For the last five days, I’ve been on a last-gasp-of-summer river adventure with 14 guys whose lives have come together around Kingdom stewardship: our relationships have been founded on the discoveries we’ve made – together – through the shared experience of The Master’s Program.
Fifteen men, ranging from 38 to 73 (three were over 70). Four rafts – and two inflatable kayaks – on a 44 mile journey through God’s creation on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. My first trek down this stretch was 43 years ago. Call it another field-test: take men out of their normal routines; place them in the middle of an unfamiliar but winsome challenge; watch what happens when the rapids shift from Class 3 to Class 4. Age becomes irrelevant, quickly; adrenaline levels the playing field, and the shouts and grins are not forced or feigned.
On a wild river, you’d better enjoy each stretch as it comes. Zane Gray’s historic cabin came and went as we floated by. Rainey Falls was not a ride at Disneyland to be binged and rerun: each turn and every tumult was a one-and-done moment on the river. Much like life, it has no do-overs: you’re racking-up memories – and, anticipating some of the known but hidden challenges like Coffee Pot and Blossom Bar that will take you to your limits – but, more than anything, you have to be fully present in the moment to take on the ever-changing conditions that are next in the canyon. The lessons learned – or, confirmed – on a churning river transfer quickly to the realities of life that are waiting back in the more familiar – but equally demanding – realities at home.
At the end of each day’s excitement, we had ample time to take the conversations that had characterized the day – among the guys-in-the-boat – and expand them to include the whole posse. With no wi-fi or tech distractions, conversation and consideration was the shared focus. A fascinating dynamic came through: input from the older guys was sought and savored as the substance of the dialog went deeper into the things that have real, eternal value.
David’s reflections – written in the waning years of his chronicled life – were still valid, from Psalm 37: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” (vs 25-26).
Subjects – on the boat and around the dinner table – ranged from USC football to family bonding through Best Days, but the main course was consistently brought to the table through stories told by multiple men of Kingdom initiatives that were requiring days and weeks, hours stretching through the evening and outside the income-generating daylight blocks, expertise carried from career into calling, and cross-cultural impact that stretched from in-town to 12 time zones distant. These guys are living way beyond their normal boundaries, and their field reports weren’t tall tales embellished for self-aggrandizement: they were recounting the amazing phenomenon of God working through them to accomplish His business, on His terms.
As we pulled into our end-of-journey take-out, I asked one of our river guides (young, strapping vagabonds who live on-the-edge) how he would describe our group to another guide who was not on our trip. His answer: “You guys are the most worldly guys I’ve ever been around.” We froze; our use of that term had preconditioned our recoil. We were stunned, but I asked the follow-up: “How would you define ‘worldly?’”
“You guys have traveled the world, and you’re doing amazing things all over the place. You really care about each other, and you’re really involved in each others’ lives. You’re doing things that are way outside the norm. I’ve never been around guys like you…” was how he defined, Worldly.
We talked for five days on the river about Destiny and Legacy. God writes our Destiny; finding it is foundational to living a life of substance (Destiny is a great synonym for Calling). Once we find and pursue our Destiny, we write our Legacy; engaging that divine agenda for life opens the potential to invest today in a way that will continue to stimulate beneficial repercussions far into the horizon of Eternity. David knew that; we’re confirming that; our boat guides picked up on it as they were invited into our camaraderie on the Rogue.
We’re talking about doing this river trip again next year – same time, same setting. Wanna come next time and get in on the conversation?