Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Life Happens. Expect It.

Dear Friends,

When I was much younger, stronger and far more reckless than I am today, my yearly vacation from my stress-filled job was to go backpacking in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in Oregon. Kalmiopsis was the most rugged and remote wilderness area I could find. It had rushing rivers to cross, deep canyons, extreme elevation changes, rock ridges you had to climb and it was known for its rattlesnakes. I would go in alone for a week and never met another backpacker. Backpacker Magazine had deemed the southern portion of Kalmiopsis too rugged and dangerous for backpackers. That made it the perfect place for me because I wanted to be alone. 

In the Kalmiopsis Wilderness every day was a victory of survival. Where I pushed myself to the breaking point to discover my limitations. Where I was able to do some deep soul searching. Where I always met God.

Back at the office I would be asked, “Did you ever get lost?” Of course I did! When you are finding your way through a wilderness area using unmarked trails, animal trails and sometimes your own “shortcuts” you get lost. You don't know where you are. There is disorientation and confusion but never fear. There is no fear because an experienced backpacker expects to get lost!

You have tools like a compass and topographical maps but when your survival is at stake you don't rely on what can be lost or broken. So you study the sun – always knowing its position in the sky at every time of the day. If you are lost, the position of the sun will help you to become reoriented. You know that well-traveled animal trails often lead to water. You know that the North Star points north. You have faith that no matter how lost you find yourself at the moment, you have the ability to reorient yourself. And, even when I wasn't certain where I was going, I was always going somewhere and God always knew where I needed to be!

In life transitions we can sometimes feel lost and disoriented. We don't know where we are at the moment and may not even know where we need to be. We may feel lost and uncertain about which direction to go. We may even feel frightened and fearful as we look toward our future. Both big and little upsets in life are all so.. er.. unexpected!

In the wilderness, when you expect to be lost, you won't panic when you are. When you have pre-pared to be lost and have equipped yourself with tools for survival, you are never lost for long.  When you are prepared, you have the confidence that you’ll never be so lost that you'll step off a cliff into a canyon or wander in the wilderness forever. You fully trust that no matter how lost you get, you'll always find your way again.

In 2013, expect to be lost!  Expect you will feel lost and disoriented. Expect a life transition. Expect a serious situation you’ve not planned for. Expect the Enemy of this world to throw you a curve. Expect a crisis of faith: Is God really here with me now?  Life happens. Expect it. Prepare for it.

Prepare yourself now with the tools at hand. Your Bible is the compass and map that shows you where you are and how to get to where you need to be. Look for and follow in the tracks of the saints that lead to the Living Water. And study the Son. Know where He is at all times in your life. Know what His voice sounds like. Know what the leading of the Holy Spirit feels like. No matter how lost you become, when you have studied the Son, you'll always know the direction in which to go.

Life is rugged. Expect to be lost. Expect to find your way again. Expect victory for He is with you when you're lost in the valley and He's there when you're dancing again on the top of the mountain.