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The Optimistic Explorer

The Optimistic Explorer


Medical waiting rooms provide interesting encounters. Hurting and sometimes fearful people are prime prospects for encouraging words and are often receptive to invitations to faith.

Occasionally, there’s even a memorable article in one of the magazines provided for impatient patients that makes the wait worthwhile. Such was the case not long ago when, awaiting my turn for a routine physical, the intriguing account of Lewis and Clark’s epic explorations caught my eye and then my attention. The scenery, the descriptions of hair raising adventures, and the mystery of history made this wait worthwhile, but one statement by Captain Clark towered above all the rest.

Upon reading Clark’s comment, I quickly scribbled it on a subscription card in Smithsonian Magazine lest it slip away before I could share it with others. Here’s the scene and substance of Clark’s statement that has life changing potential; maybe for you today:

Captain Clark and company have reached the Rocky Mountains and are headed for the Pacific Ocean. A painting shows him captivated by the beauty before him. Suddenly, however, he is distracted from the beauty of the moment by thoughts about the difficulties and hardships this tough terrain may present to him and his companions as they carry out their mission. Injuries and even death loom.

Then, moving his mood from fear to faith, Clark says, “As I have always held it a little short of criminality to anticipate evils, I will allow it to be a good and comfortable road until I am compelled to believe otherwise,” a wise decision, since he lived another thirty three successful years, achieved many goals and died of natural causes.

We are all explorers, looking everyday for new discoveries. Sometimes these explorations lead us into dangerous places and new challenges, but there is no need to fear if our faith is in the One who knows the future.

Looking out my upstairs office window at this time of the year, I see a panorama of beauty. Fall has arrived in all its splendor: crisp autumn air seems to brighten the blue above, making a dramatic backdrop for trees whose leaves have erupted in kaleidoscopic colors; Canada Geese and their more diminutive but no less organized cousins frolic in a flurry of activity preparing for their own impressive and expansive expeditions, demonstrating God’s design in His creation and His love for us. But if, like Captain Clark, I allow myself to focus on fear instead of faith I will immediately lose the blessings of all this beauty.

God hasn’t promised blue skies every day. We may experience emotional and physical pain, face conflicts with disagreeable people and receive unwanted bills in the mail, but none of these things can separate us from the love of God.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “The great thing…both as regards pain and financial worries is to live day to day and hour to hour not adding the past or the future to the present.”

Faith enables us to be triumphant in trouble (1 John 5:4). There may be dangerous mountains to cross, but knowing that faith moves mountains (Matthew 17:20) makes optimistic explorers of us all.

Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. A new book containing over one hundred of his best columns, “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is now available at your local or online bookseller. Contact us at rcministry@ameritech.net