“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.”
– Matthew 10:9-10
Are you ready for an adventure this year? I am. I am excited. Do I know anything about sailing? Not a bit. So, why the title? I read my daily dose of Tozer today, and he talked about Jacob vowing a vow, Daniel purposing his heart, and Jesus setting his face on the cross. He quoted 1 Corinthians 2:2 to describe Paul as determined. Then, he wrote (in The Set of the Sail), “Let us, then, set our sails in the will of God. If we do this we will certainly find ourselves moving in the right direction, no matter which way the wind blows.” In This World: Playground or Battlefield, Tozer wrote, “Every new year is an uncharted and unknown sea. No ship has ever sailed this way before.”
Thus, the title may be that of a sailor preparing for an adventure, but I hope to stay on dry ground for my adventure. After all, the journey of faith has been likened to an adventure. We need to focus on the adventure.
Jesus sent out the disciples, as told in Matthew 10. They had to pack light. They had to be able to move, not weighed down with the things of this world, because they had to go on their own personal journey of faith. God would provide. They would heal the sick and drive out evil spirits. If they could do that, they had no need of gold, silver, or food in their bags. It was an adventure.
For my sixteenth birthday, I went on a backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Our group from northern Mississippi travelled the southern half of the ranch. We divided into three patrols. Each patrol had an adult leader, a nineteen-year-old assistant, and about nine Eagle Scouts (maybe one boy who hadn’t completed everything yet). The patrol that I was in would eventually travel 54 miles on foot over nine days and then 15 miles on horseback to the southeast corner of the ranch, making a big loop. On my birthday (a milestone that was left unknown as far as the rest of the patrol was concerned), I stepped atop the surveying marker on top of Mount Phillips, above the tree line at 11,721ft, the highest point of our journey. We slid and stumbled our way to our primitive camp on the west side of the mountain that night. The trail had disappeared due to rock slides and avalanches. The leader made an inventory of uniform shorts that afternoon, after several of the guys had slid by the seat of their pants down the mountain. Over half of the patrol had ripped pants. The next inventory was for a sewing kit. I was the only one who had one. I was supposed to cook that night, but everyone with torn pants volunteered to do my chores, if I’d mend their shorts. I sewed from then until it got too dark to see. I finished the next morning while more people did my cleaning chores for me. I think there were seven or eight pairs of pants repaired that afternoon, the afternoon of my sixteenth birthday. Sweet! Did I complain about being called the ‘seamstress of Philmont’? Absolutely not. It was an adventure.
Boy Scouts are supposed to be prepared. We were all Eagle Scouts. Why was I the only one prepared? The ranch’s rangers had inspected our packs before we left. Everyone had to take the bare minimum to reduce the weight and increase the space for food and water. Yet, sewing kits are small and weigh practically nothing. We all carried over sixty pounds, even with the bare minimum. Sometimes it was over eighty pounds when the next stop was a primitive camp. These were the old days with canvas tents, wooden tent poles and steel tent stakes. The greatest weight was always the water, carried in a metal canteen. If you are wondering. Three sets of underwear. One set to keep dry for tomorrow. One set to wear. And one set to hang proudly atop your pack for the sun to dry along the trek that day. We did laundry every night. It was an adventure.
One of the adult leaders of another patrol from Mississippi was attacked by a bear. He came away with only scars across one side of the face. He laughed it off, wondering if his wife would allow him to keep his beard to cover the scars. He lived to tell the tale. It was an adventure.
Okay, I’ll tell the tale. He was hungry one night after the patrol had finished the food. He went through the supplies to find an old packet of pancake mix. On a ten-day backpacking trip, everything was dehydrated. Add water and cook. Simple. Only one problem. They were at a primitive camp that night, meaning that the only water was what you brought in your canteens. He had enough for the pancakes and syrup, but not enough to wash his face afterwards. He slept with his head outside the tent to feel the mountain breeze on his face. He then was awakened in the middle of the night by a bear. The bear was licking the fake maple syrup from his beard. Of course, not knowing if the bear knew when to quit eating, he screamed. This scared the bear, and the bear swatted him with his paw across the face and ran into the woods. The swat of the paw left three gashes along his jaw, under the beard that he’d been growing since the trip began. It was an adventure.
Isn’t it odd that when we are working or otherwise occupied, our added work or sore muscles are a source of complaints. But when the same chore or pain is experienced during an adventure, you find the strength to bear it or even to not notice at all.
“Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart; admire His bounty; invoke His aid; cast yourself in spirit at the foot of the cross; adore His goodness; give Him your whole soul a thousand times in the day.”
– St. Francis of Sales (sadly not ‘sails’ to keep with the theme)
That sounds like an adventure.
“My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness. ‘Whether it means life or death – it makes no difference!’ (see [Phil.] 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide – for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, (January 1)
Again, Oswald Chambers uses the Apostle Paul’s determination in doing the will of God in illustrating how we should start each year, each day for that matter. But can we hold up to the long haul?
When on that adventure in New Mexico, we all carried roughly the same load. I had never had much upper body strength. “Athlete” merit badge was not one that I completed, although I completed 31 merit badges (21 required for Eagle). I had never done more than one proper chin-up. After my ten-day long trek at Philmont, our bus stopped at an Air Force Base outside of Oklahoma City on the return trip. Instead of staying in the barracks, we stayed in the gymnasium on cots. One of the other guys jumped down from the chin-up bar and challenged me. He said that I would be surprised. I thought to myself, ‘okay, after this adventure, maybe two chin-ups for the first time in my life.’ The other guys shouted out the numbers. I didn’t even pay attention until I heard “seven, eight, nine.” I stopped at 16, one for each year of my life at the time.
Phillips Brooks wrote, “The truest help we can render an afflicted man is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy that he may be able to bear the burden himself.”
I learned that lesson during the summer of 1968 at a Boy Scout ranch in New Mexico with a sixty to eighty pound pack and a sewing kit. When you bear your own burden, you grow stronger.
Do you know where you are going? If you have prayed, read God’s word, and listened for His voice, you then set your will with determination to seek God’s will. Then as Tozer says, you go where the wind takes you.
You might even find out that it can be an adventure.