempted to believe that you can’t make a difference, or that your vote doesn’t count, consider a story from the 4th century about a Monk named, Telemachus. His courageous and selfless act forever changed a culture.
One sound softens my heart and soothes my soul more than any other: the trickle of a brook, the gurgle of a tributary, the gush of a stream, the rush of a waterfall, the roar of a river, and the hush of a waterway. Each sound summons a deep restful peace.
The trustworthiness of God is the anchor of our faith in him. Yet even though he can be trusted, we continue to doubt or wane in our faith at times. That is why wilderness experiences are so valuable–they lift us out of our pits of doubt.
Like the contrast between bright snow and gray granite peaks, as I spend time with Jesus in the darkness of the morning, I am continually reminded that the Living Word of the biblical text is a drastic contrast to the regular diet of external worldly voices and internal doubts that I entertain everyday.
Spending time in the outdoors is an incredibly eye-opening experience in that God’s Creation is full of illustrations that can teach us about deep spiritual realities. This reflection highlights two very common outdoor illustrations: 1) dried-up intermittent streams, and 2) dead branches.
How easy it is to cut corners in life. The same is true in our spiritual journey. When approaching difficulty in your walk with God, don’t fall prey to these two temptations: 1) giving up and heading back to previous comforts, or 2) hiking straight up the hill in your own strength.
My intent as a leader was to show the group through the analogy of a starry night how to get away from the light pollution of the city by going out into the wilderness where it is brilliantly dark, so that the stars will shine brighter.
There are two types of Bible Study questions. Ones that invite participation and open dialogue, and others that throw a wet blanket on conversation and leave the leader paralyzed in the discomfort of silence. How do you phrase a question that will invite participation?