I don’t know exactly where we were but we had pitched our tents at the foot of a luscious bushy mountain in what felt like the very heart of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Resting around a campfire with African baboons barking in the background we began to share stories of how God had individually led us to this Christian Surfers Africa Leadership Training program.
It was stunning as the fading sun welcomed in a fresh full moon and we sat, awestruck by God’s goodness and how much beauty we had experienced that afternoon hiking up a mountain saturated with waterfalls and swimming holes. The entire scene adorned with glittering light that swirled on the tall walls of rock that surrounded us as it reflected off the water.
Our orientation week couldn’t have started off more perfect.
And then it got real.
“We’ve got a 3am start, so get some rest” came the instruction from our Leader.
In the pitch black dark we were packing down our tents, loading up the car and we driving, away from that pristine beauty.
We drove back to JBay, and it baffled me. “I thought we were going away for a week!?”
We were told to grab our backpacks, make sure we had water and we were each handed two cans of baked beans in tomatoes sauce. “What the!?” ok.
We knew nothing of where we were going, only that we had to walk. The only certainty was a destination and two cans of baked beans.
Meh, how bad can it be?
Excitement grew as we stepped onto the beach at 6.00am and were kissed by a bursting orange and yellow sunrise from behind the grey clouds. So we walked, very merrily along the beach talking away like old mates.
As the first hour disappeared so did the energy in our conversations. It was very real that we would be walking for a long while still; all we could see before us and all we could see behind us was where the sky and sand said a taunting hello.
As the second hour passed, this only became more challenging.
It was about now where I began noticing the parallels in life.
Sometimes we are called to walk down long challenging paths in our lives. We know that we have to walk it and we are asked only to trust that we are walking a purposed road, that the direction is right and that the path will lead to somewhere or something.
We get excited about it, we have energy and we are enthusiastic and we share that with people around us
As long periods of time goes by, we start to get quieter and we begin to contemplate the road we are on. We look around and we look at the journey and we get a sense of purpose but as we continue to walk with nothing tangible on the horizon we become more and more challenged.
We start to struggle and even wrestle with our reason; we wander if there is any purpose to our committed journey at all.
However, there was something beautiful as I contended with this in my thoughts as we walked.
There was a large pod of dolphins that swam up close up along the coast and they traveled with us for the most part of our journey.
This was a mighty reminder that no matter how near or far we are called to walk along the various paths in our lives, we are never alone.
God is with us.
As I focused my attention more on the dolphins and less on my struggling, I began to think that we are definitely closer than when we started and so surely our destination is just around the corner.
And I noticed that parallel in life too; that if we look at how far we have already come we can only be closer to where we are going. And this brings the hope that today nothing may have changed but our relief might be just around the corner.
Tomorrow everything can change. And so we keep walking. Hopeful.
But here’s what amazed me the most;
After 3 hours and 15Km later we arrived at the river mouth. Our relief had come and that journey made this worth it. We rested and it was awesome.
Then all of a sudden, we were prepping for our next adventure; A 3Km Stand Up Paddle Board to our next camping location. Which started off with just as much uncertainty as the 15-kilometer beach hike… as well as a few cans of baked beans.
I found that life is just like that.
We hope in tomorrow and that is a beautiful gift and then tomorrow comes but it is never a destination. We rest only for a brief moment because that somewhere or something is not the end; it is only the beginning of the next adventure.
I found from the experience that it is not about when I will arrive at the end or when things will change but that the importance is in how I carry myself today and how what I am walking through now, is preparing me for the next adventure that may or may not begin tomorrow.
And despite the level of difficulty or the amount of time I have been walking down the same old road, I certainly have this one thing; that I am never alone… and maybe a few cans of baked beans.
From the shores of South Africa,