As I began to gather equipment and supplies for my backpacking trip to Isle Royale, I started with taking stock of what, if anything I had and what I could borrow from friends. Not being much of a camper or back packer, my store was pretty scant. I did have a canteen, mess kit and backpack from my Boy Scout days, but decided they probably were more valuable as antiques than anything else. These items still had the original kaki colored cloth covers with the official Boy Scouts of America stamp on them. As I looked them over and reminisced of my time as a Boy Scout, I was reminded of the scouts motto, “Always be prepared”. My friend Dave, an experienced backpacker had given me a list of essentials I would need for the trip and I went on the official Isle Royale web site for further information. A few of the pack full of items I needed to be prepared were, mole skin in case of blisters, a first aid kit, waterproof matches, rain gear, plastic bags to keep things dry, a compass, tape (just in case), plastic ties, extra meals in case the boat couldn‘t pick us up due to rough water, a map, and a compass. I didn’t use the mole skin, first aid kit, or compass, but I had them and had been prepared in case I had needed them. I used all the other stuff.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” A backpacker needs to be prepared for whatever they encounter on the trail and we need to be prepared spiritually for surprise encounters with unbelievers. Dave and I encountered such a person in the form of another hiker named Paul. This guy really opened up to us and wanted to talk about his personal problems and his disappointment with organized religion. Both Dave and I conversed with Paul and tried to share the hope we had in Christ, but we were both disappointed in the way we handled the situation. We thought of lots of things we should have said after we had left Paul. We realized we both had a pretty good handle on Scripture, but because of our jobs in Christian ministry and our social acquaintances, we really didn’t rub shoulders with too many non Christians and we were not used to such conversations. To be prepared for such encounters, we needed to have more of them. We needed to have regular contact and conversations with non Christians to keep us sharp and help us to be effective witnesses. What do you need in order to be prepared according to the admonition in 1 Peter 3:15? Is it more knowledge of Scripture? More motivation or passion? More contact with non believers? Do you need a better understanding of how to defend your faith? God expects us to take whatever steps are necessary so that when someone asks us about the hope that we have, we are prepared with an answer that is adequate, compelling and worthy of our high calling.