One of my favorite remote areas to hike is in northern New Mexico. In particular, Jicarita Peak is an amazing place. After hiking probably 6-7 miles through Pecos Wilderness area to get to the peak there are spectacular vistas, abundant wildlife and very few people. So we decided to have a family vacation there staying at a place called Sipapu. My daughter brought her friend from college and our teenage son came along.
So the big day came for us to get to go up to Jicarita peak. After having a great breakfast, packing our lunch and filling our water bottles, we set out on the trail. It was a beautiful day, great scenery, and everything was going as planned. Breaking out of the tree line, we decided to have lunch and just enjoy the serenity and beauty of God’s creation around us. But in the back of my mind, I started getting concerned about the cloud buildup and the way the weather seemed to be going. So for those who are not familiar with hiking in the high country… one of the worst case scenarios is to be caught above tree line in the midst of a lightning storm…. and that seemed to be what was just about to happen.
The first flash of lightening and roar of thunder was totally unexpected but we had to act fast. We packed rapidly and started hightailing it down the mountain. In the midst of hurrying, Sara twisted her knee and went down. In the midst of rain, lightning and the terror it all brings being so far from any help, she was hurting and in bad shape. With the kids looking on with fear in their eyes, I bent down to help her. What I saw in her eyes behind the tears was something I will never forget and then I heard words that forever echo in my mind… “Just leave me here to die…” In the midst of very real, tangible danger and pain, she had given up…
I reassured her that she wasn’t going to die and that we would make it through it and get her down the mountain safely. I hurriedly sent the kids on down the trail and told them we would catch up. After wrapping her knee with an ace bandage and getting a walking stick for her… trying not to look or act too concerned as the lightning flashed and thunder boomed all around… hurrying… but not too much, we finally set off down the trail. Slowly and painfully, we made it down the trail to the safety of the lower elevation, both forever changed.
Looking back now we chuckle about this incident but know that it was one that would forever change who we were and how we look at life. Sometimes life if so hard, you want to just sit down and quit… just be left to die. But that isn’t God’s plan for us. In his strength… in his courage and boldness… in his care we can keep going… sometimes painfully and slowly but we can keep going. He has also given us brothers and sisters in Christ to be the real and tangible help we need… to bandage, to help prop up, to encourage, wipe our tears, and even sometimes carry the whole load. God did not and does not leave us to die. He sent Jesus to give us life… to live! Thank you God!