“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Every summer my family goes on vacation.
Usually we go to Bear Lake.
To be with the fam.
Because we like them.
And because it’s tradition.
But this particular year, funds were a little tighter than normal. So we decided to stick close to home.
Roman Nose National Park fit the bill.
So we cleaned the house (who wants to come back to a dirty one?), packed our bags and loaded the camper. And a couple of hours later we pulled into the park. We drove around for a bit and scoped out the park, looking for the perfect spot, and then circled back around to the little store we’d seen on our way in. My mom headed in to grab some bread and other essentials.
Us girls wandered in after her–my father rolling his eyes–we never miss a chance to shop.
7 minutes later, we’re all out again.
My mom, disgusted.
She couldn’t believe they’d charge “Five thousand dollars” for that tiny little jar of peanut butter.
So back to the site to set up camp.
And our customary, first-night-of-camping dinner, Frito chili pie.
We clear the table and play a few games.
And then my mom wants to go for a hike. She noticed a trail leading to a lookout point and she thinks it would be really fun to go watch the sun set from there. And the trail’s not long and I’m always up for an after dinner walk, so I agree to go. We grab a flashlight–because it might get dark on our way back–and head out.
We walk for about half a mile and come to what I think must be the look out.
It’s not very impressive.
So I suggest that we head back.
But my mother, convinced that this is not the real look out, wants to keep going.
So we do.
And we keep going. And going. And going. And going.
And still. No lookout.
In fact, we’re headed for this forest of trees.
Which seems counter intuitive.
But we keep going, my mother, undeterred.
We cross through one section, without too much difficulty. But by the time we hit the second section, the sun has already set.
Add the trees are getting bigger.
We’re talking Forbidden Forest caliber.
Any second I expect to see one of those gigantor spiders crawl across the trail.
My mom, who had taken the lead, pulls out her flashlight.
From behind her I can hardly see anything. So she has to tell me when to step up, to avoid a root, or when the trail drops down.
After about ten minutes, sensing my impatience, she lets me take the lead. I do a much worse job of letting her know about rocks and roots. Knowing I’ve frustrated her, and fearing that she’ll twist an ankle, I give the flashlight back to her.
A few minutes later we’re out of the forest and back in the open.
I let out an audible sigh of relief.
But too soon.
In the distance I hear one long low howl.
And then another.
We’re going to die here.
On this stupid trail.
In the middle of nowhere.
They’ll probably find our bodies tomorrow when they send out a helicopter.
Or maybe those ravenous wolves will eat us.
The trail curves upward in a spiral.
But we need to be heading downward.
And to make things worse, the flashlight has started to sputter.
Feeling hopeless, I look out over the expanse of trees and notice, for the first time, lights in the distance. My mother mentions that they belong to the lodge. It takes everything in me to not run wildly in its direction.
But I know we can’t leave the path.
If we do, we’ll be goners.
So we keep moving forward. There’s gotta be a trail marker soon.
And there is.
Attached to a fork in the road.
It was the worst thing that could have happened.
So we deliberate for a minute.
We’ve been on this trail for a hundred years. It’s gotta be coming to a close.
But then again, neither of us are too keen on taking another jaunt through the forbidden forest.
Especially now. In the dead of night.
So we opt to put it in the Lord’s hands and say a prayer.
We’re not really sure what we ought to do.
There’s no clear answer.
So we guess.
We decide to leave our current trail in hopes that the other will be shorter.
And thank heaven, it is.
Within ten minutes we’re back on the main road and headed back to our campsite.
On our way there, we meet my dad.
He’s been driving around for a half hour looking for us.
Okay, so besides being one of the scarier things that has ever happened to me. There are actually a ton of lessons that I’ve learned from that experience.
Here are a few:
1. Be prepared.
Because there’s going to come a day when a hastily grabbed flashlight isn’t enough.
It was only by the grace of God that we didn’t end up stuck on a mountain at night without a light. It makes me think of the ten virgins. Five of which (and in this situation, I would have been one of them) had empty, or seriously depleted oil lamps.
Seriously depleted is not enough!
Half full is not enough!
You’d never leave home without a full charge on your cell phone.
And in the same way we must work every day to keep ourselves spiritually charged by continually plugging into the scriptures and praying daily.
Getting recharged takes time.
Building a relationship with the Lord takes time.
In the Book of Mormon, Amulek, says: “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32).
This life. Right here. Right now.
This is when we make the efforts and spend the time to know God. So that when we see His face, He will be familiar to us.
That is life eternal, knowing God.
2. Those who have additional light have a responsibility to share.
In the Book of Matthew, Christ said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Each of us have a solemn duty to share what we know.
My mother held the light. She knew I could not see. And so she took the steps to help me know where to go until I held a light of my own.
But sometimes it’s not easy to share.
Sometimes we’re not very good at it.
I’m a missionary.
I’ve been there.
Most days I AM there.
I’m not all that good at telling people about the gospel.
But I know a thing or two about sharing.
And if you start with a good, easy to swallow, comfortable invitation. You’re halfway there.
3. Prayers are rarely answered on your knees.
One of my good friends pointed out this scripture.
“And the Lord said: Go to work . . .” (Ether 2:16).
Go to work.
I like that.
It says get up off your duff and make it happen.
The Lord didn’t answer my prayer as I stood, arms folded, at the crossroads.
He didn’t answer until we had fully committed ourselves to a course of action and had started walking.
Most of the time our prayers aren’t answered while we’re on our knees.
More often than not, it’s when we make an educated guess and then go to work.
He wants us to learn.
And the best way for us to learn is by doing.