I spent three hours working through a research problem, and I needed to stretch my legs and clear my mind.
“Precious, “I’m going for a short walk. Would you like to go with me?”
“It’s 9 o’clock, it’s dark, it’s cold, and no. I don’t want to go for a walk.”
“The walk will be good for you.”
“It’ll be better for me to stay warm here in the RV.”
“Okay; I’ll be back in ten or fifteen minutes. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Take your jacket.”
I didn’t take the jacket because it was still 69 degrees outside; but I didn’t realize it was so dark! I turned on the RV porch light but it is quite dim, and I couldn’t see the moon. Oh well, I’ll just step carefully, and my feet will let me know where the path is.
After walking about twenty paces past the car, I quickly stopped. Something wasn’t right.
I reached out with my right hand and felt prickly pine needles that I couldn’t see. I also couldn’t see my hand. I rubbed my foot on the ground and discovered I was off the path. Because it was dark and I didn’t use the porch light as a point of reference, I hadn’t walked in a straight line.
Well, what do you know? I thought. I’m off the road. My plan didn’t work out the way I thought it would. Hmmm … Carol might gloat over this.
I looked around and saw the RV porch light, but I still couldn’t find the moon. (I later discovered it hiding behind some clouds.)
Walking toward the light, I returned to the RV.
“I thought you were going to be gone for ten or fifteen minutes. What happened? Where’s your jacket?”
“I didn’t need the coat, but it’s a good thing you didn’t go with me.”
“I know: it’s cold and dark.”
Here comes the gloating.
“Believe-it-or-not, Precious, unless I was looking toward the RV, I couldn’t see my hand in front of me.”
“You were smart to come back. I told you it was … oh, never mind. You want some coffee?”
She didn’t gloat. I love her! “Yes, thank you.”
That three-minute episode in the dark reminded me of a recent news report. A man on a 4-day back-country hike found the body of a woman who had been missing for over two months. Apparently, she didn’t file a plan with the forest rangers, nor had she told friends or family where she planned to hike; and a compass was not in her backpack.
Without proper planning, it is easy to get lost!
What do we need for a successful outing? First, tell someone where you’re going.
Next, REI co-op (https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html) lists ten essential things: navigation (such as map, compass, GPS, etc.), headlamp and extra batteries, sun protection, first aid kit, knife, fire-starters, shelter, extra food, water, and clothing.
The REI author said, “The exact items from each system that you take can be tailored to the trip you’re taking. For example, on a short day hike that’s easy to navigate you might choose to take a map, compass and PLB, but leave your GPS and altimeter behind. On a longer, more complex outing, you might decide you want all those tools to help you find your way. When deciding what to bring, consider factors like weather, difficulty, duration, and distance from help.”
That is good advice, but many people are short-sighted and don’t invest the time to learn about it.
I find the same goes for people traversing this journey we call life. They are raised to fend for themselves and fight to get ahead – often by stepping on others. But they do not plan for the longer journey: the one that begins at death. Without planning for this final trip, it is easy to get lost – permanently.
What do we need? The map is the Bible and is also our most valuable point of reference. Food and water are wisdom and knowledge we learn in the Bible. The headlamp is the Holy Spirit; He will help us see life properly and walk straight. Clothing is the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, and the rest of the spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6:11-18. God, Himself, is our shelter.
Your most important trip is ahead of you. Plan well for it by reading the Bible and learning to live for the Lord. Walk toward the Light.