Monday, June 21, 2010

Riptides and Wilderness

"God would never make it in the travel industry because He’s always leading his best clients into the wilderness. He even led His own son into the wilderness first….So there must be something good for us in it."--John Piper

I am consistently amazed at people that visit a National Park and think that they’re just visiting a bigger Disneyland. “Hey Marge, go pet that Buffalo!” Dead Men Walking, a report by the Wilderness Medical Society reports that in National Parks for the period from 1992 to 2007 there were 78,488 people involved in 65,439 SAR (Search and Rescue) incidents. These included 2,659 fatalities, 24,288 injured or sick people, and 13,212 "saves," or saved lives. The wilderness is a dangerous place.

Wilderness humbles. As a teenager I would drive thirty miles through winding canyons to get to the beach. Watching waves crash on shore solidified my faith in a God that “sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” One summer, caught in a riptide, inhaling salt water, the waves brought only terror.

I was caught up in a financial riptide once. Ten years ago my debt was overwhelming. Each month I borrowed from one creditor to pay another. I’d see land and another wave would roll in and slam me under the water. Air-gasp-wave-slam. I made it to shore gasping and heaving.

I alternate between fear and excitement. I look back in fear. I press forward in anticipation. My manager post, my current apartment, phone calls from friends, all appeared when I was certain the next wave would drown me.

There is one other thing I realized-between breaths, before dying, during the gasping and heaving. I wasn’t bored. I was fully alive.

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