Mark had needed some fresh air; a place to breathe. He smiled at the irony, atop the fourteener the air was so thin it wasn't ideal for breathing. His smile quickly faded. There was nothing to smile about in his current situation.
The air may have been thin, but it was cool and refreshing. The smells of rain, distant evergreens and wildlife wafted by. He inhaled deeply, letting the cool rich air fill his lungs, and exhale slowly. The emptiness in his chest remained.
The wrongs I have done, the people I have hurt. Images burned into his brain that he would give anything to be forgotten. The horrified look of his wife, and the nasty gashes and bruises that were given by his hands.
Tomorrow he would stand in front of a judge to receive a sentence that had already been determined. The tension in his chest weighed him down like an anchor, reaching for solid ground. He stared out across the mountain range and to the valleys beyond.
What do I matter in all of this? God, if you’re real, I think I'm gonna need your help with this one.
He stood alone, atop a mountain where no one could find him.
Not even God.
With resignation he made his way down the trail. At the base he could make out a few men peering through the windows of his truck. He became uneasy and quickened his step. As he got closer, he realized one of them was trying the handle to see if it would open. Great, just what I need now.
"It had better be locked!" he shouted. The men sheepishly backed up, and surprisingly, waited until he reached the parking lot.
The three men greeted him with smiles and quiet hello’s. He noticed they all looked tired and could use a shower. The tallest of the three stepped forward, offering his hand.
"Sorry you had to catch us like that. We weren't actually trying to break into your truck, well I guess we were, but we weren't planning on stealing anything." He offered Mark a grin cheesy enough to be sincere.
Mark eyed them skeptically.
"Our Blazer broke down, and we were hoping to jump-start it using your truck," the tall man explained. "We were actually surprised that there was even one other truck up here, seeing that its fifty miles from the highway. It really was our only chance at getting out of here."
Mark nodded, still unsure if he should believe them, it did seem pretty logical. "What are you guys doing way up here?"
This time the answer came from one of the other gentlemen. "We have been up all week, backpacking a trail. We weren't suppose to pack out until two days from now, but we decided to head home due to the rain. We thought for sure we would be stranded here, until you showed up. Thank God you showed up."
The tall one, as if suspecting Marks uneasiness added, "We are from a Christian camp about 100 miles south of here. I am the pastor of a small church there.”
At this confession Mark was overwhelmed, there was no way this could be a coincidence.
"I think you are here to tell me about God," he couldn't believe the words were coming from his lips, but he knew it to be truth. He explained to them his situation, and of his desperate need of fresh air, and how it had driven over miles of dirt roads to make sure he was alone.
At first the men looked as surprised as he felt. Then their surprise quickly turned to smiles, he could almost taste their enthusiasm.
As the men shared, Mark could no longer contain his emotions. Tears spilled freely down his face, but he felt no shame in front of these men. As he cried, as they prayed, the tension was released from his chest. The weight had been lifted. He breathed anew, feeling the breath of life fill not only his lungs but deep within his soul.
God had gone out of his way to show Mark that he was not alone, and that his life was precious. Though he had sinned, he was redeemed. His consequences would not go away, but he would face them with a new strength.
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