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Faith Bloopers | Christian Living

Lost in the Wilderness

Christina Walker

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rain.


The last thing in the world I needed.


Twenty-some miles off the closest paved roadway and an hour outside any cell service range I was lost.  By myself.  And it was getting dark.


And then the rain came.


Born with an adventurous spirit, my kryptonite is wonderlust.  Camping, hiking, star-gazing, wooded frisbee golf, dinosaurs, late-night conversations, zoos, museums, and travel, just to name a few of my passions.  If you ever want to date me, just take me somewhere new and say you love Doctor Who.  We’ll probably end up married!  Unfamiliar places, things, and people just excite me.  And being in nature is where I feel most whole.


So when I found out that I could go on a free camping trip

to a part of Colorado I’ve never been before,

    with a group of exciting people I’d never met before,

         to do trail restoration by creating a pathway that has never been walked on before,

I signed up faster than Comic-Con tickets sell!  


For you non-nerds, that’s about as quickly as the mobs used to stampede into a store at 6am on Black Friday, before the big-wigs of corporate America decided that Black Friday actually begins before Thanksgiving dinner does.


I did everything I could think of to prepare.  All my usual camping gear was packed weeks in advance, and a few new things I bought were handled like the hidden treasures of El Dorado.  I printed off Google directions and the map I was given by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.  Borrowed my mom’s Trail Blazer (my little Buick was NOT going to make it in the backcountry) and hit the road after a delicious birthday lunch with my family.


Everything was going perfectly, until I came to a T-intersection in Deckers, where I had to turn left or right.  But neither option matched the name of the road Google told me to turn on.  Pulling into a nearby corner store, I asked an intimidating looking woman (the only person I could find) for directions.  She told me that Google always got the name of the road wrong.  She gave me step-by-step instructions on how to get to the campground.  A couple miles later, I pulled off the last paved road onto the gravel that would lead me to my final destination, the Lost Creek Wilderness.  


A famous site, though you wouldn’t have guessed with how poorly the signs guide newcomers.


The first big hiccup came when the Google directions told me to turn onto non-existent roads with names that were not marked in real-life.  For a short while, I attempted to follow the directions the nice lady at the corner store told me, even though her directions didn’t align with the Google directions.  And despite the fact that my memory of what she had told me was fading quickly.  


I drove for about 30 minutes on a tight, curving gravel road.  Branches grabbed the Trailblazer as I inched my way further and further into no-man’s land.  At one point, I rounded a curve going 10mph, and the gravel was so loose that the Blazer began to slide toward the cliff a few feet to my left.  Terrified, I logicked that a well-travelled road to a famous site in Colorado would not have such poor road conditions.  I drove another 2 miles until a section of the road was wide enough for me to make an 8-point turn around.


Abandoning the Google maps, I pulled out the VOC directions, which were vague at best and flat-out-wrong at worst.  I didn’t know that at first, of course.  Going back to where the gravel first began and following the VOC directions, I was led to a dead end.  


Retreating once again, I noticed that the sun was getting close to the tops of the mountain peaks.  I needed to find this campground. Deciding to take a right rather than a left at the first fork, despite what the directions said, I was thrilled that the directions suddenly made sense again on the new road.  


Kind of.  


When told to drive for 2 miles to make the next turn, it was actually 8 miles.  And the next left was supposed to be in 5 miles, which in reality was 12.  Finally, taking that last left brought me to a very picturesque Dude Ranch with kids running, dad’s barbecuing with beers in hand, and wive’s happily chatting on the wrap-around porches of giant, cabin-styled mansions.  


Clearly, this was not the place I was meant to be.  Embarrassed, I turned around and drove back to the first fork in the road.  Determined that I had somehow missed the correct turn, I drove even more slowly so that I would see my route when it came up.  Once again I ended at the Dude Ranch, and once again I turned around.  


Along the route, I noticed a sign for another campground.  Impulsively, I took this road.  I figured, “Hey, the VOC directions just say campground at the Goose Creek trailhead, they don’t say that the campground name is Goose Creek Campground.  Maybe THIS is the campground I’m looking for.”


I could have saved so much time and gas if an old, bearded man in a brown cloak had showed up, waving his hand in front of me and saying, “This is not the campground you are looking for…”


Unfortunately, no wise Jedi corrected me.  Eventually I realized I had left my route for a destination that I knew was not the one I was destined for.  So I got back to the original fork in the road for a fourth time and followed the VOC directions, not sure what else to do.


The tires pulled in at the Dude Ranch again.  The sun was touching the peaks now, and ominous clouds hung low overhead.  Terrified of being lost in the dark on the winding, narrow, gravel mountain roads alone and without cell phone service, I swallowed my pride and approached one of the men to ask for directions.


“Hello!  I’m lost, I’m looking for the Goose Creek Campground.  Can you help me?”


“The what? I’ve never heard of it.  Umm, hold on.”


Calling over a buddy, the second guy was able to give me directions, telling me to take a right at the last fork in the road instead of a left.  Then continue for about 8 miles and the campground would immediately follow a bridge.  Thanking him, I turned around again for hopefully the last time and headed into the unknown.


I found myself on the same road that I had originally been on when I turned around the first time.  Angry at myself for not trusting the nice lady 2 hours previously, the clouds opened up and the Blazer was pounded with an onslaught of rain.  And I still wasn’t entirely sure that I was actually on the correct road.


When I finally reached the campground, I saw no host.  So I stopped to quickly ask another camper if I was in the correct place.  Thankfully, she was married to one of the men that would be helping on our project.  Unfortunately, I still had another several miles to drive up the road.  The VOC group was not staying at this campground, but rather at a much smaller, undesignated campground at the trailhead.  This guy was staying at the larger campground with his family for the night.


Fifteen minutes later when I pulled in at last to the small campground, a flood of relief engulfed me.  I knew that I was in the right place at last.  Pitching my tent at lightening speed in a torrent of rain as the last few minutes of dusk prevailed before complete darkness surrounded me, I realized that my journey to the campsite had been much like our journeys as followers of Christ in an ungodly world.


“If you don’t know where you’re going,

any road will get you there.”  

~Lewis Carroll


The first step in achieving God’s direction in our lives is knowing where we want to end up.  Remind yourself daily of your life goal to live according to His purpose.  And His purpose is for each of us to spend our days in His presence, and being examples of His love to the world.  


Some will achieve that through becoming pastors and missionaries, some will be nurses, counselors, teachers.  Others may be witnesses from behind the cash register, working in an office, making music that airs over the radio, or writing.  Some are called to be mothers and fathers, housewives, or church council members.  Whatever your calling, remember that it’s not just a job, volunteer experience, or family role for you to make money or have life experiences.  It is the manner in which God has called you to witness.  So shine that light!


“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone is the same God at work.”

1 Corinthians 11:27 (TNIV)


When we lose sight of where we are going, we might end up taking the wrong paths that don’t lead to Him.  Make sure you’re not living more for fame, fortune, admiration, or worldly success.  We can easily become distracted by these other destinations, but none of them lead to where Christ is.  Just like I took the wrong path for a campground that I knew was not the correct one, we can get flustered and start chasing after goals that seem nice on the outside, but in reality are not the place God is calling us to.


“You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24b (TNIV)


“Am I now trying to win human approval, or God’s approval?

Or am I trying to please people?

If I were still trying to please people,

I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Galatians 1:10 (TNIV)


In my journey up the mountain, I was lead astray by false maps and incorrect directions.  (Curse you Google Maps!!)  As Christians, we must make sure to follow the only map we know is accurate: the Bible.  In the scriptures, we are taught and guided on how to live Godly lives.  So open up that dusty Bible and get to know your God!  


Memorize scriptures so that when the world and Satan try to lead you astray (Oooo - Shiny!) you recognize the trap.  Listen to church leaders that base their teachings on scripture.  Not on what the organized church has traditionally done.  If centuries of tradition are not backed by the Word of God, then realign yourself with the Scriptures and find a new place to worship.  


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting,

and training in righteousness,

so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (TNIV)


When troubles surround you and seem overwhelming, don’t be afraid.  Your God is bigger than the storm and He will get you through.  I was absolutely terrified as I saw the dark clouds growing, the light fading, the forest encroaching on the road, miles of trail with no end or help in sight, feeling alone, and not having cell service.  My problems seemed insurmountable as I was lost in the wilderness.  I considered turning around and going home.


Don’t give up.  Even when you think things cannot get worse (they always can), if you follow God then you will pull through.  Ask for help, just like I did.  Don’t be afraid to voice your insecurities, troubles, lost direction.  Fellow believers are traveling the same road you are, facing many of the same or similar difficulties.  Even if they don’t show it on the outside at first.  


As I was driving around lost, multiple vehicles passed going in various directions.  We never stopped to talk.  The next day at camp, I found out that several of these vehicles contained my fellow volunteers, who were also lost due to the poor map directions.  Only half the expected group size arrived.  I suspect there were a few volunteers that made attempts to find the campsite, became lost, and simply returned home.  We could have found camp easier, and with less stress, had we stopped to seek help and support from one another.  And maybe more people would have made it.


So to sum up:


1. Keep yourself focused on your end goal: living life in fellowship with Jesus and showing His love to the world.


“You are the light of the world.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14 (TNIV)


2. Use the Bible to guide your life and relationship with Christ.  Base your judgements on the accuracy of other Christian teaching by comparing to the scriptures.


“...you have known the Holy Scriptures,

which are able to make you wise for salvation

through faith in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 3:15 (TNIV)


3. Don’t give up.  Don’t be afraid.  Trust in God, He will get you through if you remain in Him.

“God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 (TNIV)


4. Seek and provide support to and from fellow Christians.  We each must make the personal decision to live for Christ each day, but we were never meant to do it alone.


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,

just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (TNIV)