From the Editor
Probably no endeavor has been written about, celebrated, and philosophized on more than mountain climbing. Coming in a close second are backcountry survival stories, harrowing escape tales, and the ever-popular superlatives (run the fastest triathlon, kayak the biggest waterfall, catch the most fish, etc…) These amazing stories are meant to inspire us towards greatness. They are meant to celebrate the all-powerful man and his ability to conquer the natural world. However, no matter how many of these stories I read, I still find myself staring at the same 5.11 wall, respectable half-marathon time, and empty big game tag wondering why I can’t accomplish what so many others have. Sometimes the constant media coverage of these modern day heroes just serves to make me feel that much more incompetent.
This has probably always been the case, it’s just that with today’s constant media coverage and ubiquity of social media, no longer do I judge myself against a few people in my village or town or even state, but now I am comparing myself with the best in the entire world, all the time.
Well if these standouts and overachievers are the people we look up to today, and we are supposed to look to the Bible for our inspiration and moral direction, then where are the amazing success stories from Biblical times? Did you ever wonder why the Bible’s heroes don’t look quite like the “heroes” of today?
Adam caved at the very suggestion of a shortcut to greatness, David cheated on his wife and betrayed his friends to get what he wanted, Rahab was a prostitute but came through when it counted, and the disciples were a bunch of misfits from the lower end of society who somehow obtained the wisdom to form a church that would last for centuries and the guts to defend it to the death. Where was the human greatness that these people tapped into to become Biblical giants and role models?
The answer lies in the very message that Jesus brought to earth and died on the cross to offer to each one of us. In the end, we cannot do it on our own. Only through Jesus Christ do we have the strength and goodness to tap into and become the men and women that are worthy of respect and emulation. Unlike the modern-day message, it is not through our own strength of will or power of body that we achieve great things, but it is through Him and Him alone.
So, is there anything wrong with pushing for greatness and attempting to achieve the amazing feats that exist in the outdoor arena? Of course not. The problem comes when we begin to believe our own press and look at ourselves as some great pool of strength and power that can achieve impossible things. In the end, it is only through our faith in Jesus and belief in Him that gives us the strength to continue on up that hill, to battle through the storm, or to overcome that adversity.
In the end, it is actually through our failures that we learn about ourselves, about our faith, and about our God. We are better people, stronger people, and more resilient people because of our epic fails much more than due to our epic achievements.
I am so thankful that on any given day when I decide to turn around rather than attempting the last thousand feet in avalanche conditions, or back off the pace rather than risk permanent knee damage, or line those Class IV rapids that I’m not ready for, I am not a failure in life or less of a man than those other, more accomplished outdoorsmen. What I am is a guy trying to challenge himself, experience God in the outdoors, and return to everyday life a better husband, father, and man. In God’s lexicon, epic fail has way different connotations than in man’s limited vocabulary.
Pursue, Explore, Celebrate,