I am eaten alive with bug bites. I have sticks and leaves in my hair. Worse than all of that, though, I feel I have done little to no justice to my paperback hero, Joe Makatozi.
For those who have not read much Louis L’Amour, a bit of explanation may be in order.
Last of the Breed. Read it. It is the story of a pilot, Joe Mack to his friends, who was shot down over Siberia. He just so happens to be a full-blooded American Indian. Imprisoned in a secret military camp, he quickly escapes into the Taiga. That begins a massive hunt, led by the big Yakut, Alekhin. I am writing all of this by memory; the book is that much a favorite of mine.
Anyway, Joe Makatozi successfully eludes capture time after time, eventually fighting and scalping Alekhin, then crossing the Bering Sea to safety.
I bring all of this up because of the activity I have just enjoyed/endured at Camp Hosanna.
During the summer, I am blessed to preach a good number of Christian camps. Last week I did Camp Victory in Trenton, Ga., and as I write this I am at Camp Hosanna in Hiawassee, Ga. We have just completed an amazing night time game called “The Searchers.” The counselors and guest preacher (me) hide somewhere on the camp, in the dark. As the guest preacher, I am worth 10 points, the biggest prize, and as such, everyone is looking for me.
I did not know I would be playing this game, otherwise I would have spent any amount of money for disguises, cover, whatever, as I hate to lose.
When the game began, I went way down by the river, laid flat on the ground, and covered myself in brush. Then began the waiting game, lying still while being eaten alive. I would not make a sound, though; I could feel Joe Mack nodding approval at my resolve.
For a while, a lot of kids came by in a hurry, making noise, waving flashlights, but not seeing me.
But then I heard slow, careful footsteps, and I knew what was happening … A moment later a young man walked up, looked at the pile of brush and said, “Is that you, pastor?” I smiled, rose, and said yes, then told him he did a good job. He smiled back and informed me I had left a trail to follow. I groaned, knowing how very un-Makatozi-like that was.
As I thought over how the young man found me, it occurred to me that, despite my best efforts not to leave a trail or trace or be followed, some determined young person found my trail and followed me anyway. And in that, I find a lesson well worth remembering.
Adults, especially those who call themselves Christians, have an awesome responsibility.
Whether we like it or not or wish it or not, there will be young people following us. If we do good, they will follow. If we do bad, they will follow. And in Luke 17:2 Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” That word “offend” means more than to hurt their feelings, it indicates putting a stumbling block in front of them and causing them to fall into sin.
The idea that parents or pastor or teacher or any other Christian adult can tell a child “do as I say, not as I do,” is unbiblical and illogical. Kids follow; it is just what they do. And for better or worse, they often do it much better than we may imagine or wish.
Every step you take in your life, every word you say, every attitude you demonstrate, never forget that somewhere there will be young eyes watching and following along. Lead right, do right, speak right, and always have the right spirit about you. The aged apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” If our children walk in truth, it will likely be because we blazed that trail for them.
And for the record, the only reason I was found is because I was not allowed to be in the water. If I had, I would not have been Joe Makatozi, I would have been Chuck Norris laying on the bottom of the river breathing through a reed.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. Dr. Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.