Through a series of conversations this week, I have come to a reality check moment: I speak/write in abstractions or concepts instead of speaking concretely. Not my intent, nor my heart. Furthermore, I just love ideas and I love creating space for people to “fill in their own blank piece of paper”. I hate handouts with a passion – they feel restrictive – I would rather you give me a blank piece of paper and let me create. Often I err on the side of giving people – the same – a blank piece of paper and allowing them to draw what they like and choose.
I deeply want to honor all of your spaces to work out ‘what your verse will be’ in regards to what God is doing in your life and at the same time, I don’t want to not say what needs to be said. So here it goes, my attempt to address concretely – with storytelling and imagination- our fear of being lost.
Late summer a few years back Liam – who was 11 years old at the time -and I made a venture to the Gorge for some mid-Sunday afternoon trout fishing. I had studied the map and knew where the creek lay that we were fishing in. We fished and walked the creek away from the truck for at least 2 miles. But as we did, a strange thing happened, and almost without us not knowing, the walls of the creek bank grew and swallowed us up. Eventually, we found ourselves in a ravine filled with water – known by the name Swift Creek. I had fished the other end of this Swift Creek and every quarter of a mile there was an access point from the creek to the trail that was running parallel with the creek.
But it seems on this end of the creek, none of those existed. We waded and walked. Now, I knew where the trail was, I could not see it for the trees, but it was there. Liam, on the other hand, felt the deep sense of being lost. It was on his face and his fear was starting to get me a bit panicked.
When we got ‘swallowed’ up both sides looked like the right side of this picture. Amazingly beauitful right in our backyard.
You see, even when your Dad says, “We are not lost” – when you don’t see the trail, you feel lost and all the feelings that go with it.
Eventually, we did a bit of bushwhacking and climbing for about 80 feet, and we found the trail. We were both overjoyed.
My words to Liam: I knew the trail was here.
Liam’s look communicated to me: I knew you knew, but at the moment that didn’t help a lot. But now I know-know and I am okay.
When the fear sets in, our life feels overwhelming. We cry out, “I don’t know what the heck I am doing here or where I am going.” This feeling makes us fearful to the core of our being.
In these moments we turn to something: I know humans, you do as well. We are sideways and sometimes we chase shadows in the dark (C.S. Lewis’ phrase, not mine). These shadows we chase come in many forms which are always a misuse or abuse of something that God has given us:
Money (resources we are given) —> greed
Sexual desire —> lust
Food —> gluttony
Time —> sloth – not using your time well
Passion/emotions/feelings —> anger, wrath, revenge
We could keep going with this list, right? There are many ways that we chase down and misuse/abuse the things that God has given us to avoid feeling the fear of being lost.
We don’t just stumble into addictions and misuse of God’s gifts to us, we get there by running from fear.
And the fear of being lost haunts us all.
That day in the creek bottom, I had to keep my head about me. I knew the trial was there, yet I was not for sure how we were going to get to it. In fear, I could have sat down and not moved at all. I could have turned around and gone back the mile or two we had walked down the creek -it would have been very dangerous to traverse the creek in the dark. Fear could have locked me up and forced me to chase something down that would have been harmful to me and my son.
This week, as we face the fear of being lost, we will look at John 10:1-10. We will unpack this more in-depth on Sunday (you can watch here) but for this post, let me point this one thing out from John 10:
The sheep know the shepherd’s voice.
I mean they know-know His voice
And they trust the Good Shepherd’s voice.
Therefore they go where the Shepherd calls and they follow.
I think many of us don’t have a belief problem, but we have a trust problem. We trust ourselves more than we trust God, therefore we can not let go of control and trust that God knows the best of ways.
I had to let Liam know, in that creek bottom, as the sun was going down, that we were going to be okay. I had to look him in the eyes and let him know he was going to be okay and we were going to find the trail. “Liam,” I would say, “We are not lost.”
Friends, we are not lost. Our guide knows where the trail is. We have to follow His lead and follow His voice.
For previous posts from this series click below:
Strength and courage,