Off the Trail

On my recent hike to the top of Mount Bolivar, I made a little excursion along a ridge that ran west from the summit. Before going off trail, I called Teckla to let her know where to look for my body if I didn’t come home. From the top this ridge looked like easy going: only a few trees, some open patches, and knee high brush. But it turned out more difficult as I picked my way through stiff branched brush over loose rock and gravel. My ankles were taking a beating on the uneven surface, and I had several bleeding scratches on my arms.

After nearly taking a tumble a couple times, I remembered Psalm 18 where David proclaims, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon high places.” I knew if I turned an ankle or broke a leg out here I would never get back to the trail before dark. So I prayed for God to give me “hinds’ feet.” Now, it may have been God giving me this thought or just commonsense kicking in, but I thought, “Typical, you go wandering off the trail and then pray for God to make you sure-footed.”

Shortly after my little prayer, I looked south and saw that the distant forest fires (the Glendale complex) seemed closer and bigger. A big reddish mushroom cloud towered over the distant ridge on fire. I wasn’t quite to the end of the ridge line, but decided to start back. What seemed like a gentle slope coming down, seemed vertical going back. Again and again I stopped to catch my breath and gulp water. This jaunt had been a bad idea.

Exhausted but happy to be back on the trail, I thanked God that he is faithful when we are stupid. I also wondered how often I have prayed for God to make me sure-footed in places I should have never gone.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.

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