They had hijacked our canoe.
After maneuvering the stream and catching crawdads, setting them against each other on flat rocks and watching them fight, Jacob, Douglas, and I had been marooned by the other numerous members of the Brock family, all visiting summer Camp Badger in the wilderness of New York state for the week-long Brock Family Reunion.
My toe was broken (long story short, I’d connected it with the ground while trying to kick a soccer ball in bare feet on the first day of the Reunion…), and I had on only my bare feet when maneuvering the canoe, not having to use them all that much. But we’d rowed the canoe across the pond, on the opposite end of the camp from the dining hall, where most of our hanging out tended to happen. On the other side of the pond flowed a creek, pooling and becoming deep and cool in some spots, gliding along the surface of smooth stones in others, and being a dry and rocky beach all the rest. Branches hung low over the creek from nearby trees, and their deceased relatives dammed up one or two sections of the water.
After beaching the canoe and securing our paddles, the three of us ventured into the current of the creek. Jacob very graciously gave me his shoes to wear while walking over the stones hidden beneath the water to make it easier on my injury.
When we came back, someone had picked up a particularly aggravated Douglas along with our canoe. Three boats floated in the space far out in front of us, all friends and family laughing and grinning at our stranded state. We looked at each other and smiled.
The swim across the pond to the shore and the dock was an adventure. The sun shone in all the sweet light God created it, and the water was the perfect temperature with a cold pocket here and there. The prospect of not knowing what could be living underneath me as I glided through the water brought in an element of danger and excitement. The pond floor was squishy and enveloping whenever I could find a spot to touch, so I just as well trod water to avoid the mud and algae messing with the spaces between my toes.
We’d had many adventures like this one in the past weeks. Hannah, Beth, Jake, Patrick, Nathan, and I broke ourselves in half by running a Warrior Dash, which was routed along the ups and downs of Windham Mountain, a ski resort. The sun had beat down on us, and mud had caked our faces and dusted our arms and legs. We army-crawled through straw under barbed wire; we climbed walls, ran through tunnels, swam over nets, maneuvered balance beams, and talked to and had a blast with the runners around us who were just as crazy as we were.
At the family picnic at my house, there had been a water fight of epic proportion. People wrestled for control of the hose, buckets of ice cold water were thrown, and everyone had a massively great time.
And yet all of these would’ve fallen flat, the excitement artificial, if God hadn’t had a hand in them. Throughout Jacob’s time with my family (he had come to visit us for a few days), Jimmy opened up immensely, and I learned a lot about my family, about trusting God as I trust others, about handling circumstances, and about trusting God with the results of everything.
At the Warrior Dash, we’d stood stretching, surrounded by tons of runners, the air filled with heavy pop music to pump everyone up for the epicness that was about to go down. And as I looked around, Colossians 3:17 came to mind: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” And I wondered if “everything” encompassed running a Warrior Dash…yes, including the running of a Warrior Dash.
All of the time I spent with the Brocks at their family reunion was both a challenge and an adventure. I spent my time with God on a bridge that stretched over a creek, early in the morning as the sun was coming up. And I sat there each morning, completely enraptured and romanced and comforted by the beauty that so serenely existed around me, going on with its greatness whether I beheld it or not. My broken toe proved to be a large lesson in humility, since it was not uncommon for me to ask Jacob to carry me across the campgrounds since it would be more efficient than my slowly limping all the way, and since it was impossible for me to do things for myself within an acceptable time frame…I needed the help of others, and hated the fact that I couldn’t do all that everyone else could do. And so there I was, having to lean on (literally) the people around me, and trusting that God would bring something wonderful and worthwhile out of it.
This summer seemed to come to its climax on the final day of reunion, after we unloaded everything at the Brock household and Beth and I were preparing to hit the road. I was headed home, and it would be the last time I saw Jake for some time. We’d talked about departures, and how they didn’t have to be sad, no…and it was then when something clicked.
“We think you’ll find that every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That’s what makes a woman come alive.” —John & Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
This book, written for the hearts of women all over the world, describes these things as the three desires of those hearts: “to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty.” Up to this point in reading the book and meditating on its content, I’d related to and understood the desire to be romanced and the desire to unveil beauty, and I’d seen how both manifested themselves in God’s character as well as in my relationship with Him, though the unveiling of beauty stretches my mental comfort zones. But the desire to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure still seemed to be missing something. It was as Beth and I prayed over Jake, and then Jake over me, before the two of us girls left that I understood what God had in mind, has in mind, when He speaks of adventure.
I get to share in an adventure with God, orchestrated by God, purposed by God, and experienced by God. I get to play a part that He’s created specifically for me and no one else can do what God has created me to do. I saw that reflected in Jake as the two of us drove back to the Brock household from camp, debriefing. Our departures then seemed less like the ending of things, of something wonderful, and more like the beginning of something even better. My desire switched from wanting this summer to never end, to anticipating with great joy and willing readiness the next battle, the next quest, the next epic God would write into my life for me to go through with Him.
And so it is. In just three weeks, I will be heading back to Pratt, back into the war I stepped out of for some months. And yet I am reminded that I am not walking in alone, nor without proper equipment. God knows what will happen, what battles I’ll face, what difficulties will present themselves, and He knows of the joys, the blessings, the miracles, the faith, and the absolute magnificence that will overwhelm me when I least expect it, when I need it, when I crave it. Of course, sitting here, I feel totally unprepared and ill-equipped, uncertain of what the future will hold. I don’t quite feel like I’m going in ready for anything. And yet, at the same time, I know that God is ready for it all, that He’s prepared and set, solid and firm, certain and sure. And that makes all the difference.