It was a gloomy, drab afternoon — the kind that’s just depressing. A veil of darkness slowly began to shroud the thick forest of spiraling trees as a young girl with wispy, long hair wandered on a forlorn path. Her skirt was dusty; her jacket rumpled. She was all alone, unsure of where she was heading.
That girl was me.
It was a frigid winter several years ago, when my family and I journeyed to Northern California to attend a science camp. The first days were brimming with fun, learning, and laughter. Towards the middle of the week, one of our activities was to take the dreaded, inevitable hike. Dutifully, my friends and I trekked up the ascending trail. Along the way, we buoyed our spirits by chatting. But on the way back down, I made a very poor decision.
Several of the high schoolers had gotten permission to run ahead of our party. Being an adoring little girl who loved to be as much like the “big kids” as possible, I followed. In my young, naive mind, I pictured myself being cooed over and praised repeatedly for keeping up with them. Eagerly, I quickened my steps.
But reality is often quite different from one’s dreams. The teenagers were quicker, stronger, and had the endurance that I (unfortunately) did not. 😑 They jogged faster and faster – until they were out of sight. Panting, I rounded a few bends, hoping to catch up.
But I was alone.
Hesitantly, I kept walking.
And walking. My feet grew weary with doubt and fear. A sudden crash in the woods sent my heart pounding. My vivid imagination burst free from behind weak bars of hope.
Would I have to sleep in the deep, dark woods?
What would I eat?
Would I freeze to death?
There were no answers. Soon, I reached the beginning of the trail, where we had started the hike. A grassy meadow lay before me; to my right, empty cabins. Silently, I paced the area – first this way, then that. My undeveloped mind over-panicked (if that’s even a word) and started to go hyper-crazy. I realized that there was no other option. I bowed my head and closed my eyes.
“Dear God,” I whispered in my head, “I don’t know what to do. I’m all alone, in this forest. Please, I need Your help. Amen.” I finished the short prayer and blinked for a few seconds, waiting for a reply. Then,
“Go back up the trail.”
The voice was loud and distinct in my head, so loud that I whirled around, looking for the person who had spoken. Surprised, I questioned the air. “Go….back?”
“Go back,” the voice persisted. Obediently, I began plodding up the road again. I had not gone far when the sound of familiar voices reached my ears. Delighted, I swiftly ran toward my friends! Surrounding me, they claimed that they had been calling my name repeatedly. But I knew that I had heard another Voice – the Voice of my Heavenly Father.