Discipleship in the Wilderness 1

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14 September 2018 by romanin

I mentioned in a recent newsletter that I had taken a few guys on a backpacking trip for the purpose of getting them unplugged from their devices, into God’s creation, and to a place where they can hear from the Lord.  Here is a testimony from one of the young men that went with me.  For safety’s sake, his name can be Gerald.  Here is the first half of his testimony:

Nick, Larry and I had begun to plan a backpacking trip back in April.  The trip was scheduled for the end of June. It was such an exciting and brand-new thing for me to try. Before I move on to details of the trip, I want to talk about a small incident that happened before I got back to the States from a trip home to China.

On June 4th, which was four days before my return to America, I visited my uncle in Qingdao (Ching-dow) and was persuaded to drink too much with him. Then I lost my wits and injured my knees; I don’t even remember how. After I returned to America, one day I was thinking about my knees, God revealed His mind to me: Since I was baptized back on Thanksgiving of 2016, I have not drunk much alcohol at all, but this time, I lost my testimony when I shared the gospel with my uncle. God’s will is that he wants me to learn a lesson and the injury to my knee is a mark for the lesson. I thought when I learn the lesson, the pain will pass, whereas the doctor said one of my knees may take a few months to recover and I should avoid walking on it until then. Because of the knee injury, I had a hard time walking and was concerned about the upcoming hiking trip. But God will provide for us when he wants us to do something. A few days before the trip, Larry and Nick lent me knee braces to assist my walking, and with the braces, I didn’t have much pain.

Even with the concern that the long hike may make my knee worse, I still went with Nick and Larry for the backpacking trip. On this trip, I had a vivid experience of God’s presence like never before!

Our trip started on Friday night and ended on Sunday afternoon. We camped Friday night at the trailhead and headed to the trails on Saturday morning. On the first day trip, we saw a copperhead snake next to a tree. Then, for my first time, I saw the snake climbing up the tree. We thought it was great to see the nature God created (Prov. 30:18-19), but God has his own purpose for the things that we see, which I will explain soon. Around 6pm, we made it to our campsite next to a huge lake, and my knees were fine with the braces on. When I finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to take off my knee braces since they were very tight on my legs. But I found that without the braces, I still couldn’t walk very well.

Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.”  —(Proverbs 30:18–19 ESV)

That afternoon, we had a half hour alone to meditate on the scripture for the journey, which was Colossians 1:9-12:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”—(Colossians 1:9–12 ESV)

Larry mentioned God said through the spirit that He loves him as a beloved son, which was very encouraging for him as he was recently going through some difficulties from life. I remember that night was the hottest weekend of Indiana in the record and I got sick with the hotness that night, so I didn’t get much rest on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, after my morning study on Proverb 4:1-23, we began our return journey and this was the peak of the entire trip. Since I was sick from the hotness the night before, I was weak and started to feel tired after the first mile, whereas Nick and Larry were unexpectedly energetic and walked out in front. I became slower and slower, but I started to pray to God for strength and power to finish the journey. As soon as I started to pray, I immediately found that the tiredness was gone, and I could still walk normally. After a while, I was reminded about Exodus, where Moses said to the Israelites to lift up their heads in the wilderness in front of the foreigners to show that god gave them strength, and I thought I should lift up my head and walk with my back straight because God also gave me strength. It helped a lot since the design of the backpack is to put all the weight on our hips when walking upright.

In a day or two I’ll post the second half of my friend’s testimony.  It was a simple trip, only a little planning, but God used it for cool things.  Notice that already, these guys were learning the wonder of God’s creation, they were reminded of their identities in Christ as sons of God, and they are learning to walk upright!!  There’s a lot more to come.  God is amazing, and worked in spite of my poor planning, not because of it!


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