When I was in high school and a freshman in college, I worked at Camp BaYouCa, a wonderful Christian camp on 80 acres in upstate New York. It was there that I became a Christian. And it was there that the way I think about serving God was indellibly shaped by Russ Warner, the camp director. Boss' way of ministering remains a powerful image in my mind that my congregation knows I refer to often. In addition to his powerful example, there are many of Boss' phrases that have stayed with me. One of them is "You need to take a walk in the woods with Jesus."
I did that often at BaYouCa, down the various trails, each colored-coded so that a hiker wouldn't get lost. Taking a walk in the woods with Jesus was Boss' way of challenging you to calm down, to think, to pray, to ponder life anew in light of God's creation. It always worked wonders in reshaping my perspective.
It is a phrase I have repeated many times. Sometimes I say it to Vanessa because she knows the code. Other times I have used it to joke about how I am struggling and I know it. When I was a senior in college, I wrote "You need to take a walk in the woods with Jesus" on a sermon evaluation in preaching class. The student whose sermon I was evaluating had just preached an entire sermon on an obscure OT passage that I - to this day - believed he had chosen simply so he could repeat the word "Shittim" many times. I don't know if he ended up taking my advice, but he needed to!
Yesterday, I took a walk in the woods with Jesus. My dog was there too (I like her more in the country). I looked at barren trees waving in the wind. I cracked and crunched the frozen creek that runs through the forest (that's what my kids call it). And I thought and prayed and pondered and rested. And it worked wonders in reshaping my perspective.