I’ve likely related this story before in my blog, but can’t seem to find reference to it so will perhaps be telling it again now.
Dear and good friends are dealing daily with a battle, that being cancer, advanced.
As I woke up today praying for them (as I have off and on yesterday and through the night each time I wake for a moment), a memory picture popped up in my mind.
Years ago I went on a hunting trip to a huge tract of land was recently able to visit again.
It’s truly a beautiful piece of property in Illinois where our National Guard practices on the weekends but the DNR allows hunting during the various seasons Monday to Thursday.
That year I’d gone out on opening day (September 1) and it was super hot. In fact something like 95 or more degrees. This tract of land includes more than 2,200 acres.
At noon I’d walked a very long way in and alongside the woods ending up in a canyon area where a small creek/river runs.
I’d been all over the property for some years but this particular place was completely new to me.
Though I had a map and compass, it was near noon, so which way was west? I decided to eat my lunch and literally lay on a small mound in the creek where smooth stones lay over sand and the cool, spring-fed water tricked over it about an inch or two high.
Placing my pack, etc. on the nearby bank, I filled my hat with cool water, put it back on my head and lay down to take a nap in one of nature’s “air conditioning” spots.
About an hour or more later I woke feeling better from the food and a cool nap, and then remembered the fact that I was fully lost.
Until the sun moved I wasn’t fully sure of basic directions.
As it became clear which way west was… I put the pack on my back, climbed up a near-vertical canyon wall finally reaching the top. After I tossed everything on the flat I stuck my head over the edge.
Peering a very long way down the treeline and massive field I could just see- the parking lot!!
All I could do was laugh and give God thanks for the craziness of it all.
Here I had been so very close to where we always parked in the morning and gathered at day’s end but had never realized this very different deep drop off and creek bed was there.
Discovery of the closeness of God is essential, especially in times of struggle, pain, confusion and a journey that has potholes, canyons, some even fatal.
None of us are as certain as we think we are and of course the battles, confusion and fearful events often arrive with no warning. What to do?
What does our “sun” look like? What if there is thick cloud-cover and no trees or moss or other “signs” of direction?
What if we lost (or did not bring) our “map”?
Have you ever gone somewhere and forgot to bring your lunch, your hat, your compass?
We are not always prepared for these “wilderness” moments, the “dark night of the soul” experience. Indeed, life sometimes brings us a nearly vertical, hot and difficult climb.
Yet those who choose to surrender to and follow the Lord Jesus are not alone.
It’s being alone- especially “without hope and without God in the world” by and in which one is TRULY LOST.
On that hot day, God provided for me but also gave me eyes to see, give thanks and acknowledge His provision.
He brought joy at the end of the climb, the ability to have a bit of humility and laugh.
He provided a deep, emotional sense of grace in realizing where I was even when I didn’t fully know “where” I was- and assured me that He was with me the entire time.
I am praying this is the experience of my friends even as it has been mine for most of my lifetime.