Woody and Scott have been friends since grade school. She is two years older, but she always had time for Scott. Woody had graduated from college a few years earlier, but now that Scott finally graduated, they were on the adventure that they had talked about for a long time. Both were pretty active hikers, so hiking on the Sierra Nevada Trail was the dream vacation for both of them. One particular highlight of the journey was being able to watch the sunrise from one of the highest peaks in the area. It was so high, that to get there in time to see the sunrise, they had to start out when it was still very dark.
Since Woody had been in the workforce for a couple years and had a good income, she was able to bring along an item that would make the dark part of their hike a lot easier. She had been able to find a set of night vision goggles on Ebay for pretty cheap and was eager to try them out. While Scott didn’t have a set, he would have to listen to Woody’s instruction, and their journey would go much quicker and safer.
I think its important to note how close Scott and Woody were. Woody was the stable one, not a lot of glitter and glamor, but always made the right decisions. Kind and quiet. Scott was nearly the opposite, one of those chaps that always had to do things his own way. Not bad hearted mind you, just stubborn. Woody always was able to look past his stubbornness and see the good in him. Many did not. Throughout Scotts life, Woody was the one person he could always count on while licking his wounds from another misadventure. She was always there with encouragement and always knew just what to say to get him back on his feet. As soon as his ego was restored, he was back on to another wild idea.
This hike was one thing that, these seemingly opposite friends, had looked forward to for a long time. Their reasons were different. For Woody it was more spiritual and for Scott it was a conquest. Still, their different motivations would lead them to the same point at sunrise. Watching a sunrise from a mountain peak is quite a breathtaking sight, regardless of motive.
The morning started well. Both were packed with everything they would need the night before, so it was a matter of a quick breakfast and they were on their way. Woody was playing with her night vision goggles and they worked great. She could see everything just fine. Scott grumbled a bit that he didn’t have a set, but he was really glad that they would make the hike a little easier. They had worked out a system so that he would get her directions to avoid any mishaps. If he got too far away, he wouldn’t hear her instruction, so he had to stay close. Hiking in the dark is dangerous in mountain lion country, not to mention rocks, loose stone and trees. Still confident, the pair headed out for the prize.
The trip started out pretty good, a few light mishaps as they got their signals coordinated, but they were getting the hang of it, and it was going smoother. It was going so smooth, that Scott started getting a little over confident. Woody was giving him constant signals to warn him of danger. As often happens, Scotts stubborn streak began to show. He began to ignore her advice and started to wander a bit. He’d stumble over a rock and move back close for a little while, but would soon wander again. After a while he had convinced himself that he was sick of listening to Woody always telling him what to do. After all, he had gotten this far ok, why did he need her anyway? So Scott began veering off, Woody’s voice getting more faint as he found his own way. He was glad when he couldn’t hear her anymore, he was so sick of being told to” do this, don’t do that,” he just didn’t want to hear it. He still liked her of course, but being watched over was too much. After all, he was a good hiker. His mind began to wander to many of the other hikes they had been on. He even had to help her a few times too. Well, maybe she didn’t need the help, but he enjoyed the feeling of helping out.
All of a sudden the rocks that he was walking on gave way and he slid down the trail ten feet. Even in the dark, he knew how awful that could have ended. His heart was racing and he could barely keep air in his lungs! He seen the danger of not hearing Woody’s advice. He had a choice, he could keep hiking his own way, or humble himself and go back to Woody who could see and warn him of the danger. He knew the danger of going ahead, but he was too prideful to go back to Woody, so he decided that the problem was the trail. After all, being on the trail didn’t prevent him from harm and even in the beginning he thought Woody gave him a few bad tips too. Scott decided that there are a lot of different ways to the peak. He didn’t have to listen to anybody. Of course there was that little problem of not being able to see anything. Well, he thought that he could feel his way around ok. Heck, he’s been hiking so much that he probably has a sixth sense about these things, he will just get a feeling on which way to go.
So, how do you think it went for Scott? Scott ended up in a dark valley while Woody was waiting for him on the peak. Scott wasn’t there, he didn’t see it, but the sunrise was glorious without him.
So often the world views the Bible as a book of rules. If you follow the rules, you get to go to heaven, while rulebreakers go to hell. God just made up these rules and we have to do what he says or we are going to receive a penalty. Somehow that has morphed into giving people the idea that being a good citizen is all it takes to go to heaven. If you ask the average person on the street, they will tell you that they believe that they’re going to heaven because basically they are a good person, haven’t murdered anyone, and aren’t Adolph Hitler. That is being a good Christian to most Americans. Good citizen= good Christian. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that. Absolutely nowhere. The Bible says that you can’t be good enough. Who did Jesus bust on the most? The people who thought that they were good enough. He really cussed them out.
That’s one of the penalties of biblical illiteracy. People who know nothing about it pass on plenty of information. We’ve all heard, “God helps those who help themselves.” That is not only not in the Bible, but the opposite is true. It just doesn’t say that at all. The Bible says that Jesus picked up the weak and broken people, the screw-ups, the people that society (the literal self righteous) had thrown away. They believed in Him and He rescued them.
In our story, Scott isn’t following the rules. He is being a bad citizen. He liked the concept of Woody helping, but not the instruction. He chose to not follow the rules that would have helped him but chose instead to do it his own way with his own rationalization. How many of us today choose our own path, throwing off the confines of that oppressive system, thinking we can do it on our own? We like the concept of God or some “Higher Power” , but He or She better not get too close to us or try to have any impact on our lives or behavior. Back off God, I’ll call you if I need you.
So what does the Bible really say? It says that the God of the universe, the Creator, wants to have a relationship with you. Not just theoretically, corporately you, but personally you. Not as others see you, or judge you, or try to define you by putting you in some box. Not that fake, in control person, that you show the world, but just the plain old flawed you. That is what matters most to Him. What we see as rules are there to guide us to stay in close relationship with Him. People bristle at the idea of sin, even the concept, as an old fashioned way of life that needs to be crushed. God doesn’t bully anyone or have an ego problem. God hates sin, not because it breaks a rule, but because it moves us further from God. Sin hurts our journey with God. No one sins and gets closer to Jesus. God hates anything that moves us away from Him. He loves us that much, even if we don’t understand it. Your understanding of danger doesn’t mean that isn’t there. Don’t think of your time on earth as 80 years of 30 minute sitcoms, its an 80 year journey. Its a time that our experiences can bring us closer to God if we choose. Its not a test and at the end God has a checklist, giving you a pass/fail grade. Stealing a candy bar in 3rd grade won’t be noted on the test. The Bible says that in the end, our eternity is based on whether He knew us personally, not on what good things we’ve done. That’s in Matthew 7: 21-23, look it up yourself.
When Woody was telling Scott the hazards around him and warning him of the danger, she wasn’t making up some rules to control him, she wanted what was best for him. She knew what would happen if he didn’t follow her instructions, she could see it clearly. She begged him but he felt he knew better. He followed his feelings and wouldn’t soften his self determination. No one was going to tell him what to do or be restricted by her orders. His way was more fun and he didn’t answer to anyone. Scott quickly found himself lost and alone. Like most of us, he wouldn’t admit it. He just made up stuff to justify his position. Still, regardless of his outside blustering, inside he knew he was alone. No amount of made up, self generated spirituality is going to change that. A god you just make up on your own, isn’t much of a god. Same goes for made up spirituality. If you make it up, its just made up.
The saddest part about the whole story is that if Scott would have let down his pride and called out to Woody, she would have been able to rescue him. She was willing, able, and ready. She wouldn’t force him, he has a free will to choose. It didn’t have to end that way. Scott had the final decision and it ended very badly for him.
So do you think Woody was bullying him around for her own ego, trying to oppress him? No, I think she was good hearted and she just wanted to enjoy being with her friend. She wanted what was best for him. God wants what best for you too. He doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you. Sin, as He defines it takes you further away from Him. Humans redefining sin isn’t going to change it. His definition of sin is all that matters, not yours or the Government or the media. You won’t always understand what He is having you go through, but you have to trust and obey. Most importantly, God wants to be close to you. Adam walked with God, not because it was a perceived rule, but because it was a good relationship. Sin messed it up. The first thing Adam did was hide, the relationship was fractured. In our walk with God, sin messes it up too, but we don’t need to stay separated from Him. God doesn’t hold a grudge against you because you messed up, just call out to Him and He’ll bring you back on the path with Him. Jesus made that possible, thank Him. Some days I mess up so bad that I cant believe that He even wants me around. That’s love , I guess.
He had a whole bunch of people write a book about Himself and His relationship with us. Everything isn’t in there, but enough for you to get to know Him and see how much He loves you. If you get in a good relationship with Him, He’ll tell you more, I promise. That’s what the Bible really says. Don’t be gullible, study it yourself. Don’t wait, start and expand that relationship today. That beautiful sunrise is going to happen, where will you be? Watching it from above or in a dark valley? Choose wisely.