It’s deceptively easy to get lost in the woods. Every year, several thousand American day hikers lose their bearings on what they assumed would be just a short tramp through a stretch of wilderness. The word “bewilder” comes from an Old English expression for being lost in the wilderness. If panic sets in it becomes harder to think rationally. Robert Koester, a search and rescue expert and author of Lost Person Behavior, says the first thing a lost person needs to do is sit down, “Take a deep breath and calm yourself.”
Laurence Gonzales, who wrote Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why – points out panicked hikers are reluctant to sit down. They keep going, they press on, hoping to bump into something that looks familiar. Before they know it, they are in real trouble. Gonzales points out, “Part of the terror of being lost stems from the idea of never being seen again.”
We can get spiritually lost, too. Does your “map” of what a happy marriage is supposed to look like bear little resemblance to your current experience? Are you having trouble finding familiar landmarks, like peace and joy, in your relationship with God? Maybe you keep running into confusion and disappointment instead. Don’t panic. Sit down and take a deep breath. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It takes courage to give up our old maps and accept new ones, ways of seeing things that align with our actual experience. But we can do it.
Gonzales notes the very group we tend to worry about the most when they become lost in the woods – children under the age of six – often do the very best. That’s because they make themselves comfortable and don’t panic. When young kids are asked if they are lost, they often say, “I’m not lost. My Mommy is lost.” They know who cares about them and is looking for them. They know where they are, “I’m right here.”
Jesus said that unless we become like little children, we will never see the kingdom of God. Even if you feel utterly lost – relationally, spiritually, or emotionally – you can know where you are. The One who is always nearby, even if seemingly out of sight, will make sure you are found.
Rev Dr William Lewis