After 18 years, what do I remember about our Voyageur trip? Canoeing through the storm on the first day, getting up at daybreak to enjoy the actual sunrise and the stillness of the morning, and the calls of multiple loons. I remember leisurely days on the water, seeing moose, and having our choice of campsites when we stopped about 3:30. I remember quiet beauty that surrounded us, great food, floating a section of the river in lifejackets, locating the logging trains identified on our topographical maps, surviving the rapids, and helping campers sharpen their canoeing skills. I remember sitting around campfires. I remember none of the “great” Bible studies or devotions Nick and I prepared. I do remember responding to many questions, challenges. What do I remember? It was a fun trip!
In response to my IPWG # 177 “Terror! Triumph! Thanksgiving!” I received 3 e-mails from people who had taken the Allagash trip, one of which I quoted in the 12/10/12 IPWG. Each remembered having an incredible trip. None wrote about the great spiritual content of the trip. So…did the trip fail to accomplish its primary objective?
When leading a Voyageur trip, we were doing what Jesus did for most of his 3 years of active ministry. Jesus lived with his disciples, men who began their time with Jesus knowing nothing about “Christ-like living”. With Jesus, they saw people being healed and fed. They heard Jesus pray. They were in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm. They watched Jesus tell stories to answer the questions of people seeking understanding, and they watched him respond to hostile people, and using the opportunity to explain God’s truths. They experienced Jesus answering their questions, even some questions they were thinking, but did not ask. The disciples learned the living of love and forgiveness. Jesus’ ministry was almost totally in response to what was happening around Him.
And our campers observed our lives, just like the disciples observed Jesus’ life. We did not heal people, but hopefully we lived our lives as Jesus lived His – responding to what was happening around us. Jesus prayed. We prayed. Jesus was sinless – no mistakes! There is no doubt in my mind that our voyageurs saw us make people judgments, say unloving things. Our campers also heard us admit mistakes, ask for their forgiveness. Jesus was God. We were living In Partnership With God.
As we responded to our situations, the Holy Spirit often brought to our minds what we had heard, previously thought through. This has been my experience throughout my life. Therefore is it unrealistic to believe that this same Holy Spirit can bring to the minds of our Voyageurs in future years what they experienced, observed, and heard on our trip together?
Recently I received two e-mails from Dr. David Howard, professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary.
The first was a copy of the five page letter he wrote to his nephew when the nephew was about to enter the Guide program. The second was a follow-up on the first.
“One of the sentences I wrote to Joel was this one, speaking about my counselors’ faithfulness in devotions, They didn’t hit home runs every night with their devotionals, for example, but they were faithful and we knew they really loved the Lord.”
That imagery comes from you, actually. In the mid-1980’s, our family was driving east to New England and we stopped for a night at DL; we stayed in one of the cabins above the basketball court. Our only child at that time was 3 or 4, as I recall. In conversation with you, Jan and I were talking about building a proper atmosphere at home, including good family devotions. You made the comment about not hitting a home run every night, but about the importance of faithfulness. It was very freeing for us, and affirming, and we refer to it often. So, thanks for that, too!
God uses our words – words we do not remember saying. He also uses our lives – in ways we cannot imagine.