Lost in the woods of NH

“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” (Romans 2: 14-15 NIV)

My son is an avid hiker. When he first started hiking, his enthusiasm led him to choose unlikely hiking and woefully unprepared buddies to share the experience with him. On a few occasions, I ended up being part of his team. 

On a beautiful day in April, I accompanied him and his friends as they attempted a summit hike. We all knew I wouldn’t summit with them, but I would walk part of the trail with them, then wait for them. But we got a late start. The sun began to fade as I was waiting for them. I began to worry that they took a different trail back and were waiting for me back at the car. I went to look for them. 

I apparently found an old trail marker that led me along an abandoned path to a river. By then it was getting dark. I lost the trail. I ascended the slope of the riverbank to level ground and started walking in the dark. Then I heard the rush of a stream somewhere nearby. With hearing water now on 2 sides of me and being in the dark, I decided to stop and wait for either first light or rescue. I stopped at the base of a big, old pine tree and spent the night alone in the forest of the White Mountains.

Being lost is a desperate and humbling feeling. I sat condemning myself for my poor choices. I questioned what happened. I questioned what I could have done better. I prayed I wouldn’t get mauled by a bear as I sat alone in the dark. I felt bad for my son and his friends who would be worried about me. 

But, being lost is a hopeful feeling, too. It is the sense that there is one right path, even though every path you have tried was wrong.  There is a sense that you will be able to find your way eventually. The act of waiting implies an expectation that the waiting will end. Your calls for help implies an expectation of a rescuer. 

We look with horror at the decisions of the lost, to their decisions to choose false trailheads and errant paths. But all of us were once lost. We all have had false starts, we all have wandered from the path. All of us have gone astray. Some have put their hope in false rescuers. We who know Christ know that only He is hope fulfilled, only He is our rescue. The ones who are wandering are lost, but can be so close to finding rescue. They are looking. They are hoping. They are searching. And we can be a reliable trail marker to help them find the true path.

Written by Janet Keefe

Categories: Church Blog