Monday, July 09, 2007

Return from a Mountain Adventure

I just finished the 26 mile hike on "Eagle Rock Loop Trail" in Ouachita National Forest. That's in Southwest Arkansas, if you are interested. It's truly a beautiful place, but part of the trail is quite grueling. You'll need to be in shape for it.

I went into the woods for several reasons. One, I wanted to do a little fishing in pristine mountain streams. Mission accomplished. Second, I wanted to hang out with a couple of good friends on the trail. That was a blessing. Thirdly, I had hoped that being out in nature's beauty would remind me of God's magnificence in creation. That mission was not so successful.

I know that this sort of confession will draw gasps from nature lovers everywhere, but I confess that the mountain-top views did not inspire much wonder and awe for me on this trip, and that got me thinking about the Christian life. I hope that this analogy will help you understand the Christian life a little better.

Since the advent of the car and paved roads, it is fairly easy to get a good view from a mountain top somewhere. You can simply drive to some "Look Out Point," put the car in park and enjoy the view. You cannot do that in the wild. In one day, my friends and I had to walk over four mountains, carrying 35 lbs. on our backs, fighting the heat and exhaustion just to get to a decent campsite. Not only did we have to contend with heat and fatigue, we had to fight ticks, chiggers, biting flies, and even snakes. And it rained. In fact, the wood was so wet that we could barely build a decent fire.

So what did I learn from nature? It's fallen. Instead of fruit trees, the ground grows thorns and prickly things. There is almost nothing edible in the forest, and even that which is edible is fairly lousy. Except the occasional blackberry, but even that gift comes with thorns. Even clear mountain streams can prove lethal if the water is not filtered and treated before drinking.

The Bible teaches that "the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:20-21). So even the beauty of nature is tainted with the corruption of the fall. I could not see God as clearly as I wished in nature because it is fallen as I am fallen. Sin permeates the natural world and obscures the glory of God.

So as I walked over the cursed land I dreamed of a day when the Creator will liberate His creation from bondage. I imagined a day with no more thorns, chiggers, mosquitoes, and ticks. Even the earth longs for the day of redemption. Together we groaned for the return of the King.

With all of this negativity, you might imagine that I did not enjoy myself. I actually enjoyed myself immensely, and I will backpack again with eagerness. My point is that I will not enjoy it as much as I will someday, in that day when Christ reigns in Jerusalem and all of creation is perfected at last.


Norma said...

Thanks. A beautiful reminder.

Matt Brown said...

All those bugs that like to chew on human flesh make me think, "What did they eat before The Fall?"