If you asked me when I was in high school (or any time up to about a year ago) whether or not I liked outdoorsy things like hiking and camping and nature, my answer would have been along the lines of, “Yes, I love nature as long as it doesn’t invade my comfort zone.” That basically meant that as long as it didn’t involve bugs, getting dirty, sleeping on the ground, not having access to toilets and running water, or not having hot showers that I was alright with it. I refused to go camping or spend unnecessary time outdoors when there were swarms of mosquitoes or when the chance of getting ticks was likely.
Then there was that one time in the summer of 2012.
My family was spending the weekend at Prairie Bible Institute (where I went to school 2012-13) during the summer for their class reunion. The teens all stayed in tents (outside) while the adults stayed in the dorms (inside). Well, me being the person I was, chose to stay the weekend inside in my own room.
On that Friday, all the teens went on a float trip down the river. It was supposed to be an approximately 2-3 hour trip and then we would head back up to the school campus. Long story short, due to unforeseen circumstances, this group of about 40 kids (and leaders, of course) was out on the river (on inner tubes and a couple of rafts) for 9+ hours — with NO food, no clean water, no cell phones, no shoes, no dry clothes, no fire starting supplies, no shelter, or anything. There were plenty of mosquitoes however.
We were eventually rescued and had the best chili dinner I can ever remember. And I did end up going back to study there and having an incredible year (if you’ve read any of my other posts, then you’d know this already).
Why do I tell you this story? Because this past fall (to the present) I have been working in – get this – Outdoor Education. And what is one of the programs I get to teach? Survival Hike (a.k.a. how to be prepared to survive in case the unexpected happens). Do I now enjoy being outside all the time, hiking in the woods, building tons of fires and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes? Absolutely! Well, maybe not that last one. But it sure does make me appreciate when they’re not around.
The point of this isn’t to showcase how much I now enjoy ‘getting my hands dirty’ (although I really do) or how excited I am about going backpacking this spring, but rather to point out a greater reality – that God can use even the most trivial of things to mold us and change our perspectives, to open our eyes to the things unseen. He can use all of our experiences (pleasant or not) to prepare us for the future and to help us out once we get there. God can use the most earth-shattering events as well as the things we wouldn’t think twice about in our lives to teach us and reveal Himself to us. Maybe there are things in your life that you’ve done or been through (a class, a float trip, a heartbreak or loss, a break-dancing tournament) and now you’re thinking that it might have been a waste of time or energy because it’s not currently making a difference in your life. Take heart, my friend.
Because there I was that summer, SO miserable that we got stuck out on that river, and here I am today teaching kids the importance of survival skills and being prepared; using the example of how unprepared we were on that trip for the unexpected to happen. There I was taking (what I thought were the most random and possibly even unpractical) classes at the community college, like Arabic and geology, and here I am using them today – not just in my job, also in finding little things that I have in common with people that I meet in everyday life. There I was, wondering why I had to see my grandfather suffer in the hospital from cancer? What good could possibly come out of that when it hurt so much? And here I am, realizing how easily I can relate with people who are, have or had family in the hospital with cancer, because I know what it’s like.
So live life, and soak up as much as you can. You never know when your extensive knowledge of Furbies will come in handy.