I stood at the edge of the creek, about to jump over the narrow stream of water, thinking there were a lot of little creeks like that in the woods, when it occurred to me that maybe there weren’t a lot of creeks, but it was the same one I was crossing over and over again. I don’t know how many times I had crossed that creek before my six-year-old mind realized I was going in circles. But when I did, I knew I must change my route if I ever wanted to get back to my grandma’s house.
I was lost because I had disobeyed my mother’s admonition not to go into the woods. She had instructed me to stay in the field next to grandma’s, where they could see me. But I had gotten bored, and the sunny southern fall day had lost its coolness. It was getting hot, and the woods beckoned. Thinking I would just step into the edge of the woods where I could still hear my mother’s voice if she called me, I had crossed that barrier from the bright warm sunshine to the cool shadows of the woods. Once that barrier was crossed, I noticed some trails, cowpaths, which the neighbor’s cows had created during their wanderings. Choosing to follow one, I got deeper and deeper into the woods until I could no longer see my grandmother’s house, nor could they see me. As the afternoon progressed, the woods grew darker and colder and I knew I must head back. Following what I thought was the trail back in the direction where I entered the woods, I walked and walked, stepping over this stream many times before I realized I was lost and going in circles. Scared and praying for help, I eventually saw a light that I moved towards, and found a trail that led out of the woods into the yard of a neighbor’s, several miles down the road from my grandmother’s.
This scenario is not unlike what happens to us as adults, when despite warnings and good advice, we still venture into the dark unknown and lose our way. We wander aimlessly looking for a way out. Thankfully for me, I saw the light of a neighbor’s house that led me to safety. I wonder how many times we virtually cross the same creek over again repeating mistakes before we realize we’ve done that before, and it didn’t get us anywhere. It is only when we stop doing those things that are keeping us lost, that we can look for the light that leads us to safety. Jesus said, ” I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Which path would you choose?