Men’s Life Renewal JourneyAenewalsk yourself the following questions:
- Am I content?
- What’s in the next season of my life?
- What can I do to make the most of the time I have left?
- If I could make some changes, would I?
- Do I wonder if there is more to life than what I currently experience?
If answers to any of these questions intrigue you, or maybe plague you, then you ought to consider the idea of renewal. Here’s how Webster defines it:
Renew (Verb) To make (something) new again; to restore to freshness or original condition. To replace (something which has broken etc.); to replenish (something which has been exhausted).
Notice that “renew” is a verb, an action word. Renew is something we do- it doesn’t just happen to us. If you’ve read this far, you are at least a little interested in making some changes in your life that really matter. This doesn’t mean you are disappointed with your life to date (although you might be), but rather that you want to explore what changes might make an appreciable difference. What areas of your life, if done differently, might provide more satisfaction, meaning, purpose, happiness and joy?
If you’re still reading, then you might be ready for a process that requires a willingness to challenge and expand important comfort zones while committing to yourself and other like-minded men to more fully surrender to God. This process is time-consuming and strenuous, requiring a commitment far beyond what many men our age typically consider. But it makes sense that undoing or redoing deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior are going to take longer than a few days, weeks or even months. We’re talking about a journey here, a gradual renewing in middle age- a deep and powerful season of life.
The plan is simple enough, the time commitment straightforward, and the rewards nearly limitless. We start with a six-day adventure component, then meet virtually every month for a year to prepare for a more advanced adventure experience, then another year of monthly mini-experiences culminating with the final project. Yep, that is two YEARS. For me- just 3% of my life. Not much in the big picture of a lifespan, yet requiring extraordinary commitment and potential sacrifice.
This journey will saddle you with others on ropes, rocks, snow and maybe even ice. You will hike together over hill and dale through some of earth’s most majestic scenery. You will share stories, hardships, victories and dreams with those in your same season of life. You will listen hard for God’s voice, unencumbered by daily hassles that draw you into busy-ness and away from God’s gentle, but firm nudging. You most certainly will laugh hard, but you may weep too.
You will contemplate, reflect, connect, argue, climb, hike, serve, design and implement all the facets of your renewal. Spiritual formation, leadership, interpersonal skills, physical fitness, and cross-cultural service form the framework of your journey. Each experience, whether crossing a glacier, separating foot-high wheat from thorny weeds on a Palestinian Christian’s farm, or meeting for 2 hours on a monthly Zoom meeting to share struggles with trusted men are all catalysts for the growth that renews and prepares us for the life’s next season.
You will interact with people seeking to help deepen your friendship with God. Monthly endeavors keep previous learning fresh and introduce new ideas and practices. Of course, there will be some homework, but not likely the kind you experienced in traditional schooling.
Renewing yourself with other men is both hilarious and heart wrenching. Laughter erupts and tears flow as we explore new territory and re-examine old, allowing God to “renew our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The camaraderie of hiking, climbing, cooking, serving, and sleeping in closer connection with the earth and other people sets the stage for everything to follow. What was true for the Israelites after the Exodus from Pharaoh is true for us today- renewal and submission to God starts with wilderness wandering. God leads the way, professional and seasoned instructors help maximize your experiences, and fellow sojourners offer empathy and support as only they can.
Nowhere on this journey is there a “Boot Camp.” We are not trying to break anyone. Instead we provide the context to reflect, examine, and motivate together. Because we are navigating through unfamiliar territory, we are more reliant on God and others, our hard edges softened so that the Almighty Potter can mold us more into His Image.
Six days in the wilderness is the ideal way to illuminate the paths we must follow for the rest of the journey. Challenges that seek to push our comfort zones integrated with reflection, discussion and time spent with fellow travelers.
Itinerary for 2 Year Program
FIRST EXPERIENCE- WILDERNESS TRIP- HIGH SIERRA (6 DAYS)
Monthly Meetings (First Year)
The schedule for these will be arranged during the High Sierra course. For one to two hours each month, we meet virtually to discuss related events, current progress and future goals. It will take practice and repetition for new habits and practices to take hold, but these meetings will build on the relationships that were begun on the Backpacking course.
SECOND EXPERIENCE- SERVICE AND MOUNTAINEERING- ECUADOR (10 DAYS)
Monthly Meetings (Second Year)
FINAL EXPERIENCE- THE JESUS TRAIL/TENT OF NATIONS- HOLY LAND (14 DAYS)
Men’s Life Renewal Curriculum
Content used throughout this journey comes from five major areas: spiritual formation, interpersonal communication, cross-cultural service and physical education. Although each is important on its own, it is the way they combine and intersect to make for powerful change and growth. In fact, because they have so much in common it may be difficult to tell which of these subjects we are dealing with at any given moment. It makes for rich, lively and challenging discussions, extensive journaling, and profound discovery.
Experiences are at the heart of this program. A 6-day wilderness trip to California’s High Sierra ushers in a challenging format that continues for two years. It is not for the faint of heart, even when monthly meetings are on the docket. Yet most of us intuitively realize that renewing middle-age crustiness and deeply rutted routines will require serious and consistent work.
Researchers tell us that working together produces greater and more long-lasting results. Realizing that we are not on this journey (or sojourning on this earth) alone may tip the scales from good intentions to renewal that makes a difference.