My son Jason left last weekend for a Boy Scout high adventure trip to the Rocky Mountains. The hiking and camping trip begins in Colorado at about 6000 feet elevation, but will include trails that top out between 10,000 and 12,000 feet above sea level, which will be well above the lawn and where the snow rarely melts! For the last couple weeks before their departure, he went on and on about the fun he and his buddies will have throwing snowballs at each other in June. (Personally speaking, I think a day or two of cold weather would be a fairly nice change from the blistering hot temperatures we’re currently enduring here in the deep southeastern United States!)
Before the group headed out for their trek, the trip leaders required the boys to attend a meeting the night before departure with their gear ready for a ‘shakedown’ inspection to insure that they had the proper equipment needed for their 11 day excursion into the mountain wilderness, and that they didn’t forget something important like, say, a sleeping bag. (Read about Jason’s long, cold, bagless campout here).
Well, that’s where we ran into a little conflict. Jason insisted for many days that his gear was completely ready. Though he had all the big essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, mess kit, and backpack, the shakedown revealed he was fairly light on essential clothing. For example, he only had one pair of thin nylon pants with zip off legs, 2 short sleeve water-wicking t-shirts, and one fleece jacket. Hardly, the gear necessary for the winter-like temperatures and high winds they are certain to encounter at higher elevations.
Even though it’s hard to think about thermal underwear, gloves and toboggans when it’s 95 degrees outside where we live, Clif tried repeatedly to explain to him how cold it could possibly get where they were going. But the more he suggested things Jason should add to his bag for his own protection from the harsh conditions, the more resistant he became. The defiant exchange ended with Jason declaring “My friends are not taking those things and neither am I! We’ll just be miserable together!”
You know, I can’t help but wonder how many times God warns us about the harsh conditions that He knows are ahead for us, pleading with us through His Word and the Spirit to adequately and wisely prepare ourselves. But again and again we defiantly resist and turn our backs on Him, insisting (through our words and actions) that certain misery with our friends would be better than His intrusion into our well-packed plans.
What if instead of seeing God as a cosmic kill-joy, requiring things of us that we see as encumbering and unnecessary, we were able to look behind the verses of scripture that at first glance seem so limiting, and recognize them for what they really are… the wise counsel of loving Father who only has our safety, protection and best interest at heart.
Thankfully, in the case of Jason, he finally put aside his objections and was able to listen to his dad’s advice and choose to take along a few extras to keep him from getting cold. Hopefully, he’ll have a grand time seeing some amazing sites. And, just maybe, should the temperatures plummet, he’ll stay warm and maybe from his surplus, (as the Boy Scout Motto says) “Be Prepared” to offer one of his friends some protection from the severe conditions.
And, you know, if we are willing to heed wisdom of our Heavenly Father and ‘pack’ well, maybe we will also ‘be prepared’ do the same for our fellow travelers too.