I hiked a mountain today. I got rocked.
Today I went hiking with some of the guys from my dorm and some of the girls from our sister dorm. Despite my upbringing in the foothills of the Cascades, I'm not what you would call the "hiking type." I've hiked the mountain that is probably 5 miles (if that) from my house a grand total of two times. Various trails around the area have probably seen me two or three times in the past 20 years. So I think I've established my dislike for hiking, but what I haven't established is my love of community and relationships.
After I broke out of the "awkward shell" near the end of my sophomore year, I have been fascinated with developing relationships with all types of people. My comfortability in meeting new people really started to show itself during my first year of college. Now Central Washington University wasn't an entirely new place because I knew several people that went there, but the 16,000 people compare to the 1,600 at my high school really provided that opportunity for expansion.
I met all sorts of people with all different walks of life last year but the greatest relationships I made were the ones I made at my church and bible study. Those were the people I was able to connect with on a much deeper level, a spiritual connectivity instead of the somewhat shallow appreciation for sports, music, and video games. We could listen to music, watch sports, play a game, and at the same time develop community within the body of Christ. I know that those are the first people I want to see and reconnect with when I visit in January.
Our hike today really put into perspective the lengths we sometimes have to go to build community and strengthen the Church. It's not always comfortable and it may not be enjoyable, but in the end I think God is glorified. I think God takes great joy in His children spending time together, whether it be hiking a mountain, or eating lunch, or even going for a walk. God loves to see His children doing life together.
The hike was pretty tough, at least it was for me. The trail today was covered with leaves and scattered with rocks. Puddles of mud lines the sides and a gradual ascent made for a longer trail. We reached a mountain of white marble rocks and boulders and began the real hike.
I had never been a part of something like this and a few of the other guys hadn't been on that trail before so we were all pretty inexperienced when it came to the ascent of this pile of boulders. Our climb involved the jumping of gaps between rocks, chasms reaching 20-30 feet down. We had to maneuver ourselves around rock faces in order to reach the next set of boulders. We had to pull ourselves up over boulders, wiggle in between cracks, and scale very slippery marble slabs. But after about 45 minutes we made it to the top of the pile.
As I surveyed the horizon I couldn't help but be taken aback by all that I saw. In the midst of Autumn, the hills of Virginia were brilliant shades of oranges, reds, and yellows. The clouds covered the majority of the sun but still beams of light shown around the valleys. The clouds cast shadows throughout the countryside bringing a calmness to the scene. I couldn't help but thank my God for providing our group with such a beautiful landscape.
As we began to climb down the pile of marble we were all taking extra caution to watch our step as one wrong move could send us down into the cracks of a rock or tumbling down the marble faces. But we all made it through unscathed. That is until we were about 15 minutes from the cars...
I'm not really sure what happened but I remember taking a step and seeing my foot on its side as I stepped down from a ledge. Instant pain shot through my leg and I knew that I had twisted it. Therein lies my dislike for hiking. If you get hurt, there's almost ALWAYS the guarantee that you still have trail left to travel. How are we supposed to make that trek with a bum leg or ankle unless someone carries said injured member? And that is what happened...no I'm just kidding. People actually offers but I didn't make them do that. I didn't want to put the rest of my group through that extremely difficult experience so we just took a little break.
I was pretty angry that I had made it so far without any injuries but during that break I did see my group come together and comfort me. One of the guys broke a tree in half and stripped it of its leaves for me as a walking stick. I mean seriously, he just broke that thing in half and 2 minutes later I was Moses. As we were walking they continued to ask if I was okay or how I was doing. That's the care we should see from the body of Christ. That's the love we should feel in our struggles and hardships.
Through that challenging experience I've learned community is something we must continually work at. It involves getting out of our comfort zones and pursuing relationship with anyone and everyone. We are called to be Christ's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:11-21), how can we be ambassadors if we don't talk to anyone at church or in the community? How can we shine the light of Christ when we walk down the hall completely shutout from the rest of reality? It is time we begin to get a little uncomfortable. It is time we get a little awkward. If we pursue relationship, we are given the opportunity and ability to share the truth we profess and the Jesus that loves us to the individual that doesn't know Him. Christ loves all people, it is time we start loving everyone as well.