Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I remember when I started backpacking. I had fallen in love with a park in Upstate South Carolina called Table Rock. A friend of mine had invited me to this park with his family when I was in tenth grade. It was amazing. We went back as often as we could after that trip. I had gone to the mountains a lot as a kid with my own family, but this was different. It wasn’t a retreat center. This was real camping and soon this camping led to other expeditions deeper into the Pisgah National Forest just across the South Carolina border into North Carolina, and then backpacking deep into the nearby Shining Rock Wilderness. It was unbelievable how I felt during these first trips, looking at the views and having these experiences. Backpacking became something of a spiritual pilgrimage for me; in that God found me there and I met Him with open arms and excitement. I loved it. Sometimes, against better judgment, I even went alone. I know better now, but the experience called to me and I wanted more. I still do.
Paul tells the Colossians in chapter 1 verses 5-8 that the good news, the gospel that the Colossians had received from their friend Epaphras, is still as true today as it was when they first heard it. He wants them to understand that nothing has changed and he wants them to stick to what they have been taught and not to be led astray by false teachers who were trying to derail their true focus on Jesus. Paul says:
“The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit (Peterson).”
My backpacking experiences and my hunger and desire for the wilderness can never compare to my love for, and relationship with, Jesus. My passion, hunger, and desire for God far exceed my hobby of backpacking. What is true, however, is that they both call to me, not equally, but both call persistently. Neither experience has fundamentally changed. One trip leads to another and builds on another, just as one moment with God leads to another and builds to a deeper longing, knowledge, and passion for just one more moment. The relationship that I have with God today is just as true as the day I first understood it, and I remember when I started following Jesus. This recollection is much more vivid than the first time that I hit the trail. I remember, and He calls to me, and I go to Him, and connect with Him.
Recollecting God and Wilderness,
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 2002.