Wild Trek

For many years now I have had this mental image from a favorite childhood book.  I would think of it at odd times while lying in my dorm room, or in my first apartment, or in all the apartments that came after.  It was an adventure novel of two men, braving the wilderness and struggling to survive against daunting odds.  It was the type of rough-hewn, straight-talking, no-holds-barred kind of wilderness adventure that – to the extent possible for young readers – lacked any hint of sentimentality.  Here were two men calling upon every shred of human ingenuity to survive against savage beasts, fierce elements, and harrowing terrain.

And then it happened.

One man was left waiting in a cave while his companion scouted ahead.  Despite all the hardships he had already endured, this man suddenly realizes that loneliness is the worst.  He manages to trap a snowshoe hare for food, but instead of killing the rabbit, this survival-toughened mountain man builds a small cage and gathers blades of grass.  This is the image that has travelled with me: even more than food, companionship is the greatest human need.

I recently endeavored to find this story.  I was pretty sure who the author was, and although I couldn’t remember exactly which book, I thought I would know it when I saw it.  I pulled all of Jim Kjelgaard’s books from my shelf – I even reread a couple – but the one I was looking for was not there.  I went to the library to expand my search, and as soon as I cracked the cover, I knew I had found it.  A couple hundred pages later, I was reading the words that had left such a powerful image all those years before.

“It seemed that anything was bearable as long as somebody or something was present to offer companionship.  No man was really sufficient unto himself; this loneliness was far worse than the hunger that gnawed at his belly.  Antray pulled his belt in, but he could not alleviate the gnawing in his mind as easily… Night came and he looked again at the rabbit.  He was hungry, hungrier than he had ever been before, it seemed, but he wasn’t lonely.  He’d save the rabbit…” Jim Kjelgaard, Wild Trek1

The Bible tells us that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  This passage undergirds numerous spiritual lessons, from an understanding of the Trinity to the strength of marriage vows bound between husband, wife, and God.  But here’s a more general underpinning: It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

God has sent each one of us on a rough-hewn, straight-talking, no-holds barred wilderness adventure.  But He never intends for us to travel alone.  The truth of this statement is what burned this story’s image so indelibly into my heart.  Haven’t you, too, experienced the power of companionship?  Haven’t you yearned for it, been blessed by it, shared it?

Thank God for the blessing of companionship.  Then look around you, and seek out opportunities to spread this blessing to others.

“But if we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching?  Why aren’t His hands healing?   Why aren’t His words teaching? And if we are the body, why aren’t His feet going?  Why is His love not showing them there is a way?”  ~Casting Crowns “If We are the Body”

 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:36)

 

1Kjelgaard, J. (1950.) Wild Trek. New York: Bantam Books

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Some Doubted

I was reading the other day from Matthew 28, after Jesus’ resurrection:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17).

Some doubted.

I love how bluntly that is stated. One might think that having been an eye witness to Jesus’ resurrection would be enough to dispel doubt. Here are Jesus’ closest friends. They travelled with Him for three years. They witnessed His miracles. They performed miracles themselves under His direction. At the end, they saw Him captured and put to death; some of them saw where His body was laid in the tomb. And now they were physically in the presence of His living, post-resurrection being. They could see him. But some still doubted.

Even in the very presence of the newly resurrected Jesus, some doubted. If that is true for some of Jesus’ closest friends, then how do we stand against doubt?

We might think, God if you could just…. then that would be enough. But I see Jesus shaking His head the same way I see Him shaking his head at Philip who said, “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Evidence can support faith, but it cannot eliminate doubt. And that, my friends, is where this gets interesting. Read carefully:

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:7).

If I knew Greek I’d do a word study on this line, but even across several English translations the same picture emerges: The eleven disciples climbed the hill. They saw Jesus, and they worshiped Him.

It doesn’t say that some of them worshiped and some of them doubted. It says “they worshiped him.” Only then does it add that some doubted.

Doubt did not preclude worship.

Think about that. We can worship, even when we doubt.

The passage continues with Jesus coming and speaking to them. Not to “some of them.” Not to the ones who did not doubt, but to “them.” Inclusive.

“Go and make disciples of all nations,” He instructed them.

All of them. Even those who doubted.

Satan would love for us to think that doubt is a stumbling block. He wants doubt to reduce our worship, sever our Christian relationships, and prevent us from telling others about God. But I do not see doubt as a stumbling block when I read God’s word. Instead, I see Jesus, coming to me, His follower who doubts. And He is saying: Come, worship me. Then go, tell others about me.

This is what I find so amazing about these simple lines:

Yes, some doubted.

So what?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-19).