Anyone who knows me knows I love the outdoors. It is where I choose to play and where I can live life to the fullest. And, in no small part due to the Rescue Mission, it is where I find God.
I started going to Camp I’d Ra Ha Je (I’d Rather Have Jesus) back when I was six years old. From then on, I have always associated a love for the outdoors with a love for God. After all, you can’t fully appreciate a beautiful painting without some measure of respect for the creator of that work of art. Creation has always been one of my big reasons for belief as well. How can someone look at a magnificent sunset and not believe in God? Can you say purple mountain majesty? These are the Sawteeth Mountains in central Idaho this past summer. Part of God’s
“Inspiration” series of paintings. Bob Ross has nothin’ on The Lord of Creation.
I’ve always admired Jesus for how he used to pray or when he wanted some time alone. Guess what he did? He climbed. There are at least 16 verses where Jesus goes and climbs a hill or mountain to have time with His Father. Like in Matthew 14:23 “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray…” That is a lesson we can all learn from. I know some people can get immersed in God’s Word anywhere; but I think my environment makes a difference. I know I would rather have birdsong and a babbling brook in the back-round rather than an infomercial blabbering from the other room. I’m not trying to say that the only time you should read your bible, you should be outside. I just wanted to make sure people know that Church is not limited to being inside a building. Some of my most memorable times praising God take place around a campfire under the stars. Just being outside in His beautiful creation lifts my spirits and calms my soul. With the hectic pace of modern life, everyone needs a little peace and quiet with the Father. They are also opportunities to recharge.
I go to a whitewater kayaking festival every October up in the Adirondacks. MooseFest (the Moose River in Old Forge) is always a time for me to unwind and appreciate being outside. To be honest, there is one rapid that is so scary, that I always pray before I go down it. (I guess that’s the opposite of unwinding, actually). Nelson’s Falls is a class IV drop. (the scale goes from I- V) It has multi-drops and several turns. There are usually downed trees blocking parts of it that will trap you underwater if you get stuck in them. Not to mention the rocks and the re-circulating holes that spin you around and around before letting you up for a breath. I always pray as I am getting in my boat after checking the rapid out and just before I push off from shore. One year I made it through most of it and got caught in the last hole. I tried to roll up but was trapped underwater for 45 seconds or so getting pummeled against the rocks by the raging water. Somehow, I knew I would be fine because I had just prayed that God would deliver me. In the middle of the raging foam and rocks pounding my helmet, I had peace knowing God would protect me. As it says in Psalm 18:16 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me: he drew me out of deep waters.” A few seconds later, I popped out and still had the strength to rescue myself and my boat on a rock downstream. This year was much better; I went down twice and didn’t flip at all. Plus the weather was beautiful instead of snow and sleet like a few years ago and the leaves were out in all their splendor.
Moments like that let me look around and really appreciate all that God has given me. The simple fact that I’m sitting here breathing is awesome, let alone that I have a great job at an organization that also honors God. That is something I have to work on. Sometimes it feels like I only pray when I want to ask God for something instead of thanking Him for all He does for me. The next time you are outside, take some time to thank God for all He has given you and what He has done in your life. As it is written, “Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” Heb 12:28
Dan has been at the Mission 8 years. He is currently working in HR as the new Safety/ Training Manager. He got married last summer, bought a house this summer, and is expecting his first child next May.