This evening my husband and I decided to go exploring. Well, it was my idea, and he basically came along for the ride. And a ride it was! We tried out a road we've never been on in the nearby mountains. Some of our friends told us that if we could make it to the top of the pass, it would be a breathtaking view. Why not? We were game. Besides, we've had a lot of stress lately. This was the ideal way to let the stress roll off as the miles of tranquil mountains rolled by, right?
Once we got a ways down the road, we realized why they said, "IF we could make it to the top of the pass…" It seems they left out the little detail that the road is only suitable for four-wheelers, hikers, or better yet, helicopters. Of course, we only found this out after it was too late to do any good. The road was so narrow and rocky that, once we got a ways in, there was basically nowhere to turn around for a couple miles. Two miles on a narrow, boulder-filled road is no de-stresser. What were our "friends" trying to do to us?
Now that I think about it, they might still be a little sore about the time they got food poisoning at our house on New Year's Eve from shrimp.
While cruising down the road at 2 mph, I had to keep getting out of the car to help him navigate the larger boulders. To make matters worse, while I was out navigating boulders, I discovered fresh bear scat (that's poop for you city folk) on the road in a thick, dark forested area. It was then I realized the earlier notion that "we were game" might be a self-fulfilling prophecy!
By this time, bears might have been nicer to deal with. Growling out orders and criticisms at each other, our stressless little expedition turned into a white knuckle event. At one point we contemplated gunning it over a cliff. In truth, we were getting the chance to test out some of the lessons God had been teaching us about battling fear. Would we bottom out and get stuck, ruining the car? Would we get stranded alone in the mountains all night with no phone, no provisions, and only the hungry bears to keep us company? Would we run out of gas (we didn't start with a full tank and we didn't have any bean burritos handy)?
It was then that I suggested the brilliant plan of finding our own spiritual lessons in our rocky road experience, none of which included chocolate, marshmallows, or nuts. Luckily, instead of feeding me to the bears as he was inclined to do at that moment, my husband joined in, and we brought some good insight into an otherwise disastrous evening. We discussed that scary things are:
Unknown. But once you've taken that road before, you know what to expect next time.
Big obstacles. But once you've faced the big boulders on life's road, little rocks and gravel are a cake walk.
Character revealing. Stress shows what you're made of (yikes!).
Character developing. It takes hard work to push through the difficult mental battles.
Always more fun looking back on than living through.
We reminded ourselves that lion chasers (in this case bear chasers):
Have to make a choice between fear and boredom. We could have stayed home bored tonight, but instead we got out into the adventure, fear and all.
Feel more alive in the midst of fear. The scariest experiences make the best stories.
We made it out just before dark, no holes in our oil pan, and no bear attacks. And while my husband complained the whole evening, he's already recounting our death-defying experience with excited animation to anyone who will listen. After we got home, he said, "You know, we should have just enjoyed the adventure and not been so uptight."
"Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us." Romans 5:2-5 NLT