I love the month of May. Not because of my birthday :o) but because I love the spring greens and wildflowers and birdsongs.
And because of the memories of “Discovery.”
“Discovery” is the name of the wilderness learning course for college students that Jake led every spring before we moved overseas. That program has challenged, instructed, and changed students almost every May since 1976.
Until this May . . .
It was one of the many cancellations these days.
But who needs engineered experiential education when we have this COVID ‘wilderness’ all around us?
It was May, 1974 when I went on my first wilderness learning course.
I had married outdoor education leader Jake Wetzel two months before and I did the trip so I could better understand what it was that Jake did.
I learned many unforgettable things on that trip, but today I am surprised, ‘discovering’ something new. . .
I have written in a story before how the outdoor challenges were very hard for me. I had many fears.
Backpacking, walking all day . . . could I do this?
Canoeing a whitewater river . . . could I do this?
Rappelling down a 100’ cliff . . . I knew I couldn’t do that!
One cold, drizzly night we slogged down a muddy trail for hours after sundown, to the shore of Lake Superior. When we finally camped, our leader told us that the next day we would begin a 3-day solo. Could I do 3 days alone in the woods?
Then on the last day of the course, our leader presented us with the challenge of a 7-mile marathon. I was eager… can I do it?
And you know what? I did it ALL.
I completed that course successfully –and this is my new discovery: my success was more about the leader than about me.
On the first day of the course, as required, I gave my wristwatch to my leader, symbolic of surrendering my time and control to his plan for those days.
And he definitely had a plan.
There was a good purpose for each element, for each teachable moment on that trip.
My leader made sure I had what I needed – the proper clothes, gear, food, and support, including teaching me the necessary skills, like ropes and paddling.
He saw when I was afraid at the riverside and he encouraged me.
He refused to let me quit at the cliff; he knew I would be pumped with joy having done it.
He checked on me every day of my solo.
And he cheered me on my run.
My leader proved he was good, he was trustworthy, and he was for me.
And that is why I finished well.
Today I am comforted, thinking about Jesus as my good and trustworthy Leader through this COVID wilderness.
Through life’s wilderness, actually.
Jesus has a plan and a purpose. He equips me. He sees me. He won’t let me quit. He cheers me on. He is for me.
No matter what happens, as long as I keep giving Him my wristwatch, I can be sure that He will make sure that I finish this life well.