I could hear Lester Holt saying, “A Texas couple goes missing on a one mile hike in Arches National Park.”
Our families would panic. The tragic story would hit newsstands in San Antonio and all over the world. They’d hold a vigil at our U-Haul before towing it to Moab and selling all of my great-grandfather’s furniture at a high price.
Every Montanan would laugh at yet another story of Texan idiocy.
When the dark trail seems to vanish, you do the only logical thing you can. You circle the wide boulder over and over again and hope to find the trail.
Each time we’d thought we’d found it, we found that the rock only sloped into a cluster of treetops or a small drop-off. (I’ve only scrambled down mountainsides twice in search of lost trails. Don’t. It never works out.) We tried to distinguish between false trails and the real thing. I cursed the National Park System for its lack of adequate signage.
I could not take in the Milky Way now, the way the sheltering spray of celestial beings watched us from heights unfamiliar with earthly trivialities. I could not even stop to remind myself God knew where the trail was and we’d find it, and that forgetting where to go next was no reason to become unglued. No. In Arches National Park , my fear choked out reason. And then, Zach found the trail.
It was a long walk back to the U-Haul. When we crossed the bridge over a creek full of bullfrogs, I felt relief. It was all over. We were back to where I knew we’d eventually end up.
I looked up again and felt guilt. I’d done it again. I’d let an irrational internal struggle get the best of me. I’d ruined the spontaneous experience of a lifetime for myself and perhaps for Zach.
I wish I could say that since that experience, I’m a recovered worrier, that I never miss the beauty in a challenge.
I am not a recovered worrier. Repentant, yes. Growing, yes. But not fully recovered.
You and I know what worry and fear can steal. We know it well.
We know what it’s like to look back and say, “wow, I missed out on peace because I was worried. And for nothing.” Or, “what I feared was less miserable than fear itself.”
We know that we must give up those little beasts so as to savor the grace in every experience, whether easy or challenging.
We know, we know, we know.
I know it well. So, God has revealed something new about my struggle with worry and fear: there are more panic-stricken lost trail moments on the way. I am not home yet. I cannot expect to be perfect when I am still here on earth still undergoing sanctification.
But, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can be refined, even now. There’s no need to beat myself up for not having learned the “worry and fear” lesson for the absolute last time.
No lesson is wasted, and, added up, they are a collage of God’s faithfulness – a vast array of God’s incredible grace guiding us from above.
Note: If you wonder at the word sanctification, don’t be afraid to contact me. If you go Googling that crazy word, it will lead you on quite the goose chase.