With all that we did in 24 hours, nothing was more important than this. Pastor Danny Bennett called it The Jug Jog and it was the vortex of the entire Men of Valor event. But the men didn't know anything about it.
We woke up the troops at 5:30am and gave them 5 minutes to report to the campfire ring. Each squad showed up immediately with their squad flag in hand. Each man was instructed to grab both 1-gallon jugs of water that they brought and then form-up as Valor Company in marching formation 3-wide. They had learned how to form-up during their initial check-in at the church.
Sunrise was still over an hour away so it was pitch black dark. The temperature was perfect. With a gallon of water in each hand the men began to march down a dirt road into the wilderness. One gallon of water weighs 8 lbs and at 5:45am your shoulders feel the extra weight. We jogged in cadence for a little bit and held the jugs above our shoulders at times. Every 100 yards we stopped, with jugs still in hand, and listened as a different squad leader would read a passage from scripture about casting off the sin of this world. To say it was powerful would be a severe understatement.
At the time the men did not know it, but our destination was 650 yards away. 650 yards is the greatest distance ever traveled with the greatest amount of weight ever carried to perform the greatest act ever accomplished. After being beaten beyond recognition, 650 yards is believed to be the distance Jesus traveled carrying the sins of the world to the place He would be hung on a cross. It is the most celebrated distance in the world as it is reenacted every Easter. This day would be our Easter.
As we approached the final part of the 650 yards we could see an old rugged cross leaning against a tree with a few flashlights shining up on it from the ground. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. As we arrived at the cross Danny began to preach an inspiring message. He talked about the cross, the distance traveled, and the weight of sin. The kind of weight that slows a man down. The kind of weight that destroys a man's life. Danny described how the jugs of water represented the unnecessary weight of sin in our lives. He asked us to kneel down and identify one vice in our life that is keeping us from soaring in Christ. He asked us to write it in the sand. He then asked us to open our jugs of water and pour them out over top of the sin that we just wrote in the sand. It was an awesome moment. All you could hear is the beautiful sound of flowing water. And the sin that we had written in the sand, it was no longer there. The water had washed it away. Scripture says that Jesus is the Living Water. He washed our sins away. As we stood back up it was time to get in marching formation. It was time to make a 180 degree turn and head back in the other direction. As we marched back singing Christian Jody Calls each squad took turns carrying the cross 100 yards where we would halt and listen as a squad leader read a scripture passage about the grace of God. We went back 650 yards towards camp. Only this time we had exchanged the weight of the jugs for the weight of the cross.
To repent means to make a 180 degree turn. It represents what a Christian does when he stops looking towards his own selfish ambitions and turns 180 degrees towards God's purpose for his life. As we come to Christ we all have to do a 180. But each day we are also called to do a 650. Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23). It all starts with a 180, but are we also doing our daily 650?
I will never forget this special morning. It was powerful, very powerful.