The outdoors is a sweaty place, especially if you live in Australia. The Australian summer heat is nothing to take lightly. Yet, the outdoors can be a sacred ground for encountering God and experiencing personal growth.
Growing up, I was very shy and timid. I wouldn’t leave my parents’ side around strangers. I was terrified of public speaking, to the point where I was shaking the whole way through my first 10-minute presentation.
I felt as though I was a bird, created to fly, but stuck in a cage. I assumed the cage door was shut and impossible to open. I felt trapped for so many years, waiting for someone to open the door and lead me out or give me permission to find my own way out.
Near the end of high school, I began to relax a bit more and find more certainty in myself and the world around me, but it wasn’t until I got involved in Outdoor Education that my life really began to change.
For Spring Break, I went on a week-long kayaking trip in Florida. There were no toilets or showers on the island. We brought our food, gear and everything else we needed for a week in the kayak with us. I felt like I was living out on an epic adventure, exploring new territory, even though I was only a few miles from civilization.
That week was life changing. I ate food from shells and slept under the starry sky. I realized how few things I actually needed in order to live. I began to discover an inner warrior-like trait on the inside of me; I was learning how to fly.
One day, the waves were crashing on the shore quite violently. To some it may have looked dangerous, but to me, it looked like a challenge. I decided I was going to make it past the ‘crash zone’ into the smooth sea, so I grabbed my friend our kayak and headed to the water.
We paddled hard upstream into the current for over an hour, it felt as though we were barely moving. We finally drug the boat across a small sand bar and hit the waves head on. The first couple attempts sent us flailing back to shore as the waves pummeled us; other friends tried and had the same outcome, but we were determined. After hours of hard paddling, we hit the waves just right and made it past the break point into the calm waters. I felt such accomplishment and victory!
After that trip, I noticed a change in myself. I was more confident, more fun to be around and much less uptight. I realized the lessons I had learned on the island had transformed my day to day life and I liked the change. I began to fall in love with the outdoors and how God was using it to transform me and build my confidence and sense of adventure.
Outdoor Education taught me to use my wings and fly from the cage.
I have now been involved, seasonally, in outdoor ministry for over 12 years. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to go rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, trekking, etc. I have seen God use it to transform countless others. It’s amazing how a momentary victory on a kayak can translate into lasting self-confidence and personal growth.
Breaking out of our Comfort Zone
We all want to break out of our comfort zone, but we often need a little push to get us past our comfort and step into things that are uncomfortable. The outdoors can naturally provide the push we’ve been looking for.
The Pathfinders Discipleship Training School will push you from your comfort zone spiritually, emotionally and physically.
One of the reasons I started the Pathfinders DTS 4 years ago is because I couldn’t see other DTS’s that paired outdoor ministry and discipleship. The DTS takes students on the trail for a few weeks of lecture and outreach, pushing them beyond their comfort zone, while using the outdoors as a tool to encounter God and reach out to others.
The Pathfinders DTS combines self-discovery with exploring your future and seeking out the specific calling God has placed on your life. It will help provide a sense of purpose and direction for your future, while pushing you outside your comfort zone.
God in Creation
Romans chapter 1, verse 20 says, “For since the Creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and diving nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
When we spend time reflecting on Creation, we can see and encounter God. God’s invisible qualities, His beauty, His majesty, His creativity, are reflected in nature.
We were made for adventure, we were made to explore. Will you be willing to step outside (literally) your comfort zone and adventure with God in the Outdoors? Be careful, you might break a sweat!
Laurinda is a missionary at Youth with a Mission in Brisbane where she leads a discipleship program for young adults, called the Pathfinders DTS. On her day off you can find her hiking up a mountain or swinging in a hammock. Laurinda Rapp’s previous articles may be viewed at