LOST IN THE CANADIAN WILDERNESS
By: Norm Rasmussen
Being lost was bad enough, but we had fought a cold, hard rain all day and now our clothing and sleeping bags were sopping wet.
The 3 of us had one destination in mind. The old Mellema cabin on Guide Lake. There we at least would have a roof over our heads for the night, even if no one had left any dry firewood, which was usually the case. But the cabin might just as well have been thousands of miles away, because I had no idea now how to lead the 2 boys there.
Our backpack trip into this remote Canadian Lake was for 7 days. To accommodate our stay, we had 5 large backpacks chock full of supplies, a 15-foot aluminum canoe, a 22-lb. boat motor, and other items tied about us.
The problem confronting us right from the very beginning was that the wilderness trail to the lake was covered over from downed trees. Windstorms had gone through, covering it. I must confess at this point that I was probably unwise for even having us out there. For two weeks prior I had not had a good night's sleep. Mentally and physically fatigued to the bone from days previous, I had now driven from southern Michigan into Canada for hours on end without rest.
Once starting out on foot, we had to push hard to make it to Guide Lake by dark - over downed trees - around trees that were too big to climb over. Carrying a cumbersome 80-pound canoe through that Canadian jungle didn't help, and now suddenly 3/4 of the way to the lake, we were lost.
It was time to pray. Pray and trust. We joined hands. "Lord - I'm not sure I've done the right thing. I promised these boys a fishing trip for months now, and I didn't want to back out at the last minute. All 3 of us believed your blessings were upon this trip, so we came. But Lord, my head is spinning. I'm having trouble with disorientation, and I've been an outdoorsman long enough to know that I'm putting all 3 of us in serious jeopardy. If we don't find the trail leading us to the lake soon, we're going to be spending the night and maybe longer out here in the freezing rain, and all of us may end up with pneumonia. So Lord - we're asking you for help. We're trusting you to show us the trail."
Half an hour later we found the trail!
Half an hour later we found the trail! We were so thankful. Then, half an hour after that we were at trails end again. And that's when discouragement really started setting in. We were shaking from our cold, wet clothing. My boy had fallen from fatigue and jammed a broken limb into his thigh. There was severe swelling - possibly a broken blood vessel. I had twisted an ankle, and it throbbed. Discouragement was eating so badly at the boys that I knew I had to do something to get their minds, off it. I sent them back to get some of the supplies left behind.
Standing all alone, I realized my relationship with Christ was now about to be tested beyond anything I had ever dreamed. "Lord, these boys have put their trust in you back there when we prayed. You came through. But now their faith is almost gone. What do you want me to do?"
There was silence. When I tired of the silence, I raised my hands to the sky and began to praise Him. A powerful thought soon thundered in my throbbing head. He isn't going to help you. Forget it. You're praising the wind, you fool.
I dropped to my knees in despair. I began crying. "Lord - what do you want me to do from here? Trust or beg?"
More silence, except for the wind and pounding rain. I felt like He was nowhere to be found. Yet, I knew he was the only one who could help us find the trail. I decided to trust. I had learned long ago begging triggers little hope.
"Lord - I'm going to stand here trusting until I hear from you. I'm not budging. You're the only hope I've got."
Moments later I felt to turn around. I began walking the few yards back to the canoe and supplies. I was crying and despondent, holding on to Him by a thread.
Then it happened. A calm came over me, and His still small voice ... that voice I had heard now and then in times past - He was now letting me hear it again in my thoughts:
Remember that time I taught you how to track that wounded deer? You were looking several feet ahead of you for the blood trail. Remember I told you to get down on your hands and knees and look only inches ahead of you? The same applies here. Stop looking so far through the forest over the tops of windfalls, and start looking under them.
I tried it. It worked! Seventy-five yards later the trail cleared out! The going became smooth. I half ran down the trail, all the way to the lake. Yes, the beautiful lake!
Back to the canoe. The boys weren't there. I back tracked. Nowhere. I called out finally, distant shouts. They had lost the trail again. Eventually we came together. "I've seen the lake!" I exclaimed.
"Sure you have. You're hallucinating, Dad," my 15-year old boy commented, his face hanging off his ankles.
"Boys, I'm telling you, Jesus is faithful. He promises us in Hebrews 13:5 that He'll never leave us or forsake us. And He hasn't! He told me how to find the trail again. I've followed it all the way to the lake!
"Prove it!" came their challenge.
I did. You've never seen two happier faces in all your life, as we stood on the shore of Guide Lake . . One-half hour before dark. Tired - exhausted - shaking - aching - throbbing - wounded . . . but with thankful hearts, we loaded the canoe and headed across the lake. Rounding the bend, we saw the cabin still standing. Lopsided a bit, but praise God, still standing!
We opened the rickety old cabin door and there it was! The most beautiful sight we could ever hope to see. A dry stack of firewood to stoke the pot-bellied stove!
A simple little story, but for me, it was one of the biggest tests I had ever undergone up to that point. Only God will ever know how tempted I was to turn my back on Him out there on that lonely trail, for the issue was not whether He would be faithful or not, but rather, would I be?
Longer version of this testimony for anyone interested: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Hope_Encouragement/k-o/LostWild.htm
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