From the Editor
Two Sides of the Coin
The chicken and the egg, nature versus nurture, or faith and good works; all are fabulous topics to toss out while you’re chillin’ around the campfire looking for some lively debate. Ideas and passion abound on each side of these classic arguments, yet like most philosophical “discussions,” the winner usually comes from the side that yells the loudest. However, no matter how hard you argue on one side or the other, the reality is that you can’t have one without the other: the chicken requires the egg and vice versa, a person is significantly influenced by both upbringing and genetics, and faith in Christ is all that is required yet out of faith inevitably comes good works. C.S. Lewis writes that it’s “like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is more necessary.1”
The same holds true when we pursue our passions outdoors and ask ourselves who or what we put our trust in. Take the question of your survival kit. You’re heading into the backcountry, what do you take? Do you grab your cell phone and head out the door, do you grab a ball of twine and chewing gum and bank on your skills from that outdoor survival class saving the day, or do you simply say a prayer and have faith that God will bring you home safely? For most of us, the answer is probably all three.
That dynamic tension exists in all of our pursuits. Do I have the right gear to run this river, bike this trail, or climb this wall? Have I trained hard enough to make it, have I learned the right techniques, and have I practiced enough to be successful? Do I have faith that He has a plan for me and am I in tune to His leading. The exciting part of getting out there and challenging yourself is partly to answer these very questions. Then, when it all comes together and you find out you really do have what it takes to accomplish your goals, that sense of achievement and confidence fills your spirit to overflowing.
Whether you rely more on one aspect than another depends on the risk involved, experience level of the person, and the difficulty level of the task, but you never completely leave one of them locked up in the car at the trailhead. It’s a matter of emphasis. Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli treat the theological problem of free will (it’s all about our decisions) versus God’s will (it’s all about His plan) this way:
If the emphasis is on God’s predestination, our attitude to life will emphasize trust and faith and acceptance and hope; while if the emphasis is on human free will, our attitude to life will emphasize morality and spiritual warfare and the will to make the right choices. The first emphasizes wisdom, the second morality; the first contemplation, the second action; the first seeing, the second doing; the first faith, the second works. They are two sides of the same Christian coin.2
So as you read about A Rocha's environmental conservation efforts working with communities, Edy Sutherland's realizations about just who is in control, or what happened to Ashley Dannelly when she lost her focus, consider the dynamic tension and illumination that pursuing our passions outdoors offers us. In all of its obvious majesty, the natural world is not just a pretty picture that shows us what an amazing God can do outside of us, it's an interactive environment that allow us to experience what a personal God can do inside of us as well.
Regardless, I know the debates around the campfire will continue; I just hope that no one will stomp off to their tent angry at having been misunderstood. For me, as I test my metal in the Andes to start the new year, I hope I’ve trained hard enough and have the right gear, but I also have faith that God travels with me wherever I go. It’s not a bullet-proof vest, but it is a comfort to know that He has a plan and I have a place in it. I’ve climbed the corporate ladder, climbed a few mountains, and flown into harm’s way for my country, but without God I wouldn’t have the strength to even attempt this 22,000’ mountain. In fact if I’m really honest with myself about it, without Him, I might have never gotten out of bed this morning.
1 - Lewis, C.S., A Joyful Christian (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1977), 135.
2 - Kreeft, Peter & Tacelli, Ronald K., Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 143.