Lost in the Woods

This week is my family’s vacation. Yesterday, my wife, my son, my youngest daughter, and I went to hike at a state park not too far from home. Over the years, my wife and I have visited the park together multiple times, and have even taken the older kids who are now all but grown. So, it seemed time to take the youngest two.

We started the morning by hiking down the side of the mountain on several hundred steps to look up from the bottom of the waterfalls. They were beautiful. Then, there was a hike back up. It was tiring and daunting. But, we made it and were glad to break for lunch.

After lunch, we decided to take a scenic trip around the top of the canyon, a trail I nearly lost my wife to many years before. She was walking while looking through a camera and nearly walked off the side of the mountain. I grabbed her just in time and had to carry her back to safety. She was too scared to move until her feet were firmly planted on the trail. This time would be different, however. We left the camera at home.

We made our way along the trail enjoying the views that God created. Then, it happened—my daughter had to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, this type of bathroom need would require toilet paper, which we didn’t bring. We hiked to the nearest bathroom, which seemed forever. It was actually decent timing, because it gave us a break and allowed us to get some water and refresh.

Upon completion, my wife had a grand idea. We were all hot and ready to be done. So, she suggested we hike down the road until we were closer and cut back to the trail at the closest point. Looking at the map, this little change would cut at least a mile out of trip, maybe two. I agreed and we were off. When we arrived at the last camping site, we knew it was time to cut through and find the trail. I looked at the trail map and knew exactly where we were and where we needed to be. I had even pointed out the campsite from the trail earlier, on the way in.

As we were cutting through the woods, my wife began to doubt me. She demanded the map. I showed her. That wasn’t enough. She demanded pulling the map up on her phone. She did and thought another direction was right. I showed her that she was holding the map on her phone wrong. (She apologized—reluctantly.) But, we were back on the correct heading, following my original path. Less than two minutes later, she’s heading another direction again, insisting we should have found it by then. I knew we were close and kept going in the same direction, while keeping an eye on my wife and daughter who traveled away from me.

Within moments, my son and I were standing next to the correct path, which I announced. My beloved wife and daughter turned and started heading our direction, phone and map still in hand while she continued to glance down at it. It wasn’t until she was standing next to me, staring at the path with her own eyes that she put her phone away.

While the whole ordeal had amused me, I was somewhat hurt by it. I am the man that had saved her life on that very mountain about eight years earlier. I’m the man who had lead her many more times through the woods, even without a trail. I am the man that she turns to when she has any problem she can’t fix.

In that very moment, God showed me a part of himself. He, just as I was in that moment, stands pointing to the path that leads the way home for us. And, He watches us search for alternatives in our vain attempts to control our lives and the lives of those around us. And, while I knew the way, God is the way.

If Shaunna (my wife) had continued to go her own way, she would have been lost, and my daughter with her. She was heading into a large wilderness with no trails or roads. Eventually, she may have found her way out. Still, she wouldn’t have know where she was until someone told her or showed her. In her struggle for control, she had gotten completely turned around.

We all do that! Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

God reminded me to keep my eyes on him, no matter what is going on around me. He will guide me to exactly where He wants me to be. So, pray for me and for all brothers and sisters in Christ, that we keep our eyes on Him when the world we live in gets us turned around and confused.

Oh, and I learned something else. Hiking isn’t as easy as it was ten years ago. I think the mountains are taller now.

God bless,

Kenyon T. Henry

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