It was colder than a well digger’s lunch pail and the dark storm clouds were menacing. Greg was so excited about taking me out with him on a trip to the Trinity Alps of California in the Fall of that year. We parked alongside a dry river bed with huge purple mountains looming over us. The mist hovering over the mountains gave a feeling of mystical reverence as we made our way across the dry river bed full of huge boulders that had washed down the gully from the previous winter’s snow melt. I was bundled up like one of those kids in the movie, The Christmas Story, and felt about as flexible as the one little kid who got all bundled up and then fell down and couldn’t get up, just laying there with his arms straight out, yelling for help because he had to go to the bathroom.
The trail across the gully to the beginning of the trail head was daunting as I followed my husband across. I tried to act all cool and everything like I knew what I was doing. Every once in a while he would glance back to make sure I was still there; or he would just yell and ask if I was okay but didn’t look back. Not being very graceful, as you have seen from previous posts, I tried to step over boulders or on top of boulders to keep up with him– not without producing a few bruises. My pride wouldn’t let me turn back, especially when he kept telling me how wonderful it was to have a woman who loved the outdoors as much as him. I couldn’t disappoint. Right?
Somewhere half way across the river I encountered a huge rock and my boot slipped. I fell into a hole between two huge boulders …flat on my back. I was wedged in like a sardine in a can. With all of my garb on I could not get up. A cold wind was blowing and as I tried to get Greg’s attention by yelling, my voice carried on down the gully and he did not hear me. So, like the kid in the movie I lay there flailing my arms and legs with as much dignity as I could muster. For a span of time he did not turn around. While I lay there fear crept in and I was sure he would get so far away he would never find me until Spring, at the first thaw. I pictured myself defrosting with my arms and legs sticking straight up with my face twisted up in total humiliation. Then since I knew this area was full of bears I then shifted my attention to being eaten alive by a bear. I just knew that he would manage at least a leg before Greg would find me. I could hear my own screams at that horror. My mind was going crazy. Finally, when I didn’t answer, Greg turned around and all he said he could see were four limbs frantically flailing in the air from the distance he had gained on me. He came back and rescued me while trying desperately to muffle his guffaws of mirth at the sight of me. He tried to be compassionate but he still laughs to this day about me stuffed into that hole.
Thinking about this escapade I began to see the spiritual application of the whole journey that day. I will write more about the trek up the mountain in the wilderness at a later blog. This is what came out of the boulder story, however. I saw five ways my growth in faith was similar to this trek across the creek bed.
1. My walk of faith is much like entering into the forest of mist. It looks precarious and dangerous. I can never clearly see just how God will provide the answer to my need, but I must believe He is fervently working on my behalf and an answer will surely come. He has never let me down. Even when the answer may not be what I was thinking it would be. It hardly ever happens overnight either. There is waiting involved and walking in the fog with very little visability. Psalms 91
2. When the winds of adversity is blowing and the cold is overwhelming I must focus on Him and Him alone. David said in the book of Psalms that he wanted to fly away like a dove and escape his problems….but if you read right before that statement he also said he was distracted by the noise of the enemy. When we are believing God we can get so easily distracted by the ‘noise’ of our enemy and lose heart with waiting . Psalms 55
3. When I stumble and fall into a hole it isn’t all over for me but sometimes I feel that way. I am human and there are times I let my guard down and act that way, as well. But each time I learn that He doesn’t condemn me for my mistakes or unbelief while I am waiting on Him to come through. He understands!! As long as Peter’s eyes were on Jesus he actually walked on water. Close your eyes and feel the water beneath your feet. Did Peter feel the rise and fall of the waves as he walked out there for those brief moments? Did his feet get wet? Was it like climbing mountains of moving waves of water? Can you feel it! But then he looked away for just a minute and said in his head, “Oh my gosh, the winds are hurricane force, the waves are huge and looming over me and what was I thinking, I can’t walk on water…I must be crazy to think I can! I’m gonna die!” Or something like that. And plop, there he goes into the water! But wait, he doesn’t go all the way in. He is caught by Jesus’s hand holding him up. Even in his unbelief Jesus honored the little bit of faith Peter exerted by stepping out onto the water and reached out and helped him walk the rest of the way to the boat. Jesus is like that! I suspect he was kind of laughing with love as he hoisted Peter over the edge of the boat. I would not be able to suppress at least a smile. Matthew 14:29-30
4. Like Peter my mind can run wild when the heat of the moment gets really tough. Fear is a faith killer. Yet, it attacks us relentlessly unless we harness our thoughts by doing whatever we have to do to not allow ourselves to think of anything but Him. The “what ifs” are generated by the enemy to get us to a place of being terrified that maybe this time God will let us be tested beyond what we are able to bear. His word says he will always provide a way of escape for us…always!! While I lay there between those rocks my mind went crazy. First I was frozen in a humiliating position and then I was eaten by a bear, left all alone in the wilderness with no protection. You know what the way of escape is? HIM!! He is our way of escape. Run into Him and He will carry us over and through the storms, or, I should say, haul us out of the holes of life we fall into. If I have to I will praise Him over and over in my head until the enemy leaves me alone with his fear tactics. He can’t stay in the presence of Jesus.
5. Just like Greg was struck with how funny I looked laying there waving my arms and legs yelling to the top of my lungs, Jesus has a sense of humor as well. He has a real personality and sometimes I hear Him saying to me that I need to lighten up. Zephaniah says that He sings and dances over us with joy. He delights in us. In every little step of faith we take He is right there. Even when we don’t feel Him and all is silent it seems, be assured He hasn’t left you. He is growing you up. So when I lighten up and just allow Him to fill me with His personality I can seriously see myself through His eyes. And sometimes I look pretty ridiculous. But He is so loving and gentle with me, which makes me want to laugh with Him especially because I know He isn’t making fun of me. In actuality He is delighting in me. He delights in you too!!!