“He squinted his eyes and shook his head as if to loosen a memory, “Yes, now I remember.” admitted Carl slowly. Carl, his wife, Beth, their children, spouses, and grandchildren were enjoying a camping family reunion to celebrate Carl and Beth’s fiftieth anniversary. Ten members of the group had decided to take a short afternoon hike. They had only gone about half a mile when they had stumbled off the main trail and onto a secondary trail. They had followed this trail for about a mile when they had come to a sign that indicated that Longview Lake was to the right, and Glacier Meadow was to the left. Most members of the group were from out-of-state and had no idea which direction they should go. Grandpa Carl had been on this trail several times but that had been almost thirty years ago. Now he was trying to remember which way would ultimately allow them to rejoin their party. It was already about four pm so they needed to get back soon. All of them had assigned chores for dinner.
“It’s this way,” Carl said with some assurance, “toward Longview Lake.”
“Are you certain, Dad?” asked Gil, his oldest son.
“Yeah, old man,” chimed in Pete, his son-in-law, “How long ago did you say you were on this trail?”
“About 30 years ago, but I’m certain now that this is the right direction. The other trail leads up over the divide.”
They started off in the direction of Longview Lake. They had only gone a few hundred yards when Candy, his youngest daughter noted, “Wow, this trail isn’t maintained very well.” I wonder if anyone uses it any more. It is overgrown with bushes and washed out in places. How far did you say we had to go to reach the campground?”
“About two miles, I believe. We should be able to see the campground from this ridge.”
They reached the ridge but the only view was of a valley filled with trees. There was no sign of civilization anywhere.
“That does it,” said Pete. You guys can continue to wander around in the trees down there if you want, but I’m going back the other way. Who’s with me?’
Candy, his wife, their three children and one of the cousins started back down the trail after Peter.
The others continued to slog along after Grandpa Carl for another half an hour. Then Gil spoke up again, “Look, Dad, you said it would be about two miles. Surely we have gone twice that distance. The longer we go in this direction, the farther we are getting from our group and our dinner. I am going after Gil.” The rest of the group joined him. That left only sixteen-year-old Elizabeth with Grandpa Carl.
“Come on, Elizabeth,” ordered her father.
“No,” stated Elizabeth stubbornly. “You go on. I am staying with Grandpa. He needs to have someone look after him.”
“Look, Dad,” said Gil. Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?
“Nope, I am almost certain that our campground is only a short distance in this direction.”
“Well, you can call us if you get in any trouble.”
When Gil was out of earshot, Carl spoke softly to Elizabeth. “Don’t you want to go with your Dad?”
“Well, yes, but no one should leave you out here in the woods alone even if you did spend years of your life here.”
“I don’t know, Elizabeth. I was certain that I choose the right direction, but then, well, I was beginning to wonder. A lot can change in thirty years including my memory. I have been asking God to guide us. That’s is a lot surer in my opinion than the memory of an old man.”
“Grandpa, that’s why I’m sticking with you. Won’t the others be embarrassed when they find out they’re wrong!”
“Actually, Elizabeth, I am worried about all of us. It will be totally dark in a few minutes. It gets dark much faster in these deep woods. Our whole family could be stranded out here without food, water, or protection from wild life and the cold night air. (It will get really cold tonight.) We can use our phones to call for help, but it may take a while for them to find us, and they may not be able to start the search until morning.” As if to emphasize his point, he zipped up his jacket.
The two hiked on in silence for a few minutes, then Elizabeth noticed a little rise in the trail up ahead. She ran to where she could over-look the valley ahead. In the fast-growing darkness she saw lights–the lights of the campground!! She bolted back down the trail where she found Grandpa resting on a log.
“Grandpa, I saw lights. We are almost there. You did hear from God!”
“If only the others had listened.”
“What! Aren’t you glad that we are almost back to the camp?”
“Yes, of course, but this also means that all the rest of my family may have to spend the night out-of-doors and at what cost? Let’s call the authorities to assemble a search team right now.”
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a
Voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV