I remember an epoch climb when from dawn til dark I climbed not one, but three peaks covering over 20 miles of hiking in one day. Now I’m always up for an adventure, but honestly, I am more of a wanderer in the wilderness and not a driven Alpinist. Well, by the end of the day I was wiped out. I was tired, cranky, hungry, and hadn’t really had much fun because the focus of the day had been more about seeing how much we could do in a day, and not what I would have preferred, which was to just soak in the experience and cover way less ground. What happened next illustrates how wilderness experiences are a window into our soul.

wilderness experiences

When the wind dies down, an alpine lake can be the perfect illustration of a mirror…


Well to make a long story short, I was about to be squeezed like a sponge. When the sun set while sitting atop our last bagged peak for the day, even though I was totally spent, some of the folks in the group said, “lets wait a little while longer up here and then scramble down in the dark.” No longer could I hide my feelings. My frustration squeezed out of my soul.  I said, “I don’t care what the ‘ H – E – double hockey stick’ you guys want to do, but I’m heading down, NOW. You guys are nuts.” Fortunately my friends, who were obviously tougher than me, just smiled and extended grace. But I had found the limits of my patience. Fortunately I didn’t say much else that I would have regretted. But I was looking in a mirror and didn’t like what I saw that day.

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When you squeeze a sponge, you find out what’s in it. Like a soaked sponge getting wrung out, who I really am comes out when the pressure is on.  Trials are also like a mirror to show us the reality of what is inside us. Jesus suffered through his trial and even when squeezed beyond anything any of us could go through, he withstood the test and honored God at his core.  The author of Hebrews describes this squeeze on Jesus and shows us the mirror of how Jesus responded:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered… (Hebrews 5:7-8)


Obviously all of us have sin in our heart. And God loves us enough to bring trials into our lives to cause us to look in the mirror. Wilderness experiences are so great because they are fun, but they also give moments when we get way out of our comfort zone. In those moments, we get to look into the mirror. And often, our friends get to see the mirror as well. This is good, because it is in those moments when we can stop fooling ourselves and own up to our own brokenness and sin. We can humble ourselves before God and our friends, repent, and experience deeper intimacy with Jesus who knows just how we feel, yet never sinned. How great is that to know that Jesus can fully identify with us in every way.

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  1. Yes! I do recall a time during trail training where i looked at my wife and said ” you know babe, i don’t think i like backpacking as much as i thought.” I was feeling quite stretched, the slow fat guy of the group with little to offer. But it was in that hard spot that i felt the depth of my soul being drawn out into a place where i could finally see the real me. My wife and i had a great heart to heart, strengthened our marriage, and i made life long friends. I love backpacking- especially a few days after it gets hard.

    •  Dude, I couldn’t say that better than myself. Thanks for sharing that story bro… that is really powerful stuff!

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