It’s early June and hunting season is over for just about everything. This is the time of the year when attention begins to turn toward any of the fall hunting trips we may have planned. For me, this attention is less about gear and weapons and more about getting in shape and testing. Any vanity I may have had regarding sculpted torsos and chiseled arms has vanished long ago. Nowadays, I struggle with the question of “Can I get there?” Will I be able to reach the top of wherever I may be going and down the other side? Looking good in Under Armour has been replaced by the desire for comfortable shoes. The weight of my backpack is something I think about now, while years ago this thought would have never crossed my mind. Backpacks are necessary to carry those needed supplies for the situations we expect to find, and the situations we hope not to find. Experience in the back country also teaches us which situations need supplies and which situations can be overcome with an absence of supplies.
Water is a must. No matter what, no matter where, water is something I must pack in. Toilet paper is also a must. Some back country hunters are really fond of using nature in all its glory. Me…I’m just find with using a little TP and burying whatever needs buried. Any tools specific to my weapon or the desired wild game is a must. No point bow hunting for elk without any arrows or with out any cow calls. Imitating the sounds of female elk is mighty important if the goal is to take a bull elk. Otherwise, I am hiking, not hunting. There are some items that seem important, however, experience has shown me that they are rarely (if that) used. A compass and hand held GPS are two items I’ve never used because I’ve needed them. I’ve used them just to say that I did. While they don’t add much weight, if I forget to add them to my backpack, I don’t sweat it. Food is one of those items I’ve experimented with. What kind, how much, types of packaging, etc. are all thoughts and questions I’ve wrestled with over the years. As I get older, I pack less and less sandwich stuff and more and more snack stuff. It’s lighter, it carries energy, and I get rid of the loud crinkle type wrappers before I pack them. Bear protection is also a must. I like to carry bear spray over the weight and bulk of a sidearm. It’s easy to use, very effective, and any idiot can use it. The idiot would be me. After walking for 10 hours up and down and all around…the mental aspect of not shooting myself while drawing my sidearm is something I don’t want to think about. Shooting bear spray from the hip is as easy as watching the stream and directing it into the bears nose…and then run. I can do that.
This brings me to summertime testing. Can I perform physically to travel the terrain I need to travel? These questions can be answered on the steps of the local football field, however, I like to make a trip to the mountains to put myself through the paces. Hiking is a great exercise in testing. Can I do it? If I discover that I can’t…then those steps at the local field will get more use as I prepare myself for the fall season. Being in shape is all about preparation for the tasks which lie ahead. Both the expected tasks, and the unexpected tasks. Our Christian walk is a lot like this. God has laid certain tasks and responsibilities at our feet for the work of the kingdom. Some of these are known and we can prepare for them easily. Our experience and our spiritual backpacks equip us for the expected tasks. Some of the spiritual gifts we possess are absolutely necessary for the expected tasks. These gifts are never removed from our packs because we know we will need them. Many of us have gifts, as yet, uncovered…only because they are intended for the unexpected circumstance. You know…that situation we thought we would never be in.
In Matthew 14:23, we read this, “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.”
Our Lord and Savior, after sending away the crowds He was ministering to, found a quiet place, all by Himself, shut off the world around Him…and prayed. When I read this verse, I detect more than the 21st Century definition of praying. I see REST. I see Jesus making time to REST in the arms of His Father. I see ‘forehead’ time. I see a man who knew that time on His knees, forehead pressed to the ground, enveloped in the presence of the Almighty…is the secret to living by the Spirit as opposed to the flesh. Friends…I need this. I need ‘forehead’ time. My backpack is nicely equipped for the kingdom work I can see and expect…but I fear I am woefully under packed for the things I cannot see.
As we walk this road of sanctification together, in community, we need to return again and again to the mountain…alone…unplugged…and find our knees…forehead to the ground…and REST in His presence. For most of us, this is the missing piece of our devotion and worship. Remember, the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” is less about the truth Jesus said…and more about the Truth Jesus is. Our ‘forehead’ time packs our backpacks with Him. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Packing ‘presence’ will not add to the load we are carrying, in fact, my pack feels heavier without it.
What about you? How are you doing? Do you need some ‘forehead’ time…?