Last spring, about a year ago, I spent a full 30 days in training with YD Adventures. It was exciting, because I was new to all of the joys of outdoor ministry. And it was exhausting, because during those thirty days, we worked hard and slept little. We ran run after run on the Deschutes, hauling boats and paddling until our arms nearly twisted off. We learned how to set up camp and how to work the stoves. We spent hours sharing our personal testimonies, reflecting on scripture, and praising our King with worship and prayer.
Any of the first year staff will tell you, it is exhausting on all accounts – mentally, physically, and spiritually. But it was then, during those long days of training, that we all learned to lean on the Lord for strength. Had we been near a tattoo parlor during our lowest points of fatigue, I’m fairly certain we would have tattooed 2 Corinthians 12:9* onto our forearms, just to remind us that we are not always called to be strong.
I don’t think it is by any mistake that we had to endure those 30 days of blood, sweat and tears before we went out into the mission field. By the time we met the young folks and were in a position to share stories of ourselves and our faith, we had been humbled enough to realize it is not so much what we would do out there, but what the Lord would do through us and before us.
When I visited the YD Adventures base last week and met all of our new summer staff, it was like I was reliving it all over again. I delighted in their eagerness and saw how their 2 weeks of training had already created a union of brothers and sisters striving for strength together. I remembered with awe, and a twinge of jealousy, that even though that 30-day boot camp was one of the most challenging things I’d ever gone through, it was awesome and beautiful, unlike anything in life. On the other side of that mountain, we First Years had this story of how the Lord led us through the struggle, with great gain in the end — gain of character, and of hope (just like Paul speaks about in Romans 5:3**).
So as I press on in my current challenge, I have these memories etched into my heart. Memories of lows and highs. Yet, memories of perseverance and hope. Thank you, Father, for your awesome faithfulness. Help me to continue on in perseverance. I will forever put my hope in you. Amen!
*But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
**We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.