Saturday, October 17, 2015

Christian Outdoor Object Lessons 3: Back to Basics

A Backpacking Parable (based on real events)

By David F. Garner


As a boy I always enjoyed getting outdoors. I recall the first backpacking trip my dad took my older brother and I on when I was about twelve. It was to last three days. At the end of our road there was a large tract of forested land. A high ridge there had one side removed by dynamite to mine coal. The dynamite left a vertical wall on one side about 100 feet high. We creatively referred to it as the High Wall. On this occasion we set out on foot for the High Wall and surrounding wilderness for our weekend escapade.

As I packed I began thinking about all the things I had used when camping. I realized I only had some of them. ‘What if I need to cut fire wood or what if something breaks?’ I thought to myself. So I put in my hatchet and multi-tool with built in pliers and screwdrivers. Then another thought occurred to me, ‘what if I rip my clothes?’ So I put a needle and thread in the pile. I also added a role of duct tape because it is good for fixing many things.

‘Oh a pot!’ I remembered I would need that for cooking and boiling water. Going into the kitchen I got an old pot my mom didn’t use very often. On the way back I spotted my brother putting rope in his backpack. I thought to myself that I should bring some too, so I put it a large roll of rope. I worked on gathering stuff for an hour or two.

I am not sure how I fit everything I gathered into that pack. But after stuffing and cramming I fit everything in, including food and water. There was no space left. As my brother carried his pack into the living room I saw he had his machete strapped to the outside. ‘What if I need to cut branches out of the way on the trail?’ I thought. ‘I better take my machete too.’ So I tied mine onto the outside of the pack and half carried, half dragged it to the living room. There my dad had a scale so we could weight our packs.

“Sixty-eight pounds,” he said. “Wow, that’s a lot, good thing I am strong,” I said and took my pack to put in the van. What I didn’t know is that for a three-day trip, my pack should have weighted half of that.

The next morning was chilly. As I put my backpack on I noticed for the first time how heavy it was. I tried not to think about it. After praying for our trip, we set out towards our campsite destination near the High Wall.

At the end of the first day, I was ready to go home. I was sore and tired from carrying my heavy backpack. Supper that evening tasted better than any I had before. Also, we had a good view. One of the joys of backpacking is all the exercise makes meals taste so much better, especially when there is a good view of God’s creation.

On the last day, as we returned home, my dad asked me how much of my stuff I had actually used. Thinking it over, I began to realize that a lot of it stayed in my backpack the whole trip. My shovel and hatchet stayed in because my dad and brother brought theirs and we shared. I only wore half the clothes I brought because my clothes were clean enough to be warn multiple days. I only used a small amount of the sunscreen and bug spray I brought.

My dad taught me a lesson that day that is still ingrained in me today. Only carry what you need. If I had talked with my dad and brother about what they were bringing, I would have found out that we could share equipment. I would have learned what things I really needed and what things I didn’t. But instead I chose to try and figure it out on my own and ended up carrying a much bigger burden than I needed too.

It is the same in our Spiritual walk. Like Christian the character in Pilgrims Progress, we often don’t even realize what burdens we are carrying until we come to Jesus. If we let Him, if we read His Word and spend time with Him, He promises to make our burdens light. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” NLT.