Zion’s “Narrows” – Stepping Confidently

“Become familiar with the warning signs for flooding.  People have drowned inside the narrows from unexpected storms.”

Gulp.

One of Zion’s rangers sent us a shock as she described the danger of through-hiking the Narrows.

“But don’t worry,” she said. “Step with confidence and you’ll be fine. The biggest trouble people have is tripping on rocks while in the river. Even when you can’t see the bottom, you need to step hard. You got this.”

Comforting…

Zion3

Approaching the mouth of “The Narrows,” one will witness the red sandstone cliffs standing resolute over the river’s neighboring greenery.

The next day, my bride and I went on the greatest adventure of our honeymoon. About sixty percent of our sixteen-mile hike was spent in the Virgin River. The surrounding sandstone walls seemed ablaze as they towered over our trail, made of flowing water.

And all the while, we learned the meaning of the ranger’s advice to step with confidence. When waist deep, we often could not see the rocks below our feet.

Stepping timidly, pawing for security in our landing, often ended poorly. This shy approach proved frictionless upon contact with the rocky river bed.

But when we lifted our feet high through the water, believing our soles would land firm into what we could not see, we moved quickly. Stepping with confidence became the victorious approach.

Zion2

In places inside “The Narrows,” light barely grazes the surface of the water.

In life, we too cannot always see where our feet will land next or what adventure lies ahead. When faced with such uncertainty, sometimes the best approach for our feet is to plunge them forward, stepping faithfully into the secure landing prepared for them. And like Laura and I experienced on our hike, choosing to step confidently is completely worth the journey.

For those of us who believe in God, this idea is part of the promise we receive.  When faced with the unknown, whether into blessings or hardship, we must step confidently and faithfully.  We can do this because we believe that our good God has prepared each step of our way, sustaining and encouraging us along the adventure.

With eyes wide open,

Andrew Bellisle

Founder of The Network 5.12

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Zion1

The Virgin River flows steadily through the maze of red sandstone cliffs, standing 2,000 feet above the canyon floor.

The Adventurist Generation: Hypocritical Anti-Materialists

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 4.45.48 PM

“I need coffee.”

“He really needs a hair cut.”

“She needs different shoes with that dress.”

“I need bubble gum.”

…really?  Do you?  Over the past week, I heard these statements that made me internally vomit.  Anytime I hear the word “need” so seriously misused – as when it is paired with bubble gum – I’m gonna throw up in my mouth a little bit.

That being said, even amidst the “I need bubble gum” statements, I am thankful for my generation, or at least for my community, which seems to be becoming a less and less materialistic group, increasingly aware of the lack of “need” we truly have here in the US.

It is encouraging to me that I see more folks focused on experience and adventure instead of purchasing some new fancy object that shows how rich they are.

Dare I coin us the Adventurist Generation?

Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Perhaps I won’t have to cringe at these materialistic “I need” statements anymore because we will quit flippantly attaching the word “need” to material objects like bubble gum and haircuts.  Maybe we will start placing our focus on experience and adventure, things like long hikes through the mountains and nights spent under the stars.

But as much as I would love to see that change occur, I fear that it might not solve our real problem.

We, as anti-materialist, adventure seeking people, must learn to be careful, or we may find that:

“I need coffee” gets replaced with “I need to book a plane flight.”

“He needs a hair cut” turns into “He needs to hike through Europe.”

“She needs different shoes” becomes “She needs to go skydiving.”

 “I need bubble gum” is interchanged with “I need to rock climb a grade harder.”

So what am I saying?

Coffee, haircuts, shoes and bubble gum are not inherently bad.  Coffee is great.  Haircuts are snazzy.  Shoes get you places. And bubble gum is tasty.

The actions of traveling, hiking, skydiving, or climbing aren’t wrong either.

But the emphasis we place on them as a need instead of a privilege can be detrimental to their true essence and enjoyment.

If we as an anti-materialist generation decide we always need  a new adventure, a new sport, a new girlfriend, or new experience, then we are just as needy as those who put all of their attention on the material.  We are hypocrites.

I find myself doing this all the time.

Judging the materialists.  Being the adventurist.

But neither a material object nor an adventure should be a necessity in my life.

So here it is.  It’s simple.

Be grateful for the things you own and the places you go.  Enjoy the moments surrounding them.  But most importantly recognize that owning stuff and experiencing adventures are privileges, not necessities.

From a Hypocritical Anti-Materialist,

Andrew Bellisle

Founder of The Network 5.12

What are ridiculous things you’ve heard people say they “needed?”  What are things you might even feel you “need” but don’t?  We’d love to hear from you.  Just use the comments.