#32 – Life in the Backcountry

Finally! My computer crashed twice over the last month, and between reformatting, reinstalling, and re-hating-computers, I finally entered in all of your e-mail addresses and even added a few more people. Good news for those who don’t like these e-mails, especially to the new people I added without permission. Now is a great time to remove your name or tell me about someone else who should get these e-mails. All that mess aside, I want to fill you in on the highlights of the past few weeks. Our Bible study is wonderful. Not only do they make me laugh so hard when they tell stories, but they hardly act like freshmen anymore. Spring Break brought me to the Ozarks with Kevin and Doug for 5 unforgettable days of hiking (more on that soon). The triathlon is coming up, and about the same time my computer crashed, so did my training. If the swimming is anything like tonight, then I’m going to drown. This summer God has graciously allowed me to serve Him as a missionary in East Asia for ten weeks. If you would like more information about it or would like to support me, I’d be glad to send you more information. One last thing before we jump to the next paragraph… I’m about to finish up a website that will have an archive of all the old e-mails along with a photo album, other writings, and whatever else I come up with. Anyway, when I finish setting it all up, I will let you know.

Every simple thing is better in the backcountry. Take eating. A dinner centered around Spam in a Bottle might cause some to cry, but three famished backpackers would double over in glee. Thankfully, Kevin is a world class chef. So instead, we ate like kings, who only boiled water and occasionally stirred. Still, if we pulled out some Spam for our evening meal, I know that it would have been quite tasty. This held true for drinking, sleeping, the infrequent brushing of the teeth, and everything else except for one thing, cleaning dishes. Not even the backcountry can cure dishwashing. Reading this you might think every step was like walking through a National Geographic magazine. How far from true, most of the time my eyes watched for rocks and fallen trees, and the rest I looked at Kevin or Doug’s backpack. Along the entire 45 miles of trail we hiked, we only found about 5 truly breathtaking views. The pictures can hardly capture the majesty of the Ozarks, but we also hiked the most scenic sections of the 165 mile trail. My point is that our trip was not memorable because of scenery. It was the journey.

Life is that way. The daily grind of life as 21st century American is far from awe-inspiring in and of itself. We must have something outside ourselves to even have a hope at giving life some meaning. Ascending our personal mountains will eventually fatigue us to exhaustion if our whole purpose is the top. Soon even the mountain tops will lose their mystique. Few are the men who can walk through the mundane, ordinary parts of life while keeping his perspective fixed on the Eternal journey. Only with a heart and mind fighting to remain aware of the ever presence of his Maker, can a man even attempt to live in such a way. Even fewer is she who has no concern where the Lord leads her, but simply has faith that wherever the need He will never leave her side. This is her greatest delight. If her journey leads to the highest of all the mountains, praise God for the abundance, but if she crosses miles of forest so thick that even the evergreens grow brown, praise God for He alone sustains. These faithful pilgrims, strangers, and aliens, scattered across the world, live in the present with ‘a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for us’. Journey long.



Music: It’s gotta be Hootie and the Blowfish, even at the risk of your teasing. Although I honestly don’t understand how you can make such a good first CD, and fail to record another good song, let alone album. Anyway, we listened to Hootie to and from Arkansas, and it was wonderful traveling music.

Book: Anything by Cornelius Van Til or his former student Greg Bahnsen, especially The Defense of the Faith by Van Til.

Sports: Come on, it’s the beginning of the baseball season, and I’m still rooting for my Cubbies. It’s no coincidence my birthday falls near the beginning of Opening Day. I am so glad that baseball has returned. (Did the Baylor ladies really win the Tourney??)

Moment: In a month full of great memories, I must tell one more backpacking story. On Sunday morning, we had to make our only trail change of the trip, but because the sign seemed to be missing we weren’t sure which way to go. As our uncertainty about where to go peaked, a stray dog seemed to be telling us to follow him down a trail we had not seen. Ok, well he just wouldn’t stop barking until he got our attention. White Rock, as we would later call him, proved to be quite the navigator. For the next 35 miles, White Rock led us along the Ozark Highlands Trail before we had to say goodbye.