rushing river in a frosty forest

A Foolish Forest Foray

By God's grace and mercy, I lived to tell the tale of my dangerous trek in a frosty forest. As my heart rate returned to normal, I reflected on biblical truth.

Sweaty, exhausted, and completely disheveled, I trudged up the steep street to our house. Passersby wondered why a grown woman like me was walking with the seat of my pants soaked and stained with mud, the pant legs drenched from my knees to my ankles. I shoved my mittens into my coat pockets to unlock the front door. Kicking off my snow boots, I slid to the floor and sighed, “Thank you, Lord, for getting me home safely.”

I’d been foolish—dangerously foolish. 

Eager to explore the nature reserve park near our new home, I woke up before dawn that crisp winter morning, full of zest, and on a mission to experience the forest sanctuary before breakfast. Admiring the glorious sunrise as I walked the snowy trail, I almost bumped into a quiet deer couple, unbothered by my presence as they nibbled the bare shrubbery. It occurred to me that this early hour brought more wildlife to the park than people, and for a brief moment, I wondered if it was safe to be walking alone. Undaunted, I continued my expedition.

The farther I walked, the less familiar my surroundings became. Known for my pitiful sense of direction, again I thought about the benefits of a walking companion. I assured myself that as long as I stayed on the path, I’d be okay. But the recent snowfall covered the trail and hid any footprints of those who’d gone before. In the distance, beyond a small valley, the trail appeared on a beautiful ridge overlooking the icy river. I knew the view from up there must be breathtaking, so I kept that spot in my sight and pressed on alone—over fallen logs, through knee-deep snow, and across long patches of glassy ice on the climb up the hill. 

Sure enough, from the top of the ridge, the scene looked like a postcard. After spending a few moments in awe and wonder—a solitary moment of worship—I turned to embark on the journey home and realized my peril. The slippery climb up the hill had been a challenge, but going down seemed impossible. To the immediate right of the trail, a 30-foot drop met the rushing river that wound through the valley. To the left, a bare cliff. The slick path I came on ended at the lovely viewpoint. I saw only one way back home: slide down the ice without plummeting into the freezing water. 

If only I had help. I began to panic. Confessing my foolishness to God, I begged him to help me down the hill safely. Once I started my descent, stopping and steering would be impossible. I was at his mercy. In fear and trembling, I began my glacial glide. 

God is merciful, and I survived. Soggy, sapped, and sick with relief, I returned home with a renewed appreciation for Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (CSB)—”Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”

The world applauds an independent spirit, but God’s Word emphasizes our need for fellowship. If I had asked a friend to join me on my excursion, she probably would have warned me of the risks involved and I might have stayed home. Or she might have come along and steered me in a safer direction. If she foolishly took the treacherous trail with me, her presence would have been a welcome comfort.  

If you’re embarking on a new endeavor, walking a hard road, or feeling weak and beyond your limits, link arms with a Christian comrade. May I—a clumsy, self-reliant sinner—gently exhort you to forsake your pride and share what you’re going through with someone else? Even if you’re scared, do it anyway—because that scariness isn’t as scary as doing it alone. And if you don’t know who to ask, start with Jesus. He’s with you (Matthew 28:20).

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