It seemed that every year or so, someone became lost in the forests of the Northwest, sometimes never to be found. When my own son was lost the Lord's leading was not one bit off course, and led me straight to him. But it was not until I had totally given up that the Lord stepped in and from an impossible place brought him to me.
Ernesto was a friend my son Joseph met at school in 1995 while we were living in Gig Harbor Washington. He was a good kid, and I was especially relieved when he told me that he and his family were Christians. Joseph was a little too old for a babysitter, so I often allowed Ernesto to come to our apartment after school to play video games with Joseph while I was at work. He was about to turn 14 at the time, but I still didn't like for him to be alone.
The boys continued to maintain their friendship even after we moved a few miles away to the much larger city of Tacoma. And when Ernesto asked me one weekend if Joseph could spend the night I didn't hesitate to say yes. That night I went to bed without a thought that anything could possibly go wrong.
A little after 1:30 in the morning I awoke to the shrill sound of my telephone ringing on the nightstand beside my bed. It was my son, "Mom come get me. Ernesto's dad came home drunk and he is kicking me out of his house."
He sounded so desperate. But before I could ask him where he was and how to get there, he hung up the phone; and I had no Caller ID for a number to call him back.
I threw on a robe over my nightclothes and jumped in my car praying, "Dear Lord, please help me. I don't know where he is, or how to find him, but I know you do."
I don't know what I expected to happen. I just knew that my son was in danger. Not long after crossing over the Narrows Bridge, I heard, "Take this exit."
Hmm, this was a remote area. I thought Ernesto lived further into Gig Harbor. When I heard it again, I took the exit.
There were two ways to go from the stop sign at the bottom of the exit: straight, or to my right. I had never been down this road before so didn't know where either way led. It appeared that both directions seemed to lead into the forest. I heard, "Turn right" And so I did. I had been constantly praying since I hung up the phone. I had to trust that I was hearing the Lord.
I continued on until I came to a brightly lit area populated with houses and apartment complexes, which gave me a bit more hope that I was about to find my son. I drove slowly along, fully expecting that at any second the Lord would tell me, "Stop here."
But He didn't, and I continued to drive until I was well past any apartments, houses, or street lights, and was again heading deep into the forest. I thought, Lord, maybe that was not you I heard. About the time I decided to turn around I clearly heard, "Don't turn around. Drive slow, but keep going."
It had now been nearly twenty minutes since I turned off Highway 16 onto the dark road I traveled. I felt such an urgency to find my son, but as time passed it seemed I was only getting deeper into the wilderness. Surely he is not out here where the black bears, and occasionally the gray wolves roamed. But if he was somewhere out here stumbling around on this dark moonless night that probability seemed great. The sound of cicadas, crickets, and other forest creatures filtering in through my rolled down windows only added to my fearful imaginations. Should I stop and roll up my windows? I decided against it.
The longer I drove, the more I couldn't help but to think that I had not heard the Lord. Maybe what I needed to do was to drive on into Gig Harbor to look for him. I comforted myself with the thought that even Peter had not always heard Him. Besides, my gas gauge revealed I'd be running out of fuel soon. I began to look for a wide enough area along the roadway to turn around.
I had just made my turn when out from the brush jumped a figure that caused my already fast beating heart to leap in my chest; and it was running along the narrow road toward my car.
The next thing I heard was, "Mom! Stop! Mom!" And I slammed on my brakes.
Once he was tucked safely in the passenger seat beside me, Joseph said, "I tried to cut across through the forest to get to the main highway, but I got lost. If it hadn't been for seeing your car lights moving slowly along in the distance I would never have been able to find the road."
God's divine interventions never cease to amaze me. Truly He will lead us, if we will but trust and obey.
Psalm 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.