Click on the image to enlarge it.
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:3-4)
I was on my second solo backpacking trip at Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania, Australia. It was April, and the beautiful fagus leaves (Nothofagus gunnii, or Deciduous Beech) were in their peak color. Fagus is only found in Tasmania, and it is Australia’s only cold climate deciduous tree. In autumn it paints the flanks of Tassie’s iconic Cradle Mountain, in brilliant patches of yellow.
I had four days completely to myself, something nearly incomprehensible to a mother. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had had this much time alone. But in between the last time and this time I had been through some severe traumas. Though I definitely experienced the affects of these traumas, motherhood never allowed me a space of time long enough to assess just how deeply these traumas had damaged me, for motherhood’s constant demands necessitated virtually all of my time, attention and energies….which, I suppose, in a way, was a blessing in disguise.
Within the very first hour of leaving my doorstep the traumas began to hit me in full force, for I had no external demands with which to deflect them. I had never triaged, let alone, plumbed the depths of the damage, and I greatly feared this as I headed into the mountains alone for four days. However, I had my God and his Word (the Bible), which have always been all I ever needed in times of great difficulty.
Many fears and worries assaulted me on my trip. Could I handle four days alone with my thoughts and emotions engulfed in trauma? I carried a backpack approximately 40% of my bodyweight, for it was weighed down with photography equipment. Could my body, too emotionally stressed to hardly eat or sleep, handle the physical demands of backpacking through the mountains? I was also new to backpacking and had never been this way before, so I was apprehensive of the unknown and my fearful of my inexperience. Furthermore, could I handle the ensuing spiritual battle, which was now emerging upon the traumas and waging war on my mind?
As I climbed Hanson’s Peak I cried out again and again, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me” (Psalm 69:1-2). The emotional and psychological burden I carried was far heavier than the massive load strapped to my back.
I knew to give in to all my fears and unbelief, to not trust God or to believe in his Word, would be a failure and a battle lost. Not that this was in any way a personal “performance” or “achievement” issue, but something deep down in my spirit believed and knew that God’s grace would be fully sufficient for me and that God’s Word would truly sustain me (for I clearly felt it was God’s will for me to go on this trip).
As I quoted the Word of God to myself and pressed on in faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), I earnestly prayed that God would provide a Christian to encourage me at the camp I was headed for. When by God’s grace I finally made it, a friendly couple was sitting outside the hut and greeted me. It just so happened they were the direct answer to my prayer, for they were Christians and even knew of and enjoyed my artwork.
The love of God expressed to me through this answered prayer as well as through the kindness and love shown to me by this Christian couple, ministered very deeply to me in my time of deep distress. Thank you, God, with all my heart, for your great kindness and love to me. The following morning I had an exceptionally great time of fellowship with the woman. I was greatly uplifted and bolstered in my faith through this remarkable time of God’s personal love and faithfulness shown to me.
As I was returning I had to pass through a dark grove of fagus, yet ahead I could see the sunlight brilliantly illuminating my path and the fagus leaves ahead. The lighting was just perfect, and the scene seemed to metaphorically capture everything I was going through.
Though I was walking in great darkness which seemed, at times, like the valley of the shadow of death, the light of God’s Word illumined my path ahead. I knew I could fully trust every word.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
The light of God’s presence with me was apparent, even in my place of darkness. And even in the midst of unspeakable trauma, pain and grief, the glorious gold of God’s love for me and his blessing upon my trip not only penetrated but permeated my dark surroundings.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)
Yes, Lord, your Holy Spirit and your Word are my counsellors. They have always been wholly sufficient to meet my every need, to heal my every wound, to deal with every dark and difficult issue in my life, to counsel me through every seemingly impossible problem, to support me through every trial, to comfort me in every sorrow and to grant me victory in every battle.
There is nothing that your Holy Spirit and your Word cannot do.
“And I [Jesus] will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)
“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24)