There are few things more terrifying than feeling like you are truly lost. Not lost in a neighborhood looking for someone’s house. Not lost like straying away from camp, but still within earshot of help. What I mean is truly, and helplessly lost. So lost that no one can hear you. So lost that nothing looks familiar. So lost that you feel helpless, and truly alone. That is terror. It’s harder and harder to actually get lost today. GPS and other devices help us stay along the paths. The help us navigate to places we have never been before in a calm, clear voice. We’re hardly ever alone, and lost.
But it still happens. People try to escape the everyday, and leave their GPS and smartphones behind to get as close as possible to being lost, but stay safe. Sometimes people cross the line that divides safe and lost, never to return. Adventurers and weekend warriors have been pushing their own boundaries for decades, with large numbers of success. So what happens to get people lost? How is this possible in our modern country today?
I recently read a story about a P.E. Teacher from Seattle that got lost for a week inside Olympic National Park fighting for her life. She had planned on climbing Mt. Rainier, but her partner canceled at the last minute, so she changer her plans. Mary O’Brien left Seattle with every intention of buying a topographical map of the area she was hiking. Her plans included an 18.8 mile loop through the North American Rain forest. Thirty hours in, she was crossing cat creek with white water surging beneath her, she was bruised, and starting to hallucinate. A few hours earlier she had encounter an early fog, darkness, and snow. Mary slipped in the darkness and as she climbed back up to the trail, she took a wrong turn.
What followed was a week long survival expedition. She was running out of food, and conditions were getting worse. She climbed up the side of a nearby mountain and started signaling for help with her headlamp. When no one responded, she took a compass bearing, and set a straight coarse for the lights. Mary eventually came to a lake where some boaters rescued her, but her story is our story in life.
We go through life with out really thinking things out. Planning for the treacherous journey, and making sure we stay on the trails. Mary failed to bring a map, or even leave a note in her parked car, so no one knew where she was. No one could even look for her. So often we stray off God’s path. We slip and fall, get disoriented, and try to pull ourselves back up. Only to find they we have wandered so far off the course, we start hallucinating visions in the wrong direction. We end up chasing ghosts, and wind. When were lost, the sense of panic sets in and we make worse decisions. Mary decided she needed to climb up to see light. She got her bearings, and went straight for it, no more side trails, no more change of direction, no more wandering.
If you feel lost, you can look out and see God. Maybe you can even remember where you strayed, but can’t get back now. So what can you do? You start by looking in the right place. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” ESV. Then go to Him. Mary knew she needed a map, something that would have guided her to safety. We have not just a map, but a living God. John 16:13 Jesus tells us, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.” NLT. Our map is a person. A guide to truth. Truth that is contained in the Bible.
Mary O’Brein was found by boaters that carried her to the lights that she saw shining in the darkness long ago. As the church, who are you finding that is lost. Wandering around in the darkness, longing for God. They might be bruised, broken, and so lost that their minds are playing tricks on them, but they need a rescue.
Make today the day you look for lights. Today the day you want to get out onto the path. You can be rescued, and He has a name, it is Jesus.
Story of Mary O’Brien can found on the backpacker.com site under the survival tab.