First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Meeting on the mountain (Pt. 3).

February 6, 2017

    I was probably 14 or 15 the first time I was genuinely lost in the woods. Thankfully, I was with my brother in law. We were hunting in an area we both thought we knew pretty well. I was adamant I knew where we were and how we could get back to the truck. And so, we walked. And walked. And walked.

    When things began to not look familiar and our sense of direction was no longer working, we both began to question our next steps. But, we kept walking. We considered using the distress signal, but figured no one would notice the evenly spaced gunshots.  When it was all said and done, we walked about 13 miles that day and when we dragged our carcasses back to the truck late that afternoon, our day was done. We were done.

    I know you must be thinking, "Why didn't you just turn around and retrace your steps to get back to the truck?"  Therein lies the million dollar question and a core issue of unbridled pride. When one thinks they know what they are doing even when it is apparent they may not, then pride blinds them from an easy way forward. We hang onto our stubborn spirit and plunge ahead to our own demise. 

 The other day out in Greenwood Furnace I had a similar experience occur. The trail wound its way up over rocky terrain and the snow covered trail began to accumulate other sets of tracks. Deer tracks appeared along with what I believed to be coyote tracks. So now there were old tracks from a hiker, their dog, some fresh deer and coyote tracks. Great, it will be easier to NOT get lost.

    I disengaged reason and stopped looking at all the tracks and missed the turn in the trail. I followed the deer tracks that I nonchalantly mistook for the previous hiker.  After about 30 yards, I looked down and did not see human tracks anymore. Um, okay, no biggie. I know I am still going up and somewhere out in front of me is the destination. I'm sure of it. I did backtrack a bit to try to locate the old hiker tracks to no avail.

    I began a careful crisscross walk back and forth from one side of the ridge to the other. Nothing!  At this moment, I re-engaged my brain and thought, "if this hike goes sideways, I can always turn back and follow my steps back down off this mountain."  I kept the sun to my left and continued the upward climb. I continued to criss cross the ridge looking carefully for the lost trail. After another 150 yards or so, I moved to my left and then BOOM! there it was. A bit of relief swept over me, I paused to take a drink of water and finished the hike to the vista.

    I'm sure you don't ever struggle with stubborn pride. For those of us who do, God will often use these 'ticks' in our personality to offer a lesson in humility. I received one of those timely lessons on this hike. It is sobering to admit when I have overstepped my knowledge base and often it takes moments of failure like this for God to get our attention. Admission of these quirks is our first step toward a more faithful walk with God and a spiritual growth spurt.

    Remember, it isn't 'if' we will ever get lost because of pride, but more like 'when' we do. Use these times of weakness to allow God's spirit to excise some of that self-centeredness. It might be a bit uncomfortable but will always strengthen us and get us back on the right path.

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