Out of the Woods

My dad came for a visit. He hadn’t met our youngest two kiddos so he spent a couple days playing and spoiling them. You know, standard grandpa stuff.

We decided to spend the day at a state park. With a picnic lunch, we went and let the kids play on the playground and then for some reason decided it would be a good idea to walk on a couple hiking trails.

My husband and I had taken the kids out on one or two before and they loved it! I remembered doing nature walks with Dad as a kid, so I thought my dad and I could share that with the kids too. And the trails themselves were fairly short, only a mile or so.

So we started off and it was a good time. Everyone was enjoying nature. But a series of storms had done a lot of damage to trees along the trails. There were downed trees creating dead ends, washed out trails, and high water near the lake.

So we made a few turns to avoid obstacles, and some how went from the easy kid-friendly trail to the moderate to difficult trail… without a map… without our water bottles… And we got lost.

We snaked through the trees for a good two hours. The kids thought it was all good fun, and then we all started to get a little tired and grumpy. After he slipped in some squishy mud, my 3 year old was ready to be done with the hike that had gone on longer than we planned, but we still weren’t sure where we needed to go to get back to the main trail. So I looked at my muddy, crying, boy and said, “Son, we’re going to talk to God, and it’s going to be okay.”

I prayed with him there and as we walked, I prayed another silent prayer, “Lord, I’ve been selfish and proud. My arrogance has gotten us lost and if we don’t manage to get back soon, we’re going to be in a sorry state with no water. I repent Lord, of foolishness and pride and we need Your help. Please, send us a trail sign, or people, or a map. I thank You and praise You for Your sovereignty, God, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

We came to a section of trail where the lake had flooded over it. I told my Dad, “Let me go ahead and I’ll see where we can cross.”

Dad said, “Do you think that’s wise?”

Well, not particularly, but my knees and hips are a good 25 years younger and it will prevent the kids from walking through before we knew it was safe, so, I found a place where we could cross the flooded trail and get back to it. We walked a little further and then, I heard a boat.

I looked through the trees and got to a place where they could see me.

“Hey!!” I flagged them down. “We are lost! Do you know how to get back to the main trail?”

Incidentally, they did!

The couple pulled their boat toward us and helped us board. They gave us cold bottles of water and about a quart of fresh strawberries, which the kids devoured. There was juice streaming from their little faces. I looked at my boy, “Aren’t you glad we talked to God?”

With a mouth full of berries, he said, “mmm hmm!”

They took us by boat across the lake (which would have taken us a couple more hours with the littles in tow) to the end point of the exact trail we began on. We thanked them and let them know we had prayed for their help. The guy driving the boat said, “You went to the right source!”

They gave us a trail map and their phone number in case we got turned around again (we didn’t, thank you, Lord!) And we walked another 150 yards straight to our car. I was so moved by God’s provision and grace to us that I actually sang! I sang a hymn in the woods.

What a journey. What an answer to simple prayer. We were lost, but not to God. We hadn’t seen any other people for at least an hour and a half. But God knew exactly where we were.

It made me think how pointless the wandering was. Like the Israelites, wandering 40 years on a month long journey to the promised land!

Which begs the question, with Christians given Sonship by God through Jesus Christ, why do we so often choose to live like helpless wanderers? My God is mighty! And Sovereign! And He is gracious and good, and He hears and answers His children’s prayers, beyond all that I could ask or imagine!

Therefore, humble yourself before the Lord! Seek His face while He may be found and He is faithful to answer in mighty ways.

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