I was 13 or 14 when I had this horrible dream that my whole family was leaving on a train, and I was there at the station pleading with them not to go, not to leave me behind. That was when I found out that I talk in my sleep. Apparently the other 40 or so boys who were sleeping in the gym that night heard me crying out the same thing I was saying in my dream “Don’t leave me!”.
Almost a full ten years later on a hike with other men, did I ever experience such fear of being alone. The hike started of pretty good, through the first quarter mile or so I was really excited. After that I realized that the whole trip would be like walking up stairs with a heavy pack on my back. After awhile our group split up into two smaller groups. I tried to keep up with the leaders, but eventually I felt the need to stop and not wanting to slow down the others I let them go ahead figuring I would just take my time and wait for the group behind me to catch up. Hopefully saving some energy for the next day that I knew would be grueling. Eventually the trail let me to a fork, and not sure which way to go I had to wait for group behind me.
After waiting fifteen or so minutes I began to notice that my sweat was condensing, and that I was really starting to get cold. It’s at this point that the devil starts whispering in my ear, reminding me that people had died on this mountain, and that I was in danger of the same. I began to pray.
Thirty minutes of standing alone on the trail, I pulled out my cell phone, but found that I couldn’t get any reception, and I start to shiver. How much longer till dark? How long till I’m really in trouble? The other group should be here by now, did they go a different way or worse are they lost? I could just pick a direction, but I risked going the wrong way and then I’d really be in trouble because if it was the wrong way it would take exponentially longer for anyone who might be looking for me to find me. The best plan for me was to stay put, and continue to pray.
At forty-five minutes my faith wavered, and I picked a direction. I hiked for a few minutes on the trail, but didn’t feel good about it. So I started to hike back to my waiting spot. On the way back I decided to try my phone again. That’s when God provided a miracle, I suddenly had cell reception and used the opportunity to call everyone on the cell phone list. Through my chattering teeth I was able to leave a few voice mails asking for help. No sooner had I set down my phone than it rang, one of the guys on the hike was calling me back, to tell me that help was on the way. A few minutes later back at the place I had been waiting before, help arrived from the opposite way I had been trying to go just a few minutes ago. As I hiked to camp, God started talking to me about his role as my heavenly Father, about his faithfulness, and about him never leaving me alone. It was through trial that my view of God as my heavenly Father grew from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I was safe (not that I was ever in any real danger, the devil is a liar) for the moment, but God wasn’t done teaching me and setting me free from my fear of abandonment.
Our trip was all but over, all that was left to do was shower and hop on a plane. The shower felt great, it had been three long days since my last one, and I was savoring every hot drop of water the devil began to whisper in my ear. Insecurities began to surface out of no where, doubts about the newly formed friendships popped into my head like popcorn. I began to wonder what they were talking about while I was out of the room, were they all agreeing that I was really strange and couldn’t wait till I was gone? It’s silly to think about now, but the devil wanted to rob me of any kind of good this trip had been to build me up as the man my heavenly Father wants me to be. But I had learned and grown during the trip, and I began to question the reason behind those feelings (thanks Scott and Seth :)). As I dug I found that my real wasn’t that I didn’t fit in but rather my fear that a group of men I had become really close to would suddenly abandon me. As I thought about that I was reminded of my time alone on the mountain and of my Father in heaven who would never abandon me. It was then that something in me changed and I began to grow, the doubts and fears melted away in the light of the truth.
I still have a long way to go to be the man God has destined for me to become, but I know now that I don’t have to do this journey alone, regardless of how the devil describes my situation.