The week-long experience of hiking and discussing the need for our churches to have a Jesus Worldview was enlightening. My trip to Wyoming with colleagues and peers has helped me to better recognize the teachable moments that we can gather from the paths we travel.
Nearly 20 years ago, I hiked many of those same trails by myself. I was a 20-something seminarian who had taken the summer off to road-trip out west. The beauty and grandeur that I experienced those few months have lingered with me through the years. Likewise, so has the memory of the loneliness that I experienced on the trail alone.
No, the loneliness I experienced, then, while on the many hiking trails I traveled was not debilitating or haunting. In fact, it likely added to the experience as I had the chance to process internally the movements of the Holy Spirit in my life. So yes, I had time and space to reflect and to contemplate life.
The contrast, however, between my sojourn out west as a young man and the hiking that I experienced with peers and newfound friends last week was stark. To put it simply: it was good to hike with others.
While on the trail last week, our cadre of ministers would become stretched out over 100 yards or more. We had space to marvel at the scenery and to pray; to think and to consider life. But we also had the freedom to hike in twos and threes, talking together about our churches, our challenges, and our world. We exchanged places on the trail, some of us leading with vigor, and others of us hanging back with those who needed to catch their breath. We’d stop to take pictures of the same vista. We’d slow down to look at wildlife. We’d laugh and joke about our journeys together and would speak in quiet tones about the tender places in our lives.
I’m struck by the reality that this is how Jesus encountered the world. Jesus elected to travel with others—with us! Rather than going it alone, Jesus sought out others to travel alongside him on the Path. He did this, I believe, because of his love for us. I choose to believe that Jesus’s decision to invest himself in others wasn’t simply for the sake of Kingdom-expediency and message-crafting. Instead, I believe he called disciples to travel alongside him because he genuinely wanted to be with them.
Having a Jesus Worldview means traveling with Jesus. When we walk humbly with God on the Path, Jesus’s reality shapes and transforms our own. True, we don’t always spot Jesus—just as his two followers didn’t recognize him on their way to Emmaus that Easter Sunday morning. But he is here with us, coming up alongside us, and leading the way. And the ones we travel with help us to see him and to recognize him.
That’s why we don’t travel alone.