If you need to dig out of a rut using the same types of Sunday School lessons and formatting class identically, do something a bit differently and have fun in the process! There is a lot that can be learned from the great outdoors, and the principles of God’s creation are worthwhile even if you cannot access a trailhead or take a class field trip. Of course, if you can devise a way, taking students on a hike, or even just a walk nearby church campus, would be awesome. You could always take a “virtual” tour with pictures and sound effects, too…either way, though, there are many lessons a hike can impart. Consider….
Having a map. Knowing where you are going is rather essential on a hike. A map will show a broad view of the whole landscape. As Christians, what is our map? The Bible, of course. God’s word is our guide to life and big picture image.
Focusing one step at a time…and up ahead. When walking through a rocky or leafy wood, it is important to watch immediate footing so that you do not trip. However, neglecting to look up may throw off overall direction. Not only that, but pausing to admire surroundings is what makes wilderness exploring so fun and meaningful. In the same way, we must pay attention to each moment of our days here. But we also need to stop now and then and just be, appreciating our surroundings and looking ahead for God’s next direction.
Trusting the trail…even when it’s tough. In C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian, the traveling young Pevensie children miss Aslan’s direction because they opt for what seems an easier route, and actually wind up off course. Sometimes we are tempted to veer off the prescribed path for what might appear to be a shortcut or easier way. Usually, though, this winds up leading us out of the ideal area and often steers us on a longer and trickier detour. Sometimes, God’s directions might seem hard or confusing. We want to lean on our own understanding. But this can only lead to confusion and pain.
Ask for help when needed. God has given us wonderful abilities and senses. But we are not meant to do everything on our own, and we truly cannot. It is safest to go hiking with a buddy. Even still, there are times when it is necessary to ask a fellow traveler about a direction. God will always place people along our paths to point us in the right way.
It’s about the journey. Wandering along a mountainside or climbing a peak is not usually done with a specific destination or end in mind. The purpose is adventure, journey, exploration…Life can reflect this. As Christians, yes, our ultimate destination is Heaven (just like a hiker will eventually make it back to a fort or outset). But we also must accept and embrace the life we have now. We are on a grand and glorious journey with and for our Heavenly King.
How great He is…being outdoors allows us to just enjoy our surroundings and consider how spectacular God’s power is. People work hard to protect God’s earth…we ought to enjoy it, too!
Trust and accept…when hiking, there are times that are difficult. There are moments when it is tempting to stop and freeze. But usually these can be overcome by trusting that our feet will find the way. In life, we trust God to provide the way, confidently following Him and knowing
He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. -Psalm 91:11-12
This is only the beginning. Taking students outside, talking about nature, or best of all going somewhere as a group can all have potential for great conversation points. Discussing prior experiences can help, as well. Some insights seem trite or cliché, while others are truly poignant. And as always, the points we emphasize will vary according to age group and individuals. But when we look to the mountains, may our eyes be ever up unto Heaven…