What backpacking with my son taught me about God's mission

My summer vacation taught me something about the mission of God.  

This summer, I took my son on his first backpacking trip. We spent two days at a mountain tarn in Yellowstone National Park called Cascade Lake. And despite terrible weather (rain, sleet and snow) Zach had a great time. He endured the cold and the setbacks with a great attitude. And he can’t wait to tell his friends at school how he walked into the woods carrying “everything he needed to survive.” (Never mind the fact that Dad carried most of what he needed.) 

Zach and I did not embark on this adventure lightly. I did not want to wind up stuck in the backcountry with a whining kid who refused to walk another step. I wanted to be ready for blisters and fatigue and hunger and bad weather. So we purchased gear, we tested gear, we went for walks around our neighborhood loaded down with gear. We adjusted packs and waterproofed boots and experimented with different ways to organize our stuff. This trip took lots of preparation, several trial runs, and considerable expense. All to spend one night under the Wyoming stars.  

Driving back from vacation, I started to think about other projects I give effort to. There’s a book I want to write. There are home improvements we’ve discussed. There are friendships, work projects, educational opportunities, and hobbies that I give my time to.  

And there are my neighbors.  

God has put my family in our neighborhood on purpose. I think he has done the same for you. And blessing our neighbors — representing Jesus to unbelieving friends — should be a project that gets no less consideration than a two-day summer hike. I have to admit I haven’t given it the attention it deserves.  

I wonder: which of those two projects — displaying the love of Jesus or taking a summer vacation — has cost me more? Which have I spent more time planning? Which did I pray about more? What gear have I purchased for each? And what trial runs have I made?  

I was grateful for the chance to take Zach backpacking and teach him a bit about the outdoors. I hope it’s a memory that he’ll cherish. I don’t think it was a waste of energy. But I also wonder if my heavenly Father is just waiting to take me on another adventure, if I’ll only strap on my boots and put in the effort.