Spring cleaning started early this year at my house. When I pulled out a box of old photos (and by “old photos” I mean “slides”) from the attic, I found an old picture of me. I was at the top of a black diamond ski run at Badger Pass in Yosemite posing for a selfie with a sign that said “DANGER! DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT!” Finding that picture sure brought back some memories. . . . .
Standing on that mountaintop, I felt like I could conquer the world! I decided to disregard the sign, and go my own way. I skied beyond the sign with a grand plan of skiing down the backside of the mountain, then back around to the front. It didn’t quite turn out as I had planned.
The terrain was rugged. There were no carefully cleared and maintained runs on the backside of Badger Pass. It was wild — wild and scary and steep. About halfway down the mountain (head over heels half the time), I realized that it was a bad idea. I took off my skis and tried to hike back up. The snow was too deep and, without my skis on, I sunk nearly to my waist with every step. I had no choice but to put my skis back on and go down.
It began to snow. Soon it was a blizzard. The blizzard turned into a white-out. A white-out is when the ground and sky and everything in between are white. This terrible blizzard dropped 9 feet of snow. There was no shelter, nowhere to go, no “sign” to follow, no way out.
“A SIGN!” I said to myself, “Yes, that’s the answer; leave a sign for rescuers to see!” Laying my skis on the snow in the shape of an “X,” I hoped a rescue helicopter would see them and come help me. Within 2 minutes, my skis were buried. I stuck them in the snow so they formed a big standing “X,” but that too was overcome with snow and of no use. There was nothing more to do. Tired and freezing, I just wanted to sit down and go to sleep. I didn’t care if I died out there, I couldn’t go on, and it was getting dark fast. The white-out was turning into a black-out.
There was a huge fallen tree nearby that I thought could provide shelter. With frozen hands, I placed pine branches over the fallen tree to form a cave like lean-to and covered the branches with packed snow to make a solid shelter. I stood my skis up against the fallen tree in case someone was looking for me, and went inside my little shelter. Never had I felt so tired and lethargic, and my arms and legs felt like limbs of lead. Now settled in my snow cave, I became very warm and comfortable – too comfortable. I took off my jacket, my beanie, boots and gloves, and ate some snow. “Someone will find me,” I thought. “I just have to stay awake and listen for the search party.” Exhaustion, dehydration, and hypothermia set in, and soon I fell into a very deep and dangerous sleep.
“Was someone calling my name?” I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I heard it again — someone was calling my name! I tried to answer but my throat was too dry and I was so weak that I couldn’t produce much more than a croak. I kept trying to respond, croaking and coughing, and finally I heard the words I’ll never forget, “We hear you! Keep calling! We’re coming!”
Before long, I heard the rescue party digging and they pulled me out of the snow cave, which was now buried beneath nine feet of fresh snow. They wrapped me in blankets and gave me water and a Snickers Bar. They found me! They rescued me! When I came out of the snow cave I was surprised that the sky was full of bright shining stars and a full moon, and the snow had stopped falling! “Of course it stopped snowing,” I thought to myself. “All the snow in heaven’s store-house fell last night!”
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4
How often I ask God to give me a sign, to direct my path and give me wisdom and guidance — a spiritual road map to help me find the way through a storm. How often I accuse God of not showing up when I need Him, of not answering my prayers, or not giving me a sign when I need it. Then I remember my night on Badger Pass, and the sign that I ignored. Then humbly I ask God to guide my steps, guard my heart, and lead me in the way He desires for me to go. In His loving way, He reminds me (again) that the roadblocks, signs, and detours are for my own good, and I need to trust Him, and obey Him. Those times when I think God didn’t show up, the reality is, I walked on without Him. I need to heed the signs, not take selfies with them!
Have you ever felt like you needed a sign from God? Have you ever pushed your way beyond the sign to go your own way? Have you ever taken a selfie as you walk right past God’s instruction? If so, you’re in good company, and we have a loving Shepherd who will pursue us when we fail to hear His voice. He will recognize our croaking voice when we call His name, and He will say, “I hear you! Keep calling! I’m coming!”
“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand . . . ” John 10:26-28
Lord, forgive me for too often asking You to guide me and then going my own way. Thank you Father, for pursuing me even in my disobedience and disregard for You. Thank You for finding me! Thank You for rescuing me!