Sam heard a shout far ahead of him, then the stillness of the woods.
"Chris? Where are you?"
Sam jogged down a dusty, needle-covered rise to emerge from the ponderosa pines. The
smell of scorched sap from the trees hovered and pressed his nostrils--a hundred degrees
and only 11 am. Thirty yards to his right, heat rippled from a rocky cliff, the edge of a
ravine. Sam's gaze lingered there when a flock of crows squawked from branches
behind, startling him.
You're jumpy. He could see Chris's smirk--had it memorized, in fact. Yep. Mr.
Confident and Mr. Jumpy, the best of friends. And now Mr. Jumpy was standing alone
six hours into the middle of a thousand acres with no idea how to get back. Dread
whispered. Why did I go along with this stupid idea?
A week earlier, it hadn't seemed so stupid. Sam remembered sipping a white chocolate
mocha at the café and leaning back in his chair while Chris spun tales of exploration and
"Dude, this will be so awesome! Remember what we heard growing up? 'Always be
careful, Sam! Don't do anything risky!' You know God didn't make us for a safe life.
Not for sitting at computers or watching TV all the time--we gotta get out there and
experience Creation. We're made to live life abundantly! Strip the plastic off, and
remember what the design looks like!"
Sam's reluctance began crumbling as he plunked all four legs back on the floor. "So
where is this place?"
Chris then grinned his wide victory grin, and Sam knew he was toast. His friend was not
just enthusiastic; he loved God with passion, and it gleamed through his eyes. That look
always made Sam uncomfortable.
Whipping out a map prepared just for the occasion Chris spread it on the table, nearly
tipping his own latte.
"Okay, okay. Here's I-90. We head over to 395, go north to here, then it's forty miles...
see the marker? We head east from the marker about ten miles to here. A thousand acres
of national forest, man!"
Too big for my brain and my feet, Sam thought. "But there're trails, right? Signs and
stuff?" The river scene from City Slickers flashed in his mind.
"Yep. We pack what we need, park somewhere and head in. I've got the GPS, so we
won't get lost. Pack first aid, we cook our own food, tent it for a few nights, and we get
to stand in the middle of what God made for a change!"
"Breathe, Chris," Sam joked, finishing his mocha. "Yeah, just think of all the fun things
we can do, like break our legs or fall off a cliff."
Chris's grin vanished and that light came over his eyes. "Better that than fall asleep here
and not even realize it."
Fall off a cliff. Sam eyed the rocky edge now over to his right, waiting, and noticed his
feet seemed of stone as well. We could be home watching the Mariners, he mused, the
air growing weightier. Panic grasped.
How far down was the drop? What if Chris was down there, injured or worse? Sam
brushed twigs from his blond hair, then an odd thought struck: either way, the cliff
would remain unchanged. In fact, were they to die out there, it would all continue--birds
singing, trees swaying in the hot breeze. Would Creation even notice their end?
Lord, we seem so fragile. Yet I know You care for every need we have. I'm Your son...
what is Your design for me?
The crows fluttered again, one swooping down to the very edge of the drop, finding some
scrap of food. It peered back at him. Luke 12:24 bolted through his mind: "Consider the
ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.
And how much more valuable you are than birds!"
God nudged Sam's heart from within and parted his fears like a drop of oil in water.
I have given you a spirit of power, love and a sound mind; NOT fear! Remember who
God's power and assurance overflowed from his heart, as if he stood in the midst of a
fountainhead, and his doubts were drowned in living water. Sam raced to the cliff's edge
and called out again, praying Chris was alright. Leaning over outcroppings obstructing
his view, he searched the ravine bed fifty feet below.
Scripture Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
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