This past week I set out to be in creation, but not on a hike; on a float. So will you journey with me on my adventure?
First I want to read a verse & ask a question.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;6 and to knowledge, self‑control; and to self‑control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How can you learn to live & learn with Christian character?
I’d argue that you learn how to do it when things don’t go your way. When you don’t get the toy you want. When you don’t get the cell phone you want. When the friend you want to hang out with rejects you. When you don’t do well in school. When the ball bounces wrongly off the ball wall. When you get sick on your birthday. When you have homework on a night when you really just want to play. When you have to do something you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it. When you would rather be selfish than love others.
It’s those times in which we learn to live & learn with Christian character! When things don’t go your way.
Saturday morning I got all my stuff together and set out on 2 rafts with 19 other people, 9 with me on one, 10 on the other.
I had my water bottle
I had my students’ paperwork, wrapped in two ziplocks so it wouldn’t get wet
I had my lunch, also all ziplocked up
I had my keys so I could back get in my car, all ziplocked
I had money in case anything happened where I would need money
I had my phone also double ziplocked
I had my father-in-law’s waterproof camera ready to show off and play with to take a ton of pix of students –
It is this really cool camera that can go 30 feet underwater. Right as we were about to take off into the water I dropped it into the water pretending that I had “broken” it; but I tricked them saying afterwards that it was waterproof. I got some great reactions! I asked him to use it a few weeks before so that I could have some fun with it. It was a new toy he just got 2 months ago. And quite the privilege.
As you know, doing things with a lot of people is fun, but can be challenging. People have certain ideas where to go and when there’s ten of you on a boat, many different people have ideas as to which is the correct way to go somewhere.
We were following the other boat and were somewhat competing to stay with them, though some people (I’d argue the smarter ones) just wanted to relax. As a result our team ran aground on a big pile of rocks in the middle of the river. Everyone had to get out and push the raft back toward the current. Since I was the adult, I made sure I was last on board & as the current really took the boat further down the river I dove in to the boat and climbed up to my seat.
Now, you need to know something about me. I like using pockets. I love stuffing things in my pockets, and each pocket holds certain items. I really like cargo pants. My bluetooth lies in the front left, my phone the top left (& headphones if I have them), my keys top right, paperwork front right and/or back right, my wallet back left. I’ve washed at least 3 bluetooth devices, 4 usb sticks, 3 pairs of headphones, tens of dollars and much more. I love pockets.
With the water confusion everything was all out of whack. I had no wallet, so I felt weird with nothing in my back pocket, had no bulky keys but were instead with my money and paperwork in a numerous ziplocks within ziplocks in my right front pocket, but that one got really wet so I switched the side of pockets because while I was fine with the camera getting wet. I was really concerned with my phone, the paperwork, etc. I didn’t want that stuff to get too wet. Whoops.
See, in all my concern about those things getting wet, I realized as I switched pockets that I was missing something that was in my open, non-velcrow side pockets that was just there minutes ago before the current took us 1/2 mile down the river. The camera. I calmly checked under my seat inside the boat, double-checking my pockets and even reaching under other people’s legs without telling them what I thought I lost. I whispered to people next to me to look for the camera b/c I thought it dropped and soon had our entire boat looking for it.
After giving up looking inside the boat, I called my wife (I still had my cell phone). I needed to know if I was crazy to go back and look for it. There were a lot of factors involved in this. See, my father-in-law just gave me his old camera that new was about $6-700 (I know b/c I really wanted one and I priced it out). This one was the replacement, so I figured it was close to $1000. It had to be. He loves cameras. I mean, he LOVES cameras!
After collectively looking & deciding I wanted to go back and search in the water, I had them wave the other boat over b/c I thought I officially lost the camera. The problem was that we were already 1/2 mile + down the river so if I were to go back, it wouldn’t just take a lot of time but I would not be able to spend time with my students for the day.
So I got out of the boat, handed the emergency cards, money and details to another adult and began a hike by myself for the remainder of the trip. It was 11am and we began at 10am. The trip was to last until at least 3pm, maybe later & I was bowing out. My thought was that if I could find it, I could catch up to them by driving to a place further along the river while they had lunch and then they could drive me to my car after the day was done. Such was my plan. My hope.
So I began to walk back with that hope that maybe, just maybe, I could find the camera. So I called my wife back while hiking and then kept on praying. I mean, God was my only chance. I knew it. But I knew also that the possibility of finding that $1000 camera was a bit impossible. I kept saying, please, Jesus, please. I told God that whether I found it or I didn’t I would trust Him. I wanted to trust Him and by saying such I figured it’d be true. My saying that was just as much for me as for God.
I got to the place where we had gotten out of the boat when we ran aground. The problem was that between the river bank and the rock bar where I needed to go was very strong current. Very strong. I began to walk against the current standing on slippery rocks only to realize I was risking losing my phone as well as the camera. So I put my possessions on the river bank where they wouldn’t get wet and I began to trek across. After I got there I looked down. And looked. People passed me, lots of people. One person called out, “It’s Jesus!,” thinking I was the Savior walking on water. Others just laughed at me or stared. One out of like 20+ boats asked if I lost something & no one offered to help. It certainly wasn’t that I was expecting help, just an interesting note. I can’t pinpoint the moment, but I remember the feeling of my hope slipping away. It was like someone hanging onto a cliff with the tips of their fingers only to slowly realize they were going to fall off the cliff. I lost my hope. I conceded to losing the camera & I was sick.
I was disturbed by my lack of responsibility. I was heartbroken, bank-broken in my mind, pride-stabbed, embarrassed, humiliated, numb, beside myself. I recalled saying I’d trust God whether I kept the camera or lost it. I now lost it. And I felt like I didn’t just lose the camera, I lost a part of myself. It was as if I was idolizing something for someone else. I remember just regurgitating my emotions to my wife but there was nothing she could say to find the camera. She reminded me it was just a camera, but I kept responding that it wasn’t just a camera. This was like the man’s baby. She knew it and I knew it. It was all about the camera. We realized that we had a bit of cash earmarked for something else that we could use, which was a huge praise. It wasn’t our plan, but it was a proviso from the Lord. That eased my pain a bit and I was able to at least be able to cover for my error. All the while walking now back to the car, dozens of animals passed me by. Lizards, squirrels, birds, egrets and more surrounded me. It was beautiful. But knowing I could replace the camera was the real peace I had. I didn’t pay attention to the creation but the camera.
So now I made plans to get back to my group dejected, but somewhat relieved and fairly peace-filled despite my stupidity. My news continued to improve as I searched online while I hiked, finding out that the camera wasn’t $1000 but between $300-400. I called Sherry back with a hip in my hop and an excitement to finish the trip with my students.
A parent volunteer called and they had just stopped for lunch & that was 12:15. I googled directions to their location at Effie Yauw Nature Center and saw it was only 3 miles away! I’d not only be back within 15 minutes, but only gone 90 total and not cause them to lose any ground.
I drove to the mapped out location and parked in a weird spot at about 12:30. I called as I walked towards the river, but I thought the “Nature Center” looked an awful lot like someone’s house. It was. I drove around in circles for 15 minutes in a neighborhood and eventually called the Nature Center which was another 10 minutes away. After arriving at the National Park I was asked to pay $5. I told the guy that my money was at the river (remember how I gave everything to someone else). He looked at me quizzically but let me go. Another blessing. So then I was finally parked. I was told there were a number of trails and needed to get to the River Trail, marker number 7. I asked a family who was hiking along slowly where that trail was and they gave me a map and pointed me to talk with the ranger. She was less than help. She complained about how people ruined all the trails and I took off practically mid-sentence so I didn’t have to hear her railing.
So thus began yet another adventure in my adventure.
What I thought would be a 2 minute walk until my reunion turned in to what felt like another hour. I followed one trail to another to another and another. I looked to the sun trying to figure where I was and where the river would have been. I listened for noises (I knew our group wouldn’t be quiet). I had nothing. What was worse, I found myself off all trails back into what looked like another development! I couldn’t tell if it was frustration or humor that I was filled with. I had this image of being all by myself in a reality tv show like Amazing Race in the midst of a desert rockland. It was awesome! I had a goal not to make my team wait, yet I wanted to enjoy what was before me. Being lost out there became a joy! It was bizarre. Humorous. Adventurous. And yet fun!
In the distance I heard voices and knew where to go. It was then that I almost ran into a baby deer. I couldn’t believe how close I was! Getting closer to the water and actually being able to see the destination, I saw two more deer. Lizards were all over the place and other animals surrounded me. Just me. All alone out there. It was awesome!
I got back and said that the last two hours I had were amazing. They really were. The day before someone counseled me that one of the things I need to learn is that what is big to you may not be what God wants you to focus on. See, it wasn’t about the camera. My father-in-law didn’t mind that I lost it. He was amazingly gracious. His response? Maybe there’s a new model out! It wasn’t about the time with my students, time I thought I was failing them with. It wasn’t about the water. It wasn’t about the hike. It wasn’t about the trip itself. It was about something more. Maybe it was about my time alone with God. Me just getting away from everything and letting God show me what seemed to be equal to the tip of a hair of Himself. Yet it wasn’t about me. It was about God. God showing me He is in control. He is sovereign. He is the author and leader of trips and events, including my life.
Going back to the passage, He taught me he wants goodness – to others and in my own actions in the midst of hard times. Faith whether you find the metaphorical camera or not. Whether you find what you thought you needed or not. The knowledge of how to act and reminder that God truly is in control. Self-control to not lose my focus, whether I throw a tantrum with my body or even in my mind. Perseverance to not give up hope in what will work out or why God might allow or invite me to lose the camera or get lost and late to my group. Godliness in my perspective and actions. Brotherly kindness in my response to when I initially thought the camera was lost. And love through it all. It’s these things that keep me from being ineffective and unproductive in my knowledge [and action] in the Lord Jesus. Some of these things I look back at really encouraged that I passed the test; others not so much.
I was told by this same counselor that I have a hard time seeing the forest from the trees. I felt like losing the camera and the search for it was like me banging my head on a tree and now as I look back I don’t just see the forest but the entire county! There’s so much to learn from experiences like that. So much more than if things had gone as planned! I thank God for this experience! I’m sure there’ll be even more to learn from it as time goes on. And there’ll be other experiences like this one. For better or for worse. But I guess as I write this, definitely for better. To God be the glory.
Big ideas & Other notes.:
Detours, forgetting things.
And what you forget might not be what God wants you to find.
God is Sovereign.
If I lost anything else . . . Keys, license, credit card, . . . That would have been even worse!
I wonder what the journey is about? I mean, the purpose of life is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). We are to grow in many characteristics of his glory (2 Pe. 1:5-8). And we are to recognize God’s great love & will for us (Rom. 5:8; 12:2). But this particular journey? I think it was about shaping all of that somehow. I mean, I don’t know why I lost the camera. I don’t know why I went on that detour. But I know it was for a reason. I trust it was. I do believe. Whether I have what I want or what I don’t. God knows what I need.