Lost

Boats Afloat

Sunset in the Gulf Islands

Another life lesson here:

I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks. My husband and I were in British Columbia on our boat. This summer, we made it as far north as Princess Louisa Inlet, and Chatterbox falls, with a visit to Malibu Young Life Camp. On the way back, we stopped at Ganges (Salt Spring Island) and then put down an anchor in Royal Cove, at Portland Island. There, at the suggestion of a fellow boater, we went for a short hike. “It’s a little 1.6 KM trail right through the middle,” he said. “You can’t go wrong.”

It started out innocently enough. At 4:30 PM we docked our dingy and found the trail which passes directly through the center (from north to south) of this 1322 acre, deeply forested island. The wide, needle covered trail was easy and well marked. We made good time, arriving at the other side of the island without any trouble. There, we found a sign pointing to “Shell Beach.”

We’d seen the same sign at our dingy dock, and realized that if we wanted, we could follow this second trail to describe a clockwise circle around the west side of the island eventually arriving back at our dingy. On this warm sunny day, with lots of daylight, we decided to give it a go.

At Shell Beach, we discovered a young family camping from their little ski boat. We visited with them and reminisced about the years we’d vacationed in just the same way. Those were great memories for our kids, and we encouraged them to treasure the moments.

With the sun dropping in the sky, we began to look for the trail back to our boat. Because we’d circumnavigated the island by boat, we knew where we wanted to go. However, no amount of hunting would reveal the trail (or the sign) leading us back.

Eventually, we returned to the beach, looking until we found a small pathway climbing north. With no other choices, we followed it. As we walked the trail became more and more narrow, frequently blocked by downed logs and thick underbrush. Before long the trail petered out, and Kim announced what we both knew. “This isn’t a trail, it’s a deer path.”

Believing that we knew where the boat was, and with the setting sun giving us a constant reminder of our cardinal directions, we fought onward, hoping to find the trail again. Deeper and deeper into the woods we progressed, the salal and vines and blackberries clinging to our bare legs. We had gone out for an easy hike. We had no water. No food. No shelter.

And before long we realized we were lost. All the trees began to look alike. We climbed one hill only to discover a sheer cliff on the other side. We meandered along the rocks, looking for a way to avoid the dangerous underbrush.

We weren’t lost in the traditional sense. We knew where we wanted to be. We had an idea of where the boat was — in relationship to us (remember the sun was setting in the west). But as the minutes passed, sunset loomed. In the dark, we would have no such clues. I began to imagine spending the night in that dark wood. Knowing that we would survive the ordeal, even if we came out covered in mosquito bites, I calmed myself. Still, anxiety clawed inside.

My husband wanted me to sit still and let him go on looking for the trail. I hated to be separated. Being lost together is one problem. Being both separated and lost is two.

I finally said, “I think it’s time for some prayer here. And I don’t mean some bless me Jesus prayer. We need to do some serious praying or we’re going to spend the night in the woods.” We did pray, and I reminded the Lord that he’s the shepherd of the lost sheep. At that moment in time, there were no more lost sheep than we two!

After one or two more probing but false starts, Kim stumbled onto a trail. We had discovered our way out — though we both know who helped us find it. At 9 PM, exhausted and thirsty, we climbed back onto our own boat. In the dark, we stripped down and washed our wounded extremities with antibiotic soap and warm water. We found some dinner and fell into bed, completely spent. It was a hike I won’t soon forget.

We both are full of self-blame about that trip. But what I remember is how promising that trail looked as it headed away from Shell Beach. It seemed right, but it was deceptive. It reminded me of the scripture, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.”

We should have turned back. But we thought we knew better. We soldiered on.

My question, friends: Are you on the right path? Is there some where in your life that you need to turn back? Have you lost your way? Do you need the savior to show you the way back to the narrow way?

Don’t spend the night in the woods alone. Ask. Turn Back. As for us? We won’t hike unprepared again. And yes, the scratches are healing!

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3 Responses to “Lost”

  1. Miriam Cheney Says:

    Another adventure for you to tuck into a story. Oh wait … you just did! What a great take-away, a question we all need to ask on a daily basis. Love this new-ish? blog look. Your pics above are soooo (for lack of a better word) cute! And your active lifestyle gives me hope. I miss seeing you around, Bette … I still remember our meetings with such fondness. 🙂

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Ahhhh Miriam, the fondness goes both ways! Miss seeing you too! As my writing has taken such a different turn lately, I don’t hang out at conferences so much. As for stories, it’s true; everything that happens to me seems to have a spiritual application. Wonder why that is? As for active? I try hard to keep it up, so that I don’t sink into a couch cushion and freeze there. With every year that passes, I realize that my body is following a definite downward spiral. Part of the fall, I guess. Bless you!

  2. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    There is nothing quit like living in the moment with needing Jesus. We often are deceived by the comforts of our living rooms we fail to get out into the woods where we will always end up needing Jesus.Thanks for sharing.

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