My outdoor adventures with God

By Jenna Ebener

My family and friends often tell me they live through me as I describe my Colorado adventures. I was in my rock-climbing gym. I was at least 30 feet off the ground and my back was parallel to the floor. I took a deep breath and made my way across the ceiling. I reached my hand down to grab the rope by my harness and clipped it into the next bolt. I laughed as I realized I felt like Spiderman. Another day, I was running down a mountain in a full sprint. As I dodged rocks, my soul felt as light as a feather and I lived up to my nickname “Jetpack.” Not long after, I was clipped into a cable as I traversed over a roaring creek. Hand over hand I moved backwards and upwards until I reached the other side. As I dangled over the water like a sloth, I could not keep the smile off of my face.

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Columnist Jenna Ebener embraces adventure in the outdoors.

As I embrace these adventures, my joyful personality and determination shine. I laugh with pure joy and embrace my childlike nature as I take on exciting challenges. I am always on the move and looking for the next adventure. My family and friends know of this desire and may see some of it as crazy. While it may be crazy, the real source of my thirst for adventure is actually founded in my relationship with God.

One of the ways I feel closest to God is in nature. I have always been an active person who loved being outside. Growing up in Illinois, I did not have mountains but I had country roads, parks and acres of woods where I spent much of my time hiking, running, biking, fishing and hunting. Time spent in the woods with my family nurtured my appreciation for the outdoors and my relationship with God. I see God the most when I am outside. I see him in sunsets, in blooming trees and in deer tracks by a river bank.

When I am outdoors, I am taking in God’s beauty and contemplating life choices with him in the silence that can only be found in nature. Whether I am perched in a tree or running in the woods, my soul is never as calmed and refreshed as it is in nature. That is why I jumped on the opportunity to move out here to Colorado almost three years ago. I was starting my career in the notoriously stressful field of social work and knew I needed more opportunities in nature than what I could find in Illinois. Colorado seemed the perfect canvas to continually refresh my soul. If I was already seeing God so much in woods, how much more would I see him in mountains where I could trail run, rock climb and whitewater raft?

The answer took me by surprise. I did not think I could love spending time in nature more than I already did. Yet with each new adventure, my love for nature and God grows. My adventures with God outside are a beautiful trust exercise. I become one with God as I focus on his presence. I trust him to guide my hands and feet. I trust him to help me be aware of my surroundings and to know when I need to take a break or slow down. Above all, I feel his presence in the elation I feel as I embrace this life he has blessed me with. Every adventure I go on is possible because God created this earth and blessed me to be able to experience his creation. My thirst for adventures, my determination to never give up and my vibrant joy are all sourced in my relationship with God. For “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).

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