The 10 Tent Stakes of Our Worldview | Lessons from the Wilderness


I love opening up the door to my tent in the early hours of the morning after a good night sleep. As I unzip the door, who knows what I will see: A stunning sunrise, a thick fog hanging over the valley below as I peer out from the vista of my alpine bivvy, or a herd of yaks like the one’s captured in this photo by my friend Thomas Haines high in the Himalayas. Like the view from my tent, I also wake up each day with a view of the world based upon my knowledge, beliefs, and experiences.


One of the values of wilderness or adventure trips is they take us to the end of ourselves which opens up the dusty shutters of our soul and ushers in the fresh breeze of a biblical worldview. When we reach our limits, like standing at the edge of a cliff, we finally start looking out the window of our soul to see the world as God sees it. Being pushed to our limits forces us to consider our limitless Creator staring right in our eyes. Sometimes it requires reaching our limits in understanding or physical ability to finally submit to the One who has no limits, Jesus Christ.

King David speaks openly of coming to the end of himself through time in the wilderness. This psalm highlights how his worldview was shaped by simply sleeping under the stars:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)


Our worldview is simply a collage of knowledge and experiences through which we see and understand the world. It’s important because how we view the world shapes how we live. If it were possible to generalize the main features of one’s worldview, I suppose it could be broken down into ten main areas of knowledge and experience. The ancients used different words than we do today. But like the tent pegs that hold up our tent in the furry of a storm, there are ten main pegs of knowledge that prop up our worldview.

RELATED POST | Outdoor Illustrations for “Death to Self”: Dry Streams + Dead Branches

You’ll recognize each of these tent pegs because they are all a regular part of what we study in school: Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, Biology (and the Sciences), Psychology, Sociology, Law, Politics, Economics, History. This blog series, Using Outdoor Ministry to Teach the Worldview of Jesus, will address how outdoor adventure and time in the wilderness with God can be like reading a Worldview for Dummies book full of tangible illustrations and object lessons to show us what the Bible teaches about these 10 aspects of our worldview. As another resource, my book, Christian Outdoor Leadership dives into a deep well of object lessons and teachable moments we can experience from time spent in the outdoors.

David, the wilderness theologian that he was, had his view of God profoundly shaped by such experiences as star-gazing and waking up at dawn to realize that God had been present with him as he arose to meet the morning:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths,you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.


The wilderness is real and never lies. I look out of my tent at it’s pristine beauty, and know that it is true, God created it. Yet when I look into the landscape of my personal worldview, it might be full of lies, misconceptions, and worldly ideas.  As we gain a Biblical worldview, we begin to see that God’s Word has something to say about each of these 10 aspects of our worldview. The Creation is full of illustrations and teachable moments to help us grasp the comprehensive worldview that the Bible is offering us.


Let’s face it, ideas have consequences, good or bad. Ideas determine how we behave. And ideas are caught through what we study, watch, and listen to. Ideas are caught like catching a cold.  So consider who and where you spend your time. Who do you spend the most time with?  You might be catching their ideas (good or bad). And where do you spend your time? The ancients, like David, spent considerable time in the outdoors where they were constantly reminded of God’s character through the way he designed Creation. How much time do you regularly spend in retreat in the outdoors? Consider this: Your time outdoors or lack thereof, might also be impacting your worldview (good or bad).

RELATED POST | Where Performance Anxiety Crosses the Line and Sickens the Soul

By contrast, decide now to immerse yourself in Jesus and a biblical view of the world. The Bible offers a breathtaking view of pristine beauty like unzipping your tent at sunrise to the view of an untouched wilderness landscape. I think we would all prefer that view if we had the choice.

We do have that choice.


  • Spend some time out in Creation and do something that will take you to the end of yourself (like a long hike, a day of solitude, a few hours of complete silence, etc.)
  • From your time of silence or solitude, name one area of your life that feels out of control, or unsettling to you.  Search God’s Word for what it says about that issue?
  • Prayerfully think of someone you know who seems to be nourished by a biblical worldview on this issue and seek them out to learn from them.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

8 thoughts on “The 10 Tent Stakes of Our Worldview | Lessons from the Wilderness

  1. I love the image of unzipping the tent to the unknown outside. While I have never experienced a herd of yak in front of my tent before, there is something almost magical in opening the tent and stepping out into the day. It is more amazing when you arrived at your destination during the night not knowing what the scenery is going to look like in the light (this usually only happens with car camping). I also resonate with the other posts and the part that talks about finding God when we reach out limits. Most of the time I hear testimonies about people finding God when they’ve hit rock bottom and I can see parallels in wilderness experiences. There is something to being outside under the stars that reminds me of how small I am yet God loves me and created the whole universe because he wanted to and wanted us to enjoy it.

    I have noticed that the things and people that I spend the most time with and doing tend to shape how I act and what I desire. Like Melissa, I have a choice to make every day if I am going to spend time with Jesus or not. The struggle comes when I know that I need time with him and in the word, but lack the motivation to get out of the apartment and at least take a walk down the path along the river. I face many choices each that will guide my heart and spirit through the day both good and bad. This is where I need other believers around me in community to help me along in my journey so that I can make wise choices that yield growth in my life and not a retardation of my potential.

  2. I love the image that you call forth when talking about coming to the end of ourselves only to experience God there. You say, “When we reach our limits, like standing at the edge of a cliff, we finally start looking out the window of our soul to see the world as God sees it. Being pushed to our limits forces us to consider our limitless Creator staring right in our eyes. Sometimes it requires reaching our limits in understanding or physical ability to finally submit to the One who has no limits, Jesus Christ.” It is here that we thrusted into the ultimate sense of humility. We are forced to give up on our own understanding, intelligence, ability, capacity, fitness, or whatever it may be and rely completely and wholly on Jesus Christ. It is like when Paul refers to having confidence in the flesh in Philippians citing things like circumcision, heritage, lawfulness, and other human endeavors. He shows that there is just no sense putting our trust in the things of this world. When we reach our limit we have no other choice than to rely on God or crumble beneath the weight of failure. There is so much freedom that comes with trust in the Creator of the universe. It is here that we are given a clean slate that allows for failure, defeat, and destitution all within the confines of eternal salvation. When we reach the end of ourselves joy and sorrow go hand in hand as Christ makes a way for us to experience more deeply the fullness of his love. We see this in how we view ourselves and others with a richness we could not come to on our own. When we view this life with a blessed assurance there is no means too great to come under complete submission of the One who created that very life.

  3. Early in your post, your statement of “When we reach our limits, … we
    finally start looking out the window of our soul to see the world as God
    sees it” really spoke to me. It is further reinforced through your listing of the 10 tent poles of worldview. So often we want to think of God being involved in the theological realm only, with people fending for themselves in the other 9. But if we are to see the world as God sees it, encompassing all of the 10 tent pole areas, we really must come to the end of our rope. Before then, we still have hope in ourselves, trusting that we can make it on our own, being our own god. Only at that point where we realize that life is so much bigger than ourselves are we forced to reach out and cling to God for our strength. Spending time in the outdoors can definitely stretch you to this point of seeing the world through God’s eyes.

  4. I appreciated what you said at the very end about how we have a choice what we do, how we spend our time, who we hang around, and ultimately what we believe. In the busyness of life it can be easy to feel like these attributes become out of our control. We have things we “have to” do; we have meetings with people; we have down time and schedule time; we have tons of influencing facts… it can be easy to just kind of get swept up in the steam of things.

    Yet choice seems to be the key to it all. Ultimately, I have the choice whether or not I want to spend time with Jesus today – whether that is in the outdoors or not. Ultimately, I have the choice whether I am going to let His worldview paint my worldview. Doing so comes down to making the little choices towards Jesus. Does my time management glorify Him? Does how I spend my money and how I talk glorify Him? Does the way I live and treat people glorify Him? Do I make the time to retreat, am I able to say no in order to take care of my soul? Do I have idols that distract me from Jesus? Ultimately- do I believe in what Jesus says about me or do I let the world dictate who I am? Am I letting Jesus be the Lord of my life? Thanks for pushing me to consider that question in my own life; as well as consider how to bring people into the outdoors so they can consider the same things.

  5. I liked the part towards the end where you mention to be careful who you spend significant time with.  I’ve heard this quote over and over, but can’t remember where it came from.  John Maxwell maybe?  “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”  Very interesting to think about that some time.  
    I love getting to the end of myself physically, but tend to not enjoy it as much when God takes me there.  I think because I fully realize that I’m not really in control.  But what relief comes after that when I’m reminded that God is always watching over us.  Maybe not in the ways we think he should, but that’s when we must trust His supreme goodness.  Lots of rambling and thoughts today from me.  Thanks for this post Ashley.  Very timely for me as I head to Wisconsin this weekend to run a trail 50k.  I’ve done these before, but am very undertrained for this particular time.  So, I will definitely be taken to the end of myself physically.  Should be fun!

    •  Wow, Thad, thanks for that. And wow, wow, have a great time on your 50k… maybe you’ll glean some insight to pass on to others!

Comments are closed.