by Joel Bates
Every DM intern must complete certain assigned readings from the shelves of our camp library. We have some good ones, like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Ashley Denton’s Outdoor Leadership, but my all-time favorite is Alfred Lansing’s Endurance. Though I’d read the story before, I found for the first time a message of Jesus sandwiched between the lines.
The ship was lost, but the men aboard were not. We read how they painstakingly hauled their equipment and stores miles and miles across the treacherous ice tundra, always taking sightings and plotting a course for the freedom and salvation of the ocean that lay north. Months and months, they traveled with persistence and fervor across the rolling tide of the floes to reach the sea. But alas, the sea presented another test of their skill and resolve as they embarked again on a perilous journey, braving the icebergs, encountering pack ice, and being drenched by the icy spray from the swells of the open ocean.
Though riddled with scenes of peril, intrigue, and the anguish of their plight, it was the book’s last few pages that brought tears to my eyes. Against all odds and with unmistakable divine intervention, Shackleton prevailed and returned to rescue his crew who had waited faithfully for months. The captain refused to rest easy until the last soul was reclaimed from Elephant Island, and as those souls step into the lifeboat, “everything that had only moments before seemed so important, now faded into nothing at the realization of their rescue.”
I cannot help but think of our great expedition leader, Jesus. He crossed a void we could not cross. He overcame all odds to rescue us. I want to be like that crew awaiting their captain, faithfully believing that he would return. I will not lose hope, not grow apathetic, not become consumed with hoarding all I can to preserve myself in this current situation. With my Savior looking on, I want to be one who steps into that lifeboat, having never lost faith, having never given up the fight, and never looking back and longing for the trappings of all the remains on icy, Elephant Island—things that seemed so important only moments before, but now fade into nothing.
When interns ask which book to read first, I might just suggest, The Gospel according to Endurance.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.