“The mountain heights and rocky fastnesses have ever been the friendly refuge of God’s people when oppressed and hunted by their enemies. For hundreds of years the Waldenses worshiped God amid the mountain solitudes, and there defied the armies of kings and emperors. On their rocky heights, in sight of their enemies, they sang the praise of Him who made the hills; and no opposing power could silence their hymns of lofty cheer:
“For the strength of the hills we bless thee, Our God, our fathers’ God! Thou hast made thy children mighty By the touch of the mountain sod. “Thou hast fixed our ark of refuge Where the spoiler’s foot ne’er trod; For the strength of the hills we bless thee, Our God, our fathers’ God!” –E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Feb. 2, 1882, Among the Mountains, par. 3; citing Felicia Hemans, The Hymn of the Vaudois Mountaineers.
Come away with me in imagination, to these high places of the earth. Let us drink in the strength and power revealed in our Father’s house, “where the rocks yield founts of courage, struck forth as by Thy rod.”
“To such retreats Jesus often led His disciples. With the beautiful scenes of nature, He associated lessons of divine truth. Afar from the bustle and strife of the haunts of men, He strove to turn the hearts of rich and poor from the perishable treasures of earth to the unfading glories of the world to come.” Among the Mountains, par. 5.
“The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh [the Sanctuary]… and in His temple doth every one speak of His glory.” Psalm 29:8, 9. “
“The groves were God’s first temples;” and still He speaks to us in the fields, the forests, and the mountains, as verily as in the house of prayer.” “God’s people still need seasons of quiet and reflection–seasons in which the soul may undisturbed commune with its Maker. The great work which has been committed to our hands cannot be best carried forward in excitement and confusion. That calm deliberation so essential to sound judgment can often be best secured in some quiet retreat where the thoughtful mind and pure heart can be prompted by the still, small voice. These forest and mountain homes have great blessings for those who are wearied physically or mentally. Wisely has an American poet counseled:
“If thou art worn and hard beset, With trials that thou wouldst forget. Go to the fields and hills; no tears. Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.” Among the Mountains, par. 10; citing William C. Bryant, A Forest Hymn; and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Sunrise on the Hills.
“The morning sun pours its new glories upon these mountains of God, while in the valley, mists and clouds are rolling like the billows of the sea. In the distance they appear white as the drifted snow in the noonday sun. Soon they roll swiftly up the mountain steeps, until they reach the summit, and shut out from us the bright rays of the sun. A few moments, and all is clear again, and the sunlight rests on the bald mountain tops. There is enough to feast the imagination in the scenes of nature. Surely, no one who loves the sublime and the beautiful could be lonely among these grand old mountains.” Among the Mountains, par. 2.
As we ponder this vast scene of grand beauty, we spot a man sitting on a rock, overlooking the hillside and meadow. He has already seen us, and gives a friendly wave. Let’s go see who this might be.
As we approach, we see a little black book in his hand. He has been reading from Isaiah: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence [tower] shall be the munitions [fortifications/covert of ambush] of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the king in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah 33:14-17.
Here is a woodsman. His leather hunting boots are well-worn. His pants and shirt are wool. Beside him sits a walking stick, a brimmed hat, and a Duluth-style pack.
In his pants pockets are a folding knife, a butane lighter, a metal match, and a waterproof match case with lightly-greased cotton balls on top of the matches. One shirt pocket holds his little black Book; the other, a wad of “old-man’s beard” lichen, and a few slivers of pitch-wood. In his knapsack is:
-a sharp, expertly-ground hatchet with sheath–2 lbs.
-a #10 tin can with bail–0.7 lbs.
-a 2-quart juice bottle 1/4 full of water–1.5 lbs.
-a wool coat–3 lbs.
-a warm fur hat–0.5 lbs.
-extra wool socks–0.4 lbs.
-a small tarp–1 lb.
-several bale-strings and parachute cord–0.5 lbs.
-a small flashlight with an extra battery–0.3 lbs.
-a wooden spoon
-a couple plastic of shopping bags
-a head-net for mosquitos
-a couple of needles and thread–0.2 lbs.
He is planning to be out for a couple days, so he has:
-a couple pounds of dry food: rolled oats, dried fruit, lentils, a few nuts, and a little bottle of salt–2.2 lbs.
The rest he will gather– mostly greens and berries.
-a plastic ground sheet–0.5 lbs.
-a down sleeping bag is stuffed loosely in the top of the pack–3 lbs.
-foam torso-pad, curled around the inside of the pack as cushion/stiffener–0.4 lbs.
-extra set of “base layer” clothing–1 lb.
The pack itself weighs a pinch less than 3 pounds. All together, his pack weighs 22 pounds. His equipment is durable, and meets his needs nicely. His wool clothing, boots, down sleeping bag, and the pack itself, are the most expensive items.
If he makes some of these items himself from scrounged and/or purchased fabric, the overall cost for the whole setup is substantially reduced, while his life is broadened. Applying the savings toward tools and more supplies puts him in a position to help equip others, and also allows him to create designs directly suited to the needs at hand. He is just out on a short scouting trip, traveling in comfort; but if necessary, he could start rebuilding civilization from scratch.
It isn’t the gear that makes the woodsman. The tools and supplies make life easier, and increase his productivity, but he could find more primitive substitutes for each item. In other circumstances, he would vary his selection of items.
This man’s experiences are interesting and varied. He can build, weld, garden, sew, cook, preserve food for winter, and fix machinery. He’s worked in logging and ranching; run bulldozers and dump-trucks; built and repaired fences; hunted down troublesome bears and coyotes. He studies history, law, economics, physiology, and natural medicine. His life has revolved around fixing problems, and improving conditions.
Jesus’ “hours of happiness were found when alone with nature and with God. Whenever it was His privilege, He turned aside from the scene of His labor, to go into the fields, to meditate in the green valleys, to hold communion with God on the mountainside or amid the trees of the forest. The early morning often found Him in some secluded place, meditating, searching the Scriptures, or in prayer. From these quiet hours He would return to His home to take up His duties again, and to give an example of patient toil.” Desire of Ages, 89.6.
“He gathered stores of scientific knowledge from nature. He studied the life of plants and animals, and the life of man. From His earliest years He was possessed of one purpose; He lived to bless others. For this He found resources in nature; new ideas of ways and means flashed into His mind as He studied plant life and animal life. Continually He was seeking to draw from things seen illustrations by which to present the living oracles of God. . . . Thus to Jesus the significance of the Word and the works of God was unfolded, as He was trying to understand the reason of things.” Desire of Ages, 70.2.
Likewise, we can learn of God as we observe His work, and labor together with Him to bless the world.
As we continue to study how to Be Prepared, let us examine one of God’s commands: “In all things that I have said unto you be circumspect.” Exodus 23:13.
And again: “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15, 16.
What does it mean to be circumspect? “Circum” means “around,” as in circumference. “Spect” means “to look,” as in inspect and spectacle. It means to look in all directions; to watch for, and guard against, danger.
Last month, in our story of the blizzard, we saw what happened when we failed to be circumspect enough. We failed to bring enough clothing for emergencies. We failed to stay at our friends’ house where we could have waited out the storm. But our host was being circumspect, watching the weather and helping us out of trouble. And as the result of the incident, we saw the importance of being more circumspect.
Prepared For What?
What are we prepared for? Most likely, we are ready for the things we expect. We are usually ready for the sun to go down in the evening, for it to come up in the morning; ready to go to work or school, ready to come home, ready to follow habitual routines. Some things, we tend to be unprepared for. For example, a traffic accident. We can wear a seatbelt, and try to be circumspect as we drive, but when we suddenly get hit “out of nowhere,” or unexpectedly lose control on a patch of black ice, we are unprepared. It is our duty to be circumspect, to seek to fore-see and avoid evil. This is our part in cooperating with God, when we pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13.
“Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” Ezekiel 38:7. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12.
Watching For What?
First of all, we must watch for orders and instructions from our Captain. The greatest danger in the world is the wrath of the Lamb. But it can pass over harmlessly, if we prepare. We should watch for opportunities to gain useful knowledge; for ways to help others; for dangers that threaten others, that they are unaware of. We should watch for ways to stop trouble before it happens, and for ways to escape dangers that we cannot stop.
–Am I living where God wants me to live, or do I need to move?
–Am I doing a type of work that pleases God, or am I compromising? Do I need to find a different line of work?
–Am I a missionary for God, or a mercenary of the world?
–Are my friends leading me closer to God, or do I need to separate from them?
–Am I learning how to be independent of the world, so that I can serve God freely?
–Am I out of debt?
–Am I dependent on the government to supply my daily bread and housing?
–Am I taking good care of my health? Do I see clearly where the line is between God’s one method of practicing the healing arts, and the deceptive sorceries of Babylon? Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 443.1.
–Am I skilled in caring for myself and others who may be sick or injured?
–If my car breaks down, am I ready? If gasoline/diesel becomes unavailable or prohibitively expensive, what is my plan?
–What will it be like if the electricity is out for a week? For a month? Longer? What will I need most?
–If the phones and/or internet quit working, what effect will that have? Can I navigate without GPS?
–Is my water supply safe and reliable?
–How long will I have water after the electricity goes out? How will I get more?
–Will the sewer keep working without power, or will the bathtub fill with sewage when the pumps quit?
–How will I bathe and wash my clothes, if the washer, dryer, or water heater quit?
–Is my food healthful and natural, and pleasing to God? Am I growing a garden? How much of my food do I grow and preserve?
–Am I accustomed to using food from nature, such as grain that needs to be ground, vegetables and fruits that must be sorted, washed, trimmed, stored, etc.?
–How much food will I lose if the refrigerator and freezer quit?
–Can I cook without electricity? Without propane/natural gas?
–Can I heat my home with wood? Do I have a good supply of firewood? Am I experienced in cutting firewood? If we cannot drive, can we still get firewood?
–If I must leave home because of some emergency, where can I go? How will I get there?
–Am I comfortable walking long distances? What can I do to increase my range, speed, and load-bearing abilities?
–If I must spend the night out-of-doors unexpectedly, how will I stay warm and dry?
–Can I build a safe, effective fire quickly and reliably in wet and windy conditions? Without purchased consumable fire starters? Am I presently carrying a fire starting device (or three) in my pocket?
–Am I likely to get lost? Do I understand mapping, direction finding, and basic navigation?
–Am I comfortable in nature, or is it unfamiliar and scary? At night? –Can I cope with dangerous or annoying insects?
–Am I accustomed to the habits of wild animals? Am I familiar with their normal, harmless behavior? Do I have wisdom to avoid creating dangerous encounters, and to recognize dangerous behavior?
–Do I recognize tracks, and other signs of human and animal activity?
–Can I stop aggressive dogs from harming me or those who need my help? How?
–Am I accustomed to working with my hands, with natural materials? Can I cut and chop and carve safely? Do I keep my tools sharp, lubricated, clean? What tools do I have, and what tools do I need most?
–Am I orderly? Do I misplace or lose things often? How can I be better organized and develop better habits?
–Am I able to help others who are having difficulty, or must I be helped? Or both? How?
Every one of these questions has a direct bearing on our topic of preparedness. “Determine to know the worst of your case. . . . Deal truly with your own soul. Remember that a church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing will Jesus present to His Father.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 264.1. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippines 3:13, 14.
May God bless us each as we examine ourselves, praying for wisdom, strength, and courage to act in obedience to Christ’s call, “Come up higher!” Remember that His strength is made perfect in weakness.
I look forward to exploring many of these questions with you. Until next time, trust in God, keep your matches dry, and your cutters sharp!
Written by Christopher Ficsher, www.ctfischerknives.com
Reprinted with permission from, The Sabbath Herald, Joel Allen, Editor.