33-The Valley of Decision
In Project Forty news, June was HUGE! We ran a big-ol’ trip down to Kentucky in the sweltering heat for a three day adventure that was fully stocked—we had it all; storms, climbs, rappels, bugs, views, relationship building and breakdowns…of buses, not people. The next few weeks will be in text again and I’d like to share some of my experiences from my last trip with you. (My i-movie is frozen solid—does anybody have advice on how to correct the problem? This would get me back to making videos for you!)
So, back to the trip. We had 16 students, 3 adult leaders and myself. I have to admit, I was scared. I am always a little fearful when it comes to managing larger groups and making really important, life-dependent decisions. In general, I’m not the greatest or fastest decision maker. I remember my dad getting on me for not being able to decide what vehicle to buy when I was in college. My beloved truck was wrecked and I had a fat insurance check in my sweaty palm. “Do I use all the money for another car, or should I save some of the money for who knows what? If I buy a car with more miles, it might break down on me sooner and cost me more money anyway. But, if I spent it all on better car, I’m still going to be approaching that dreadful 100K mile marker and I don’t want to spend a couple extra thousand to get a really nice car!” Decisions. I ended up with teal colored, Pontiac Grand AM. My boss kept telling me, “Hey kid, every time I think I see you on the road it’s a chick driving. You have a chick car!” It’s true. I drove my chick car for several years before selling it for cash to a group of guys looking for a commuter car for work. Maybe it was for their wives?
Either way, decisions on a trip involving climbing a hundred feet off deck, or rappelling at a site where the wrong move up top could be tragic, or being isolated in a Copperhead snake infested forest half a day or more from medical care; these have more bearing than someone pointing out your chick mobile! This could be life or death in extreme circumstances, not likely death, but not entirely out of the question either. So, as I embarked on this massive undertaking, I prayed. One answered prayer came in the form of the trip leader, Bill. Bill is my former boss and friend who is always looking for adventure and should have some blogs himself. God has gifted him with the incredible ability to make quick decisions, full of wisdom and with confidence. His leadership on the trip was invaluable; and combined with my knowledge of the outdoors, we made a great team.
At one point on Thursday night we reached the “valley of decision.” Everyone was exhausted, running on just a few hours of broken sleep, a spread-out breakfast and lunch, and marching through a thick jungle on a single-track trail that was quickly turning to mud. That’s right, the dreaded rainstorm. Water ran down the inside of my rain shell sleeve and into my underwear every time I needed to raise my arm to move a branch or tie a knot overhead. Fun.
Darkness slowly filled the tight spaces between the leaves on the trees to create a heavy gloom that ushered in its master—POP, CRACK—the definition between the towering trees shown just for a split second as the sky unleashed it’s power. All the guys pulled tarps out and used them as covering to shield themselves from the pounding drops of water, pushing through our canopy of inter-woven branches. Bill and I ran up the hill to search for a rock out-cropping that could provide better cover until the storm passed by. Nothing big enough to fit the group and it would’ve been more dangerous climbing the steep terrain in the blackness anyway. “Let’s pray.” I don’t remember if that was a Bill suggestion or mine, but we took it! I felt helpless in the moment’s prior, thinking, “How do we protect ourselves from a tree that falls our way, or lightning strike? What if we spread out on our mats, will that be more effective than being huddled in a large mass?”
In the end, it didn’t matter. God is faithful and the storm quickly ended shortly after our prayer and return to the group. The sky brightened to a dusk setting and we found the trail we needed. Camp was established and everyone did their part to keep their tents dry and clean. We slept close to 12 hours that night, and on our hike out we witnessed the power of the storm—trees down everywhere, so much so that some of the roads were closed. Praise God for our safety and for the incredible power of His hand as we endured a little beating. God is good.
We won’t always make the right decision and sometimes it’s impossible to know exactly what to do. However, the decision to pray and to trust God and in His infinite wisdom—that is a decision that we must all learn to make a consistent practice.