On Tuesday August 1 the students from Concord embarked on a thirty-nine hour mystery trip. The very nature of a mystery trip is the kind of adventure where you commit to go but have no idea what you are doing. People generally expect a tame experience, but it wasn’t meant to be on this trip. On Tuesday we went rock-climbing in the middle of ninety-seven degree heat; established camp on a primitive campsite (meaning no bathrooms or running water); fashioned tents using only tarps, rope and metal stakes; challenged the students to cook their own mac & cheese, baked beans and hot dogs; endured two hours of rain (including wind and lightening) and slept with wet gear on wet sleeping bags. And that was just the first day! After getting about 2 1/2 hours of sleep, we got up, drove 2 hours to the Hiwasee River and learned to kayak down Class I to III rapids. Sounds fun, huh? What was learned?

  • “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Heb 10:24). One of the amazing aspects of the trip was watching both student and chaperone alike encourage and spur one another one as we faced many difficult tasks. It wasn’t unusual to see a team member encouraged someone dangling on the rocks not to give up. As a matter of fact, it was unusual when you didn’t see or hear team members prodding one another on. I was reminded of this verse from Hebrews because what I observed on the rocks and the river was a picture of what life is supposed to be like in a biblical Christian community. As individuals struggled with the challenges on the trip, at almost every turn there was a person considering how to encourage them so that they didn’t give up. Is this not what we are being told here in Hebrews, except that we aren’t encouraging each other not to give up on Jesus in the context, but rather considering how to encourage one another to love people and God better and demonstrate our faith in our actions? Earlier in Hebrews (3:13) we are commanded to urgently encourage each other every day so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. I hope that the lessons learned on the river and rocks stick with others in the way that they are sticking with me almost a week later.
  • “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:28-29). By the 3rd climb up the rocks on Tuesday I was physically exhausted. I had no strength left in my hands. I went first on the climb, which was a difficult climb to get started. I fell early and often and stepped aside to let some of the other climbers go ahead while I rested. When my turn came around again I struggled mightily to ascend the rock face. About 1/2 way I was spent. My hands were quivering and I was ready to come down. Of course, there at the base of the rock were many encouraging faces and voices urging me on. As I was up there toiling to get up the rock, I was reminded of the fact that the harness and rope were supporting and aiding my ascent. They provided much need strength and support although if I was to get to the top of the climb it would still require my effort. The guy at the bottom wasn’t just going to pull me to the top. This was the verse that came to mind. We’ve been charged with a task to proclaim Jesus, to warn people of sin, and instruct people’s hearts with wisdom. The goal: to present everyone who will listen mature in Jesus. This is our labor. It’s our calling. But it is a struggle. Like the climb up the rock, it will require energy, time and effort to fulfill our calling. We will get tired. We will want to quit. And yet, as we struggle, we need to be reminded that in our effort it is Jesus’ energy at work within us. Not only is it at work, but He is at work powerfully within His children. I find this comforting in the way that I was comforted knowing if I slipped ascending that rock, not only was I not going to plummet to my death, but I wasn’t going to lose much ground on the rock face either. Jesus is calling us to toil in this world, but He doesn’t call us to labor without promising to give us the strength to finish the job. By the way, I made it to the top.

I am sure that others who took the trip will read this post. If you went, I’d love to hear what you learned or were encouraged by.

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