Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen… —Romans 1:20
Peace. Challenge. Relationship. God. These are just a few of the blessings our Wilderness Confirmation Course participants and leaders experienced on their week-long canoe trek in the Boundary Waters Wilderness of Northern Minnesota.
Peace permeated everything. We felt peace in the beauty of the landscape, in the silent rhythm of sunrises and sunsets, in the rhythmic paddling of canoes across still waters, in the easy friendships and laughter among the team and in the absence of other people and all the gadgets that go along with them, and in the presence of the Lord—silent moments each morning when a scripture passage was shared before we set off for the day. This kind of peace is a marvelous gift from God that clears the mind and renews the spirit, a gift I am certain God wants all to enjoy. The thing is, in our world, it is rare to experience this deep peace. My sense is that we tend to see life as “doing” and when we are not “doing”, we are being lazy or idle or bored. So we fill our lives with work, play, hobbies, goals, passions, schedules, achievements, amusements, relationships, Netflix, Snapchat, and YouTube and do not think to prioritize this kind of peace. None of those things can renew our minds like the gift of deep peace that God offers us.
Challenge met us each day. Physical and mental challenge. Our task was to move camp across lakes and trails—on our backs and shoulders. Portage trails were difficult to traverse—just ask the students who sank into mud past their knees. Packs were heavy—50-60-70 pounds. Canoes were difficult to maneuver through narrow passages. But with challenge came help. Teammates who encouraged and lent a hand and the Lord, who gave us strength we did not know we had and walked alongside us at every turn. Everyone made it through each challenge a bit stronger and more confident to face the next. Funny how that works in life, too.
Relationships blossomed among teens and adults who might not otherwise spend time together or even know each other. This was a powerful reminder of God’s work in our lives, in the church, and in the world. That each of us is a beloved child of God and that our church is meant to be a community of relationships where we know and appreciate each other and where we work together.
God. The presence of the Almighty was palpable first and foremost in the nature surrounding us. We had the privilege of spending a week in a place of almost unfathomable beauty and magnificence, a powerful reminder of our loving creator. But the Holy Spirit was also there in our confirmation lessons, illuminating scripture and guiding discussion. And the Lord was with us each day, guiding our steps on rugged trails and giving us strength to carry heavy loads. And Jesus was in our relationships, where love, respect, and admiration blossomed in our mini-church communities and gave us a glimpse of how it could be if we trust Him to lead us.