Tales from the Mountain
When our son, Richard, was in Boy Scouts, his troop had several trips that were their ‘signature’ trips. One of them was the Rainbow Bridge hike. This one was for the older boys and those deemed in the best shape. If you don’t know, Rainbow Bridge is in Southern Utah along the shore of Lake Powell. It’s an amazing sandstone bridge, 234’ high, it truly looks like a rainbow frozen in stone. Today, just about anyone can reach the bridge via tour boat, personal boat, or, for the more adventurous, even by canoe and kayak.
Before the lake, the only way to reach the bridge was an arduous hike from nearby Navajo Mountain, some 14 miles of, mostly, downhill trail. For the Scouts, we’d drop them off at a camp site on the side of the mountain and very early the next morning they would begin the hike with just a daypack and water. The plan was to take their gear down to Lake Powell where those of us with boats would take the gear and find a good beach for a couple days of fun after the hike. We’d arrive at the bridge about 3pm to wait for the boys who would begin to trickle in about 4pm.
One year, we had Bobby on the hike. He was, well, different. He didn’t like listening to advice from the older boys, let alone adults. My son, along with two other older boys were the last on the hike to make sure everyone made it in. When they walked in, we asked where Bobby and the other 3 boys were, they were supposed to be in front of Richard’s group. They never saw Bobby and his patrol. We began to get worried, Bobby was also a diabetic and his insulin was on my boat. We sent Richard and one other, with a radio back up the trail and they took off jogging. Meanwhile, we notified the ranger and the wheels of a search were set in motion. Before long a plane was warming up on the tarmac in Page, we were worried about losing daylight.
About that time, I got the radio call from Richard, they had the ‘lost’ patrol. It seems they came to the trail fork where the southern (longer) trail merged from Navajo Mountain – they were going back up the mountain, the wrong way! Fortunately, they encountered a German tourist, traveling alone who had figured out he, also, had taken a wrong turn and was on his way back, so he got the boys turned back around.
When they made it in, the sun was setting, I had sent three of the boats back to camp before sunset and only mine and one other leader and his boat remained. It happened to be a full-moon with calm water as night fell so I turned over the helm to Richard as we left the canyon, he is a competent helmsman. Another parent asked me, “Are you really letting him drive back to camp?”
Galatians 3:23-29 reads, in part,
“Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”
The word “disciplinarian” is a difficult one to translate but what it means in context is equivalent to a ‘child-leader’ or to be like a governess. It is one who keeps us out of trouble and teaches moral behavior.
Bobby tried to take on leadership, but he lacked experience and maturity to make good decisions, yet others still followed him. My answer to the concerned parent about Richard driving was this; “I’ve taught him navigation, safe handling, and I’ve coached and watched him for many hours. I trust his decisions.” I had ‘discipled’ him to a point of maturity in safely handling the boat.
When we learn to trust Christ with our life, it is a big step, a leap. As we gain confidence in and through faith, we grow in maturity to life as faithful disciples and to make other disciples. We’re all in different places on this journey of faith, so we need each other to guide us on the trail, bring us back to the right trail, and to take us back to camp until we learn what Jesus promised,
“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Hebrews 8:10)
Who are you discipling this year? Who might you begin to disciple, teaching faith, trust in Jesus, and going deeper into this life as followers of Jesus?
Peace & Grace, Pastor John