A hockey player friend of mine in Boston enjoys climbing mountains as a hobby. One of his bucket-list challenges is to do a “14er, or Fourteener.” He loves to go to Colorado on vacation and tackle one of the many 14,000 foot mountains, realizing that any of them are a dangerous endeavor. But he loves the thrill of a serious obstacle and finding a way to overcome it.
At lower levels, he told me the stress is not too bad. The air has enough oxygen, the trails are clearly marked, and the climb is not too difficult. But the story changes when you get near the top. The air is much thinner, the climb is steeper and potentially treacherous, and the trail is harder to follow. At any moment a fog, wind, or snowstorm can materialize, reducing visibility to near zero. Seasoned climbers know if you get lost up there, you are in big trouble.
Years ago thoughtful mountain climbers decided to establish a way to mark the trail up through the high terrain. Every ten yards, they built a pile of stones that would be recognizable even in the worst storm conditions. The hope was that even in fog or dense snow, hikers could find the trail and stay on course. These trail markers are called “cairns,” and they have saved the lives of many adventurers over the years, including my friend, who can vouch for their helpfulness.
It reminds me of my friend Mike Durning. He and his wife Marie recently transitioned from serving with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in New Jersey the past 29 years to a new assignment at Zion Bible College in Haverhill, MA. I believe Mike and Marie are called by God to be cairns – trail markers – to point people to Himself. By the consistency of their words and actions, they have been able to show students, parents, faculty, and neighbors the way to God’s forgiveness.
Read 1 Timothy 4:9-16.
Many of our family, friends, and colleagues are stumbling along through life’s foggy, ominous shadows. They need someone to show them the way. What can we do to point them to God? Here are three examples I have observed in the Durning’s that can serve as “cairns” for you to emulate, or leave as trail markers:
1. Be a L.A.F. Deliverer. Mike and Marie treated people as if they were made in God’s image (because they are). They modeled and extended love, acceptance, and forgiveness to everyone they dealt with, with no questions asked. On campus or in their home, people mattered to them.
2. Be a Truth Teller. Mike and Marie let people know that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to a right relationship with God (Acts 4:12). They were honest about sin and its consequences (Romans 3:23) and that Jesus is the only Savior able to overcome sin (1 Timothy 2:5). They found creative ways to tell people that God loved them that made sense individually.
3. Be a Hope Giver. Mike and Marie let people know that the Christian worldview makes sense and is reasonable and sustainable. They showed students how the Lord gives meaning and hope to life and provides a pattern and contentment for a life well lived.
The Durning’s “set an example in everything they did by doing what is good” (Titus 2:7). Will you follow their example? If so, others will remember how you live, and in time, you could become one of their “cairns,” pointing them to God. Serve globally. Point people to Christ!
Love is a verb,