Bill and I watched an episode of Man vs Wild last night. A guy by the name of Bear Grylls got lost with his camera crew in the Red Rock country of Utah. The scenery was spectacular. Bear gave us an up-close and personal 60-minute survival course on how to overcome the obstacles of being lost for several days in the remote area of the Mohave Plateau. Bear instructed us as his survival expert audience. His purpose for this extreme classroom experience was to equip us so we could survive in these extreme conditions for days as we meandered our way back to civilization. This episode included biting a live Garter snake in two and using it’s guts for fishing bait. Extreme, yes, but that’s what life is all about in the wild.
Most people hate getting lost. Unexpected delays, remote detours or wrong turns down one-way streets can escalate rapidly into emotionally charged situations. I can vividly recall stories of getting my head ‘bitten off’ for merely suggesting what direction we should go. Few of us want to back-track fifty miles of interstate because we missed the turn. Married couples have fought about which direction to take since we emerged from caves, so this is nothing new. Have you ever stopped to think about why we wig-out when we get lost? It may have something to do with our vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the state of being open to injury. Being vulnerable makes us susceptible to being wounded and leaves us open for attack, criticism and temptation. So, how we deal with our own vulnerability depends on how we are equipped to deal with situations that emerge in real life not just extreme conditions. Life is unpredictable. We cannot control anyone or anything. As followers of Jesus, the only control we are authorized to develop is self-control. So, developing a sense of peace and calm in the middle of a tense situation or extreme conditions takes practice. In order to get to the expert level—we need to put ourselves into harms way so we can practice what we learn and be tested.
Abraham and Sarah
Two characters in the Old Testament carry as much clout as Abraham and Sarah. The stamina of these two old people is truly inspiring to me. I can only imagine how these two fought with each other daily about the obstacles they faced. God is too loving and compassionate to give a blow by blow account of the behind the scenes look at their travels. I could only imagine the reality show of what life was like with these two biblical heavy weights on the road. I can totally relate to them. As someone who’s been married for almost nineteen years, I know how selfish I am. I know how controlling I can be and how much I try to avoid being vulnerable. I love having my way or discovering the winning answer. Sometimes I want to put my ideas on a banner and run down the middle of the road claiming to the world I had one good idea. I am tempted with the notion that just once I could shout, “I told you so!” I believe I could sit and drink iced tea with Sarah. We could talk. We could laugh. Sarah is known for her laughter.
Imagine how getting lost can actually build our faith in God. It helps us practice the art of being vulnerable. We can become open to outcomes we could not imagine without God. Faith in God helps establish where exactly our help comes from and how living out faithful obedience can be the most exhilarating way to live life in the extreme conditions we face daily. Eugene Peterson writes about faith in this way: The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. (Hebrews 11:1-2 The Message) Abraham and Sarah are certainly distinguished. They are credited with righteousness because they trusted God and headed out in a general direction. They were open to outcome. Eventually, God made a covenant with Abraham that continues to effect us to this day.
Get lost and get off the beaten path is the third Summer Survival Guide practice we will talk about Sunday. The story of Abraham and Sarah might also inspire us to soften our hearts toward those who are lost and don’t know it. The job description Luke identified for the Jesus comes to mind: For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10 NIV) So, go ahead and get lost. Try something new. Be open to an outcome only God could imagine. You might be amazed what happens along the way. See you Sunday.