4/25 – Clouds met us the morning of day three. Breakfast consisted of two packs of instant oatmeal that someone graciously gave me and a stick of cheese – Breakfast of Champions! We met around the campfire around 9 am for the morning brief. Chris’s lesson was on Fear and Worrying. Big fears usually start out as small worries. He started with a quote from Arthur Somers Roche –
“Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
The two most common things that we pray for are provisions and protection. Jesus speaks of both of these things in the Matthew 6:24.
Fear -> unbelief -> unwillingness -> unhappiness
Recall the rich young ruler, he was accustomed to being completely in charge of his life and was unwilling to let it go. Why?
Next, Chris compared two different rulers from the Old Testament.
- Pharaoh in the story of Joseph – When Joseph comes on the scene, the Pharaoh had a descent relationship with the Hebrew people. After a generation had passed, the new Pharaoh didn’t have the understanding with the Hebrew people like the previous one. As a matter of fact the new one was afraid of the Hebrew population under his control. He feared their number, so he issued a decree for all of the midwives to kill all male babies. The midwives didn’t do it, so he issued another decree to kill all first born males. (Remember Moses in the basket floating down the river). Pharaoh struggled with fear and it drove him to make desperate, evil decisions.
- David – While a Shepard boy, a lion attached his flock and seized one of his sheep. David didn’t write that sheep off – he chased the lion down killed it and got the sheep back. A time later a bear stole one of his sheep and he chased the bear down, and again layed the smack down to get his sheep back. David had fear – it’s a natural emotion, but he was not slave to his fear. David attacked his little fears before they grew into big, debilitating fears. He layed them out to God. This prepared him for his big fight with Goliath. Each time he overcame one of his little fears (I’m glad fighting lions aren’t my “little” fears), he grew stronger and more sure of himself. He had already faced a lion and a bear and beat them both with his bare hands – He knew God was going to be with him as he fought Goliath.
One leader was consumed by fear and thought killing everyone was a good method to rule over people, one experienced fear, but attacked the fear when it was small by lifting it up to God – keeping it from corrupting his thoughts and actions.
Thought for the day: Think of some of the challenges in your life. What actions do we need to work on? Remember to attack the smaller fears. Faith is a practice and a habit that must be exercised daily.
Instead of sending us on our way, we were next invited to experience an hour of solitude. Bruce encouraged us to go off and find a place where you can’t see anyone else and just be with God. I loved this part of the hike last year and this year was no different. I walked up a spring fed creek for about a quarter mile and then walked straight up a steep slope to a patch of small trees. It took me about fifteen minutes to clear my mind. I find solitude difficult at first. My mind almost fights it by running a bazillion thoughts through it. Eventually my mind unwinds. I spent the rest of the time journaling and just lying on my back watching the thick, heavy rain clouds race through the newly greened tree limbs. It was refreshing. I hope I can continue to find time to disconnect and be in solitude with God – I have many distractions in my life and feel that I pay more attention to them than maintaining a silent dialog with God.
We all came back together after an hour, packed up our gear and went on our way to the next camp site. We hiked through Garenflo gap, up long mountain, and then descended to the campsite at Deer Park Mountain. The camp area extended down a gorge. Some of the guys camped on the upper side. Half of us made camp at the bottom of the gorge along Blood Creek. It started to rain, so we hung our tarps, rainflys, rain ponchos, and garbage bags together to make our own shanty town. We packed four tents under the cover and waited for the rain to stop. Everyone had a few extra meals left, so we cooked and ate a lot of food (I think Tony ate five pasta meals that evening).
The campfire debrief was great. We all talked about the little fears that eat at us. The conversation went on for almost two hours.
4/26 – We had to rise and shine at 6am. Its amazing how you learn to run with the sun when you live in the wild. We ate (more instant oatmeal) and packed up our gear. Bruce lead the final day briefing around the theme – God is Awful. Bruce started discussing the fear of the dark which combines and mirrors many fears. Fear of the darkness leads to the sin of timidity – timidity keeps us from being obedient to God. He next described Luke 12:4 making the point that we are very valuable to God, and then quickly went through other verses discussing fear – James 24:14, Psalm 34:9, Proverbs 9:10, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Acts 10:34, 1 Peter 1:17. What is this fear that the verses are speaking too? Fear does not equal wrath. Fearing God is to know that he is awful – inspiring full awe. Difference between awesome and awful – Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong are awesome – specific aspects of them inspire great awe. God illicits full awe – He is awful! To correct Mr. Mullins “Our God is an Awful God”. To live in fear of God as the scripture suggests is to live in total awe of God. When we are in full awe of God – nothing is too bad – God is bigger than “that”. The fruit of living in God is boldness. If we live in fear of God, there is nothing else we should fear. It actually liberates us. We are free to fail when we live in fear of God. To live in full-awe of God, you are not afraid of people – you can love them. To live in full-awe of God, you are not afraid of money – you can give and give freely. To live in full-awe of God, you are not constantly protecting your turf. Trade fear for Love, control for rest, timidity for boldness. We need to learn to recognize the love God has for us (1 John 15). There is no fear in Love. God’s response to our brokenness is “I love you”. Most of us mentioned the fear of losing our kids or spouse over the weekend. God loves my children and spouse far more than I can ever love them, therefore I can trust him with them. I don’t need to drag this fear of death or loss around with me. We need to encourage one another and carry each others burdens. We closed by offering words of appreciation and encouragement to each other. Beautiful message!
Now it was time to hike out to Hot Springs, NC. The last hike is in complete solitude. Each of us took off with a 10 minute interval in-between. This was great. I had a two hour conversation with God – Just telling him what’s on my heart. People kept popping into my head, so I held all of them up in prayer one at a time. It was powerful! The peace finally broke as we descended into Hot Spring and heard the sound of car brakes, the hammering of a construction site, and rumble of motorcycle engines. It was a little depressing. I kinda wanted to turn around and go back, but life awaited. We bathed at the Hot Spring Resort (very liberal use of that word) and then went to the Paddler’s Pub for dinner. We ate, drank, and laughed. We all went around a very large table and shared out high and low from the adventure. (Low – auto troubles, High – getting foodbag stolen by a bear – I can’t wait to tell the story to my kids!)
I departed with Jon, Scott, and Jason to go back to Sevierville to get my car. It turns out that the radio had a short in it that shut down the entire electrical system. A new radio and $650 later, the car was as good as it has ever been. I cruised home to my wife and family through an absolute deluge. We got off the mountain at the right time. Man, God is awful!