When you think of survival skills, what comes to mind? The ability to build a fire, shelter-making skills, finding water …
Few, if any, would think of listing faith. In fact, in all the survival manuals I’ve read (and I own many), I’ve never once seen a chapter titled “Faith.” I can’t even recall the word being mentioned.
For me, however, faith and survival are interconnected. It seems impossible to disjoint the two principles.
Don’t get me wrong, tangible survival skills are incredibly important. Proficiency in identifying wild edibles, sending rescue signals, starting fires, tying knots, hunting and navigating are all critical skills that can help a survivor adapt to and overcome a bad situation. I spend hundreds of hours in the field practicing and teaching these skills each year.
I have come to the conclusion, however, that all tangible survival skills take second place to the intangible ones. Examples of intangible survival skills are morale, attitude, the will to survive, and yes, faith. And I intentionally list faith under the category of “skill.”
skill (noun): the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well
A skill is something that takes practice. Just as starting a fire with two sticks requires hours of repetition and discipline, intangible skills require an equal, if not greater, level of dedication. If you don’t think “attitude” is an acquired skill based on practice and habit, let me show you a few people who have mastered the art of bad attitudes. They will make you a believer real quick. Intangible skills become easier to control and use to your survival advantage with regular practice.
If you train yourself day-in and day-out to have a bad attitude, having a positive outlook in a survival scenario is going to be extremely difficult. Similarly, if you never consider faith in God, talking to Him when you have nowhere else to turn is going to feel pretty awkward.
Too many people wait until they are faced with horrific circumstances to bow down in prayer. We’ve all been guilty of this a time or two in life – OK, more than a time or two for me.
Strengthening faith through prayer on a regular basis is the same as developing any other survival skill. I’ll promise you one thing: If you are ever faced with a survival situation, the first skill you’re going to want to deploy is faith. There is nothing like a survival scenario to put your knees and face on the ground.
There is one book that combines survival and faith. It’s more of a manual about surviving life, but still lists some pretty cool accounts of man versus nature. One of my favorite Bug Out stories of all time is about this guy named Noah who preps an ark with survival supplies before the worst natural disaster of all time floods the Earth. And some of you haven’t even built a Bug Out Bag yet! Shame on you. The story of John living off the land in the wilderness is another inspiring survival narrative. I’d love to have him teach a wild edibles course at Willow Haven one day.
I can’t tell you how many real-life survival stories I’ve read about people who, on the brink of death and despair, said that when all else failed them, faith kept them going. If all you have to believe in is yourself, Mother Nature will quickly and mercilessly break you. A faith in God, who is the author of Mother Nature, is a much better survival strategy. Faith is certainly a survival skill worth practicing.