By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president


Is there a family vacation memory that stands out the most to you? My first family vacation, my parents decided that we should go camping in Colorado. For a 10-year-old boy who’d never been to Colorado or camping, this sounded like a great idea! It sounded like a magical place with mountains stretching to the sky, gushing streams, and forest animals lurking in the woods. I was ready to go!

The day we left, we headed west and by the end of the day we could see the massive mountains filling the horizon. Mind you we were only used to the flat, treeless farmlands of Kansas. When we arrived at our campground, my parents told us we were visiting the Royal Gorge the next day. I didn’t know what it was at the time but it sounded exciting!

But the next day when we came to the bridge at the gorge, I saw something that I’d never seen before: Cliffs going straight down! I peeked over the edge and felt fear welling up in my throat. I bravely stepped out 20 feet onto the bridge. But as I looked down through the half inch cracks of the boards to the valley below I couldn’t take another step. I was done!

My parents tried to persuade me. My sister mocked me. The people passing by wondered what was going on. And I was stuck holding on to the edge of the bridge petrified with fear. Finally, I managed to turn around, drop to my hands and knees, and crawl back to safety. What a great vacation.

Reflecting on that moment that day, I realized something; My parents stayed with me. They encouraged me and giggled a little too, but they stayed with me through my fear and difficulties.

When the children of Israel left Egypt, they were excited and eager to get to the Promised Land. But soon their trials made them look back to where they came from and long for that perceived safety. When they finally arrived at the final crossing of the Jordan River, they were so frightened by the giants that they couldn’t cross over. But God stayed with them!

In Exodus 33:14, God promises, “…My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” God stayed with them even when they didn’t want to go where He was taking them. He stayed and walked with them even when they were frozen in fear and refused to take another step. He was there wandering through the wilderness with them.

In your life and mine, our continual challenge is to stay by people’s side through difficult times no matter the age or stage of life. As our children are growing up, going to school and learning about life’s difficulties, we just need to walk with them. Adventist Education is one way that we stay with our young people. Through great Sabbath schools, Pathfinders, Adventurers and our school system, we can walk with our young people through the sometimes challenging years of growing up and show them that God and His followers will not leave them and will eventually get them to the place that God wants for them.