Complimentary Story
   My wife, Terry and I just spent a few days in one of our favorite places in God’s great garden. We back-packed into a remote national forest area, in northern Wisconsin, to do a little trout fishing and a lot of enjoying God’s creation. It is always a good trip in, as we descend from a high elevation down into the river valley below.  I said good, not easy, the anticipation of the first glimpse of what we call, “the secret lake,” seems to numb the reality of the growing weight of our packs.  Arriving, we take it all in and thank God for this beautiful place before we hike out to get a second pack each, but lighter than the first. We used to do it all in one trip but being over age 65 has taught us to do two trips which takes a little over two hours. 

   Totally packed in, we set up camp, the small tent goes up, the mats go down and the double sleeping bag is put in. This past spring the temperature went down in the 20s.  We needed the double bag and every single stich of clothing that night and we hope the forecast of low 50s the next two nights is correct! Next we dig a small fire pit in the same hidden place we have for many years and always return the look to normal. When we pull out, only the fleeting impression of our tent will remain in the pine needle carpet. Next, we look for downed dry wood, dig the latrine and hike over to a spring and hand pump water though a filter into a fold-up 2.5-gallon container.  Our little 16”X16” table goes up and the two new 2.5# camp chairs are set out. The lantern, flashlights camp stove and such can wait. Two hours to set up camp and we are ready… are the trout? 

   We caught two brook trout that evening and our possession limit over the next two days before pulling out.  We also went chaga mushroom hunting. It is a medicinal mushroom with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and other healing abilities. We were successful finding 3 chagas weighing about 20 pounds total.  We saw many warblers who came to sing to us and hang out, welcoming us to their living room.  A little red-backed salamander crawled into Terry’s hand to say hello, a barred owl flew by, at our height and only feet away. They are an owl that you can talk to with the “who cooks, who cooks for you” call.  When you hear them do it, try to mimic it and sometimes we have had them land near us to talk for a while. We saw ducks, geese and listened to the wolves talk before the night hunt. The funniest visitor, to me, came about 2:00 in the morning. Terry thinks they are amazingly beautiful but not funny because no matter the depth of sleep, you are going to wake up. Two trumpeter swans landed on the little lake by our camp. If you have never heard a trumpeter sound off in a valley next to your tent... It is about the same as standing next to a semi-truck when it blasts its air horn. Terry’s head hits the top of the tent, startled awake, and I am useless because all I can do is laugh. Trumpeters have always made me laugh.

  The picture above is from one of the few access points to fish our secret lake. Terry asked me to take this picture and write about the spiritual meaning of our view and of this place.

  Proverbs 27:19 reads, “As water reflects a face, so a mans heart reflects the man.” The Hebrew word for “heart” is widely used for the feelings, the will, the intellect and for the center of anything.  Look at the reflection in the above picture.  Everything in the reflection is in the actual scene above it.  It may not be quite as crisp but it is an unmistakable duplication. 

   Have you ever done a fearless moral inventory? What are your feelings concerning your spouse, your boss, co-workers, parents, children, church, politicians, people who disagree with you, people you like and dislike? How do you feel about yourself? That’s just a start. Work on a list of your feelings then start to identify your thoughts, the way you think and the things you believe. This combined list can be quite extensive, so don’t rush it. This list is an identification list of who you are, the very center and core of you. This list actually directs your behavior. You can ask people you know for help with your list. According to our Scripture verse, you have always been reflecting it. Yikes! It’s scary because of its truth, but the fact remains that some people have remained our friends despite our character defects. So, what do you think of your reflection? The first time I identified my core beliefs, who I was and what I was reflecting to those around me I didn’t care for a lot of it. Some of me was pretty ugly.  I wanted to reflect something beautiful, like the picture. Perhaps you do too, but how can we do that?

   2 Cor. 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” I assume you know Jesus as your Savior, but if you don’t you need to begin there, confessing your sin and need of Jesus to forgive you.  He died in your place, for your sins, and all you need to do is believe that and accept it.  Many people do this first part, but their behavior stays pretty much the same. When we turn to the Lord, believe and trust in Him, we can then see God’s Word and understand its meaning and purpose for our life. 

   I’ll add Romans 12:2 which states that we are transformed by the renewal of our mind. As we study God’s Word, we can easily see areas of thinking, believing and behaving that don’t match up with our list, the reflection of who we truly are. In those areas we need to put Scripture into our mind and practice it until it is who we are. I used to reflect anger when people disagreed with me or irritated me. God’s Word says, (Proverbs 16:32), “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” Ecclesiastes 7:8-9, “The end of a mater is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” I memorized these passages and then practiced, practiced and practiced until they became the way I thought, reacted and behaved.  

   As I did this Scripture memory and practice in regard to changing thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that were not Godly, something amazing began to happen. The veil over God’s Word was removed, as I read Scripture, verses would stand out on the page and I knew God was talking to me and directing my steps. Many specific verses I wrote down in a pocket verse pack. These were specific to my list of character defects and behaviors that needed to change.  For every defect in my character I have at least one Bible verse that would reflect a better and Godly way to think and behave.  

   None of this is easy, like the trek into the secret lake or the trek out you will read about soon. But it is so worth the effort.  I have been practicing my pack of verses for 28 years, some of my new thoughts and behaviors come easy now, some require effort and some require endurance, patience and the help of others.  When we work at being transformed by renewing our mind with God’s Word, we find that we are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  In not too long,  the people in our lives see a change in us, they see the reflection changing in the very center of our being.  The way we think and behave may not be perfect but the reflection is unmistakably the likeness of Christ with ever increasing glory. A reflection that is worth all the effort and help of others it takes to get there!

   There is no better pot of coffee than one brewed in the wilderness and sipped on next to a warm morning campfire in the company of the one human being you love the most.  There is a sadness as we prepare to leave this beautiful place, far away from the turmoil of today’s world. The welcoming birds are looking on, a blue winged teal swims only steps away, a red squirrel sits on a stump just feet away, they all seem to wonder why we don’t stay.
   We know it is time to go back, for me to write and for Terry to draw. We need to do the things we feel God has given us to do. Something looms ahead as we pack up, a mile up steep and rugged terrain. We have done it before, it is always brutal. The first trip is with the heaviest packs plus a carry bag. I do every-day hip stretches but my hip muscles burn with a level 7 pain, our heart rates are too high because of the exertion, it’s 60 degrees but we are soaked in sweat within minutes.  We can only go 20 to 50 steps at a time without resting and readjusting our packs. We switch carry bags and at some point.  Terry carries them both so I have both hands to use the hand lifts on my pack.  We encourage each other with the memories of the trip down below and frequently saying “this sure isn’t for sissies” and the reality statement “we won’t be able to do this someday.”   We reach the top where our vehicle is parked, drink some water and head back down.  Only two lite packs remain and our fishing gear.  We are one trout short of our limit.  We look at each other — well,  we are two fishermen. One last cast. The sun is high and the odds are low. The limit is reached as Terry reals in a nice brook trout.  I know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow.  Smoking trout for several nice meals kept in the freezer for this winter. 

   This trip out is better, I am only at a pain level of 4-5.  We talk about how to rearrange weight or other equipment we can get that weighs less. All of our discussion is about returning and what can we do to make this happen for as long as possible. Why?  Because the destination is worth it. 

   In our effort to reflect the image of Jesus our Lord, to take our thoughts captive and transform them to His thoughts and practice, practice, practice until we begin to think and behave in ways that may not be perfect but are unmistakably the likeness of Christ, we will encounter the up-hill battle.  Let me encourage you. The destination is worth all the effort it takes.

Lynn Fredrick is the author of Stand Firm. A short book on using the divine power of God to transform your life. 
 W8756 Townline Road
Ladysmith, WI  54848

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