Long ago, back in the days of my Scouting adventures, my troop and I ventured into the vast wilderness below Mt. Hood. We were having just a great time and, being the adventurous boys we are, wanted a little more excitement than just camping by a lake. That’s when we found him.
We met this elderly man, living in a trailer overgrown with plant life, deep in the woods at the base of Mt. Hood. We began talking and were informed of these great caves in the old lava flows just a half hour hike up the mountain. Naturally, we were enthralled and completely trusted this stranger in the woods. He very kindly drew us a napkin map, we thanked him and said goodbye, and we were off!
Everything was great! Everyone was having a blast, even when we had been hiking for half an hour… a full hour… then two hours…
That’s when we finally accepted that our “macho-man” navigational skills might not have been enough to help us find the caves. Even with the amazing accuracy of our scribbled napkin map, we could not find our way to the caves or our way back. Being the amazing scouts we were, we instantly whipped out a compass and began following that. After walking for some time, we realized the compass pointed any direction we pointed it, not north. As fate would have it, the lava rocks were magnetic. We were now lost in the lava flow. It was getting late enough in the day that we started thinking more about surviving the night than finding our way home. But our group was ill prepared for an overnight stay in the mountains. I personally was wearing my T-shirt, a pair of shorts, and proudly carrying my sheath knife on my hip. The others were dressed similarly as the day had started bright, sunny, and warm. However, the day was no longer bright, sunny, or warm, as it had begun to rain.
This is when we were finally humbled enough to pray for help. After offering our prayer, we began to feel a sense of safety. And with that came a new plan. We would then divide into three groups. One group of those who couldn’t afford to walk further in the wrong direction. Another group, to scout the way home, made up of those who were thought to have the best sense of direction and memory of landmarks. The last group, my group, was for those who were still somehow energetic enough to run back and forth between the other two groups delivering messages of where to go. This new plan was extremely effective. We were very rapidly progressing towards more and more places we recognized. As we got closer to camp, the rain began to come down harder than ever. Jokingly, my Dad shouted into the sky “Is that all you’ve got?!”. And of course, it immediately began to hail. Yes, hail. We eventually found our way off the mountain later that night.
We all learned a lot from this experience. One, God will always help us, but he won’t make life easy. If life didn’t have trials what would we learn? If we had been instantly teleported to camp after our prayer, what would we have learned? Because he inspired us in a way to get home, we learned to trust the still small voice of the spirit. We also learned that God has a sense of humor, how else can you explain hail right after that comment on a day that had been clear blue skies just a little earlier? We couldn’t have made it off that mountain that night without His help. No one knew to look for us, we still had almost a full week until we were even expected to get back from camp. I know God loves each and every one of us. He is always watching over us and will help us no matter how silly of a mistake we make. Isn’t that great? We can always turn to Him for help.
We tried again to find the caves the next day, and found the caves!
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