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Almost died twice in less than 24 hours

part I
Attacked by man

Daylight was quickly running out as the sun slipped behind the Utah hills. Alone I searched for a place to sleep for the night down a small dirt road.  A locked gate rerouted me till eventually I came upon a fork in the road. The fork to the right was more a trail than a road. I squeezed my van down it and along the river to a clear flat piece of land with a bit of twilight remaining. Not a soul in sight, but a sign saying, “No overnight camping.” I figured a van blurs those lines, but it wasn’t without consequence. I woke to a man shouting expletives at me outside my window.
Good morning to me! He hiked on, and I was wide awake now; I decided to explore my surroundings. Boardies on, I walked a trail down to the water and jumped into the Virgin River. Feeling alive and refreshed, my life flashed before me. A large rock splashed next to me from a 30 ft cliff above. I tucked in under an overhang of the cliff above where my attacker was perched. I waited in silence, considering my options. As long as I was next to the cliff, he couldn’t hit me. I waited, scared, all while fighting the river’s current trying to push me out of my position into the open water. I held my ground, but another rock splashed, and another, and another. He couldn’t see me, and I couldn’t see him, but my clothes were on the beach, so he knew I was down there.
I recently heard a story from a friend in Montana who accidentally wandered onto an Indian reservation. They knew it because natives were racing toward them at top speed in their pickup truck, rifles out the window, shooting live rounds at them. It’s open season on reservation trespassers.
Did I wander onto a reservation and am free game?
After a few minutes of stillness, I figured he ran out of ammunition. I clawed my way against the current back to the beach where my clothes lay. Cautiously I scan the edge of the cliff for my attacker. I hiked back up to camp, watching my back the whole way. Sure enough, my grumpy old man alarm clock was on the trail ahead of me. He yelled something I couldn’t quite make out, to which I replied, “Were you throwing rocks at me?!”
No reply as I got closer.
“Can’t you read the sign?” Said the old man.
“Were you throwing rocks at me? I ask again, visibly angry.
“I don’t throw rocks.” said the ten-year-old boy inside the old man’s body.
He then lectured me about how I’m not supposed to be down in the river.
I said, “I didn’t read the sign, but more importantly, you could have killed me!!”
He walked away, and my eventful stay in my van down by the river had come to a close.

Part II
Attacked by nature.

A few hours later. . .
I needed a new spot and recover from the adrenaline. Testing out the van’s 4×4, I crawled along the edge of a bumpy dirt road up stream. Another opening presented itself, and it was beautiful. I pulled up to a clearing, walked down with my chair and journal, and posted up on a smooth rock. The water was rushing a couple of feet below my perch.
A good hour went by as I enjoyed the solitude, beauty, and kind words from Jesus as I journaled and prayed. The sun was hot, so I jumped into a calm pool formed by an eddy below. Returning to my journal, I turned my back on the river to avoid the scorching sun. (Not a smart idea).
The following is an excerpt from my journal from that moment.
(Side Note: I have a practice of trying to hear from God. I write a question to him in black ink, then in blue ink, I write whatever comes to mind, giving myself the benefit of the doubt that Jesus is speaking to me. More often than not, I am pleasantly surprised by what I hear. This moment did not disappoint).
“Jesus, what are you saying to me out here? Thank you for this spot. Thank you for this solitude.”
“Stay connected to the wild, son.
You are wild.
You were made for it.
You were made from it.
Get out as often as you can and bring your family into it. I speak to you uniquely here. You are more in tune with me here.
I see you.
I love you.
I care for you.
Connect with me so you can connect with others.
I am a river in dry land. No matter how hopeless it may feel, I am life restoring hope to the hopeless.
Cast all your worries and cares on me, and I will give you rest for your soul.
That’s all for now. It’s time to pack up and go, son.”
Still facing downstream, I put my journal and blue pen in my backpack, folded my chair, and swung the backpack over my shoulders. Turning around, I step off the rock just in time to avoid the swelling river of a flash flood!!
I kid you not, the river widened in seconds, and had I not packed up when He said to; I would have been swept away, as my back was facing upstream that whole time.
Moments later, the calm river turned violent and brown. I watched a giant log rush over the rock where I was sitting.
Jesus literally saved my life.
Adventure is spoken of often these days, usually to sell something. Most adventure we modern folk experience is curated, calculated, measured, and safe.
There is no greater adventure than an intimate walk with God. It is an authentic adventure when we put our trust in Him, releasing control of outcomes. No wanderlust hipster Instagram influencer can compare to the adventure of a life with Jesus.
I learned a valuable lesson of listening and obeying. Had I not got up when he told me, I might not be here today.
I am so thankful for how He sees us, how He loves us, and how He cares for us.
Jesus is a river in dry land, hope to the hopeless, rest for your soul.
Here’s to your next adventure with Him. 




Assumption of the Risk: I am aware that there are significant risks involved in all aspects of physical training.  I understand that the reaction of the heart, lungs and vascular system to exercise cannot always be predicted with accuracy.  I understand that there is a risk of certain abnormal changes occurring during or following exercise, which may include abnormalities of blood pressure or heart rate; chest, arm, or leg discomfort;  transient light-headedness or fainting; and in rare instances, heart attack, stroke, or even death.  I should look for any signs out of the ordinary,  including but not limited to excessive soreness, darkened urine, and pain in the kidney areas in the days following a workout. While this type of injury is very rare, it can occur due to many factors that may be beyond the control of PURSUIT/ Garden Church. I understand that the programs and classes offered by PURSUIT are of a nature and kind that are extremely strenuous and can/may push me to the limits of my physical ability.  These risks include, but are not limited to falls which can result in serious injury or death, injury or death due to negligence on the part of myself or other people around me, injury or death due to improper use or failure of equipment.  I am aware that any of these above-mentioned risks may result in serious injury or death to myself and/or others.  

I willingly assume full responsibility for any and all risks that I am exposing myself to as a result of my participation in PURSUITS’ programs and classes and accept full responsibility for any injury or death that may result from participation in any activity, class, or physical fitness program.    

Liability Release: I fully understand that my personal exercise program may be strenuous and I choose to participate voluntarily. I accept all responsibility for my health and any results, injury, or mishaps that may affect my well-being or health in any way. I waive any claims, demands,  causes of action, or any claims for relief whatsoever against, and release PURSUIT (as well Zac Ernst, Garden Church and its owners, employees, or other authorized agents, including independent contractors) from any and all liability, claims and/or causes of action that I may have for injuries or other damages, arising out of participation in PURSUITs’ activities, including, but not limited to the programs and classes. 

I agree that PURSUIT is in no way responsible for the safekeeping of my personal belongings while I attend its programs and classes. I understand that programs and classes at PURSUIT may be physically strenuous and I voluntarily participate in them with full knowledge that there is a risk of personal injury, property loss, or death. I agree that neither I, my heirs, assigns or legal representatives will sue or make any other claims of any kind whatsoever against PURSUIT or its members for any personal injury, property damage or loss, or wrongful death, whether caused by my negligence or otherwise.    

Description of Potential Risks: I understand that no exercise program is without inherent risks regardless of the care taken by an instructor and that my personal safety cannot be guaranteed by my instructor. I realize that when participating in any exercises, particularly those that induce cardiovascular stress, muscular endurance, strength building, and other fitness activities, there is a chance of serious injury, including but not limited to bruises, musculoskeletal strains, and sprains, more serious injuries including but not limited to heart attack, stroke, muscle tears, herniated disks, torn rotator cuffs, or other cardiovascular injuries, or catastrophic injuries including but not limited to death and paralysis.   

Participant Responsibilities: If Participant is able to answer affirmatively to any of the following questions, please consult a physician prior to any  involvement in PURSUITs’ programs and classes:   

  1. Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should perform physical activity recommended by a physician?  
  2. In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?  
  3. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?   
  4. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?  
  5. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs for your blood pressure or heart condition?   
  6. Do you know of any reason why you should not engage in physical activity?   

I understand that it is my responsibility to:  

  1. Fully disclose any health issues or medications that are relevant to participation in a strenuous exercise program to the instructor;
  2. Cease exercise and report promptly any unusual feelings (e.g., chest discomfort, nausea, difficulty breathing, apparent injury, etc.) during  the exercise program; and
  3. Clear my participation with my physician.   

Participant Acknowledgments: Agreeing to this exercise program, I acknowledge that my participation is completely voluntary. I understand the potential physical risks involved in the exercise program and believe that the potential benefits outweigh those risks. I give consent to certain physical touching that may be necessary to ensure proper technique and body alignment. I understand that the achievement of health and fitness goals cannot be guaranteed. I have had a voice in planning and approving the activities I have chosen to participate in. I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have, and have had those questions answered to my satisfaction. I am in good physical condition,                                       

I have no impairment which might prevent my participation in such activities, and have been advised to consult a physician prior to beginning this program. I have been advised to cease exercise immediately if I experience unusual discomfort and feel the need to stop. I have read and understood the above release; I have been able to ask questions regarding any concerns I might have; I have had those questions answered to my satisfaction.

I understand that my medical history is a very important factor in the development of my fitness/wellness program. I understand that certain medical or physical conditions which are known to me, but which I do not disclose to PURSUIT may result in serious injury to me.  If any of the above conditions change, I will immediately inform PURSUIT of those changes. I, knowingly, and willingly, assume all risk of injury resulting from my failure to disclose accurate, complete, and updated information in accordance with this release.   

I hereby certify that I know of no medical problems that would increase my risk of illness and injury as a result of participation in a fitness program designed by PURSUIT.  With my full understanding of the above information, I agree to assume any and all risks associated with my participation in PURSUIT programs and classes.

I acknowledge that I have voluntarily chosen to participate in a program of progressive physical exercise. I acknowledge being informed of the strenuous nature of the program and the potential for unusual but possible, physiological results including, but not limited to, abnormal blood pressure, rhabdomyolysis, fainting, heart attack, paralysis, or death. By signing this document, I assume all risk for my health and well-being and hold PURSUIT, Garden Church, as well as Zac Ernst, other owners, employees, and authorized agents, including independent contractors, harmless therefrom. I understand that questions about exercise procedures and recommendations are encouraged and welcome.           

Indemnification: I recognize that there is risk involved in the types of activities offered by PURSUIT. Therefore, I accept financial responsibility for any injury that I may cause either to myself or to any other participant due to his/her negligence. Should the above-mentioned parties, or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney’s fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree to reimburse them for such fees and costs. 

I further agree to indemnify and hold harmless PURSUIT, Garden Church, Zac Ernst, owners, agents, employees, independent contractors, and volunteers from liability for the injury or death of any person(s) and damage to property that may result from my negligent or intentional act or omission while participating in activities offered by PURSUIT.  

I have carefully read this Agreement and fully understand its contents. I am aware that this is a release and waiver of liability and sign it knowingly, voluntarily, and of my own free will.