By: Braedan McKee
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)
These words, written in the book of Isaiah about John the Baptist, remind me that our God rules over all the earth. No location is too remote for His notice, and no person who calls on His name can fall beyond the reaches of His great compassion! I had the privilege of spending the last two summers working as a guide for the La Vida program. During these months, I discovered the power of spending time in the wilderness. Simply being removed from distractions in the midst of God’s creation often helps me put my life back in perspective. I can think about my relationships with others and my relationship with my Creator with renewed clarity. The lessons that I learned in the Adirondacks have stayed with me and inspired me to seek out ways that I can share my experiences and passion for the outdoors with others.
After graduating college in May, my journey led me to southern Utah, where I took a job as a field guide for a wilderness therapy organization called Legacy Outdoor Adventures. This year-round program is set in the midst of the forbidding beauty of desert canyons and snow covered mountains. These locations allow the healing power of the wilderness to help clients who struggle with substance addiction and/or mental and emotional issues. As a guide, I spend five out of seven days outdoors, doing my best to make every adventure safe, fun and meaningful. Although this is not a Christian program, it is based on the 12 step model from AA which emphasizes the importance of calling upon “God as you understand him.” Because of this, I have been able to have many meaningful conversations with both clients and guides as we share our experiences and search for the truth.
It is incredible for me to reflect on how God has used my experiences with La Vida to prepare me for this type of work! As a Sherpa, I learned technical skills that equipped me for outdoor living, as well as soft skills that I am continuing to build upon as I mentor clients who are facing incredible struggles. More importantly than anything, my time at La Vida taught me to rely on Jesus for strength. When I am walking with my Savior, He provides the patience, hope and compassion which teaches me to love others unconditionally, the way that Christ loved me. Although this work is often difficult, the reward of seeing clients grow in a positive direction makes the challenge more than worthwhile! God never promised me that it would be easy but He did promise that He would never leave or forsake His children. Again and again, I have seen Him uphold this promise, even as I continue to explore the edges of my comfort zone!
Braedan worked for the La Vida Adirondack program as a Sherpa for two summers. Braedan received his degree in Environmental Science in 2017 from UMass Lowell .