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125-The Dichotomy Of Independence...

My arm was feeling heavy as my muscles protested the mere 7 ounces being held up over my head for the last 10 minutes or so.  Adding to the fatigue was the additional exertion of continuous fast-paced hiking that propelled us ahead of the sunrise (it felt like a new Olympic sport, unappreciated by the masses and maybe even considered silly—and yet it’s out there for reasons deeper than the common man can justify).  This pace was only made possible by the incredibly light nature of the pack that was strapped onto my back by a series of nylon and plastic fasteners and adjusters to make it rather an extension of my body than an additional container to store my survival gear.  In my hand was my tether to the world—an iPhone 14 taking time lapse footage of the new-growth trail that twisted and snaked its way out to the end of Hansen’s Point, where our sunrise pancake breakfast awaited to be prepared.


The narrow tunnel of small trees was a result of the flames that leveled the playing field for all growth, a natural by-product of wild fires that can thrash our lush forests.  My light pack made the journey exciting and gave a rush—feeling like an Indy car zipping around the corners of the Grand Prix Street Circuit.  However, without the ease of the light breakfast contents and some water, the full burden of moving camp down the line took the Grand Prix to the World Snail Racing Championships, feeling the constant gravitational forces on your hips and shoulders, the pack creaking in protest with every step.  It’s hard to say exactly how heavy each of our packs weighed, but each of us had to do our part to reach our car waiting for us at Martins Fork Trailhead.  There was no early exit strategy as far at the students knew (maybe one of the best kept secrets that make guiding exciting as we reflect on our first wilderness adventures to keep it epic for our clients).  The slow tempo on day three started to make an obvious impact on a strong, young 18-year-old and although his attitude remained steady, his body did not.  More than one time he had to stop and do something that may be the hardest thing to do for any adult male, and maybe for many ladies out there who want to be self-sufficient and strong.


There is nothing wrong with being strong, capable and knowledgeable… our world needs those people!  However, there is another facet of life that often gets lost in the muddy waters of true independence—the need for relationships.  Family, close friends (face to face, not “likes”), co-workers who know more than just your name, and even your literal and figurative neighbors… true independence is not making all your own decisions, uninfluenced by the living world around you, it’s choosing to operate within your world and accept that you are in need.  Independently dependent—this is the reality on which I believe every human lands at some point or another—a need for love, community, and a Savior who knows you knows you inside and out.  (Yes, there is a spiritual world out there we have to reconcile with as well, but we’ll save that for another time).


Both 18-year-old guys on this trip attempted to out carry the other, giving the term pack-mule a face, but it was the humility of Davon that brought to light the absurdity of such a challenge and painted an awesome picture of independent dependence.  After about a half mile after our pancake breakfast and fully loaded, Davon requested a break and said those words I love to hear, “I think my pack is too much.”  As much as I’m into not hearing “I can’t” I’m even more into the phrase, “I need help.”  Without an ounce of condemnation or judgement, the team distributed some of the weighty gear that was forced into Davon’s pack, adding it to our own, then starting the slow, uphill march once again.   


Sometimes we want the satisfaction of knowing we can do whatever is in our heart all on our own.  It feels good knowing that we don’t have to rely on others but is that always the best way?  I propose that we need a balance of independent dependence, choosing to ask a friend to help us carry the heavy burden that can often cause our hips and shoulders to bruise—there’s that pack analogy creeping back in…  What are you carrying on your own?  How connected are you to your family, friends, or community?  Who have you allowed to know the real you, the you that sometimes admits, “This pack might be just too much for me”?  As much as I love seeing community support one another, I’m even more inclined to point humanity to the One who loves and knows us more than we could ever imagine—His Hebrew name is Yeshua and you’ll find Him in the Bible, especially in the Gospels—the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (you might find Matthew 11:28-30 especially fitting).  Thank you, Davon, for being real, raw, and honest, setting an example for every person who could learn something about lightening their load.


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