This past Friday night I finally got my chance to go on a backpacking trip for the season. A group of seven of us decided to go to Tuskegee National Forrest. This was my first time to this location so I was unfamiliar with the trails and layout. After doing a bit of research I found the trailhead that I wanted to start. The map showed easy terrain and lots of water along the trail, which made it a good start for a few in our group who had never been backpacking.
By the time we got to the trail and got our packs ready to go it was already dark. We had planned for this so everyone had his or her headlamps and we took off down the trail. The trail was marked with white, metal diamonds on various trees. We followed these and the many boardwalks that were built along the trail that made it a pleasant hike. The further we walked the more I realized all of the places where water should be were dried up. If that was not bad enough, seeing that we all only had a small portion of water each, we began to veer off from the trail. Before we realized it we were in the middle of the woods with no trail markers and no trail. We had gotten lost.
We all began to spread out and hike around looking for the nearest marker, but with no avail. We decided to hike back toward where we thought the trail we had just left was, but it wasn’t there either. After we realized it was no hope we decided to make camp and just figure out in the morning.
After the hammocks were up and fire was made, and everyone was sitting around talking I made the comment off handedly that I bet we were right next to the trail. Within minutes someone called out, “Hey! Look there is a marker!” Our campsite was right next to the trail without us even knowing it! Needless to say, we all felt dumb.
That night’s sleep was pleasant except for the owls and random drop of temperature. The next morning after we all had started to get up, my buddy came walking up from over a nearby ledge and says, “You will never believe what I found… There is a huge river right next to us!” Sure enough from my hammock I could have thrown a rock over the trail and into a huge river. Once again, ignorance took its point.
Now, what’s the point of me sharing this story? First, I just had to let you all into a funny camping trip that we got to experience, but the second reason has a little more meaning. Some how each one of my camping trips I have been on has some kind of spiritual application that can be made from it. How close is our spiritual life to this situation? Sometimes we step back and look at life and make lots of plans. We decide where we are going to go to school, who we are going to room with, who shall we date, what job should we find, and many other decisions. We make plans and set goals, and think we have it all figured out. Then we get on the trail. We may have the perfect picture of what the road looks like, but when you get on it and all you can see is as far as your light will shine, it is easy to get lost. You miss so many things. Our vision can be narrowed to just a little bit ahead of us, but on the peripheral we have no idea of what is coming or what is around us. Curve balls are thrown at us. If only we could have seen them coming!
We may fail a class, not get that second job interview, get turned down on a date, or lose a family member. These are on the peripheral, but catch our attention, which sometimes make us lose track of the trail we had planned. Those little markers disappear, and before we know it we are standing at a stand still not knowing where the trail is or what the plan will be next. That is when you just have to stop. You may need to put your plan on hold. Rework your goals. Maybe, sadly, start over new. The part that many people of this world miss is not taking that opportunity to enjoy where they are at and take advantage of the moment. You can truly find happiness even in those moments where everything may seem wrong. I guarantee you; if we had kept hiking when we were lost we would have ventured further and further away from the trail and into an unknown place. Just take a moment and stop where you are, and pray. In those chaotic life moments if you keep trying to do it yourself you are going to get lost and walk further and further away, but if you will enjoy the moment and give thanks to God in every situation you will be fine.
It is in those moments that we then can see the missed opportunities around us. If you will stop trying to find your way, you can let God light it up for you. You will see the trail right next to you. If you wait even longer and let God bring more light on the situation you will even find that great big river only a stones throw away. So, I encourage you no matter how far away you are from your path, to stop. Pray. Let God shine in the situation and you will find the river that leads to eternal life.
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18