Over my lifetime, my relationship with God has been different than most. I seem to be “all in” or “all-out”. I am one that has had to learn things the hard way, rather than just being taught and continue holding to the iron rod.
I would like to share an event that took place in my life that has been the focal point of me getting back into my relationship with God.
Years ago, I had a health care business that was successful. I had been able to create a thriving business in Utah, employing 750 people. I was financially set, and proud of this accomplishment.
But arrogance soon had overcome me, and I took credit personally for my success. I did not need God in my life. Complicating matters, I felt it rather difficult to mix the anxiety that I have routinely in life, with the principles of faith, patience, and trust which are necessary to stay connected with Him. I decided to continue my life without God’s help. I was on my own now, with this new illusion that I could accomplish anything on my own. I stopped praying, going to church, and living the commandments.
I have four “brothers”, Jeff, Phillip, Bryce, and Scott. Two of us are not brothers by birth, but we have been close friends with each other since childhood. I have spent my entire life pushing the boundaries of adventure with these guys…. And what a great life it has been!
One event that I was never a part of with these guys was the elk hunt. Way deep into the Uinta mountains, the journey was by horseback. The continuous mountains rolled in different directions, and the timber was thick, with few occasional spots of a clearing. This hunt was in an area that you would never see any other hunters. My brothers however were so comfortable being in that environment. I wanted to join them, but I knew that I would never be able to. Why? Cuz…. I get lost in the mall. =)
If I could only find a way to navigate in such a place I would then be able to join them. One year I got my answer. It was the introduction of the handheld GPS navigation devices that would give me a chance to join my brothers on the hunt.
After buying one, I spent 6 months mastering the gadget. I would set a ‘waypoint’ at a location I desired and then name it. Walking or driving far away, I would set it to guide me back to that location. Simple, effective, and the perfect solution.
After explaining to my brothers what I had found, I asked to join them on their next hunt. I was in!
The time had come. After much anticipation and preparation, we all headed out into “no mans’ land. The journey to the campsite was challenging. To me, it was impossible to figure out how these guys were able to navigate the trailess mountains. They seemed to continue through this unmarked forest directly towards their campsite without issue though.
After a long hike in, we were finally there at camp. Inside a huge tent, complete with a stove for warmth, we were once again together, sharing stories of past times. With great anticipation, we looked forward to the morning’s hunt.
That night, I had set my waypoint detailing the location of our camp and was confident that I would be able to find my way back.
Morning came… wait, let me start over.. 4:30 am came, and we hiked as a group to where we would start hunting. It had snowed heavily during the night, and when it became light, I was in awe of the beauty that I saw. Snow-covered trees, the crisp clean air, and these majestic mountains that I had never seen before. It… Was… Awesome!!!
We all ventured off into different directions, with the understanding that we would meet back at camp for dinner. Within seconds, they all disappeared into the trees. I was by myself, and anxious for the hunt.
I heard some crashing through the trees and was excited to hear the elk moving ahead of me. With stealth, I moved toward their location, but never caught up with the heard.
It was still morning. I thought that I should get out my GPS and make sure that I could get back to camp to reassure myself.
I turned it on. It was acting funny… What??? There were not any waypoints on the screen at all. I took some steps down the side of the mountain, and the camp waypoint appeared. Whew! I then started to follow the arrow pointing toward our camp. However, it seemed to change direction sending me all over the mountain.
I realized that something was causing my GPS to malfunction. I spent the entire day trying to figure out the senseless communication that was being displayed. This gadget was useless! Nothing seemed to make sense with the direction provided. I was lost. Visually, there was no way I would be able to find camp. All that I could see was thick dense timber. I was in trouble… and I knew it. I frantically searched all day for camp or my brothers.
Firing my gun in a 3 shot series did not produce any reply. I had spent the entire day trying to save myself. It was now dark… well into the night. Still snowing, I was exhausted, cold, and defeated. I would not make it through the night in these conditions. What else could I do to survive? I had come to terms with the inevitable outcome. This night would be my last, and I continued to dwell on the fact that I was freezing… to death… literally!
I pulled the tracking device from my coat searching for anything. I stared at the letters on the front which were, “G.P.S.” The message to me was strong. “God, Please Save”!
I fell onto the snowy ground and wept. I had decided to live my life without Him, and now, I had proven to myself the disasterous consequences of making such a choice. Relying on just myself, and the technology of the world was not sufficient for me to live my life. What have I done? Why would I leave Him?
Rolling onto my knees, I called upon my God who I had once known so deeply. I wanted Him to know what a mistake that I had made in trying to live my life without His help, and love. I confessed my foolishness and felt such shame for what I had done.
The tears on my face had frozen, and my eyes were unable to open. I continued to apologize. I hesitated to even ask for His help, as I have always accepted the consequences of my actions.
As I thought to ask for His help, I had such an overwhelming sense of love come over me. I knew God loved me. And, I knew that He would help me if I would simply ask.
I plead with Him to help me find a way to be rescued.
After my prayer, I stood up, and without any hesitation whatsoever, I started to walk a straight line into the darkness. Although frozen, I had a fire inside of me which encouraged me to take one step at a time. I was being led by a power that I can not explain, other than to say that I was extremely confident I was walking towards help.
I walked for a considerable amount of time, always straight in my direction, and never stopping to rest. And then….. I saw a campfire in the darkest of nights. I ran towards it and fell into the arms of a startled brother.. Jeff who was at the campsite. We embraced with joy, yet I knew the lecture was coming. =)
“Where have you BEEN!!”
They had been looking for me since early on. Phillip and Bryce had taken the horses and were just returning after riding all of the way down to the trucks, thinking that I might have gone there.
The reunion was ecstatic! Not just with my brothers who would all give their lives trying to rescue mine, but with my Heavenly Father, who I had returned to that night as well.
(A special shout out to my brothers for such a sacrifice, risking their own safety in trying to rescue me. You can’t find someone who is always on the move, even given all of the skills that you have. I will forever be in your debt).
It was after the trip, that we all discovered the reason the GPS was not functioning properly. It was due to the satellite signal being disrupted by the thick timber as well as the heavy cloud cover on the mountain. It was indeed useless for me in that situation.
Today, my relation with God has never been stronger. The pattern throughout my life is always consistent. When I get busy with just living life, and start to drift away from His presence, a hardship always seems to surface. Because of it, I am humbled and again realize that I need Him every minute of every day, and not just occassionally.
“God loves us just how we are… But, too much to leave us that way”. I invite all of you who read this to get to know Him. You know that there is someone up there, as I’m sure you have felt it. When you make bad choices through sin, you feel hollow and dark. But when you love and help others, you feel warm inside. Why is that?
To find God is simple. For one week, find a quiet place each day to pray. Out of respect, kneel while you pray. In your mind, or out loud, just start talking to him.
Start by calling Him by His name, “Heavenly Father”… then just talk to Him like you would to a loving, kind father. Tell Him what you’re thankful for, because, just like any parent, I’m sure he’d like to hear that. Then ask Him for help with what you are struggling with, in your life. Then close your prayer, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” The reason that we close that way is that it is always through Jesus Christ that we are able to come to God.
Jesus has paid for your sins with his sacrifice of the atonement. You can ask to be forgiven of your mistakes, and He will cleanse you. That being said, don’t think for a minute that you are not good enough to have a relationship with God. “He loves you just as you are, but too much to leave you that way”. Think about what that means to you.
At the end of your week of daily prayer, answer these questions. Has saying these prayers made you feel good inside? Did it made a difference in how you felt that week? If the answer is yes, then you have had perhaps one of your first experiences in getting a confirmation that there is a God. Continue your journey, again looking for a change of how you feel inside as you study and learn about Him.
Don’t get caught up in the false narrative of, “I have prayed and asked for something, and I didn’t get it… that means there is no God”. Think of it this way, If God is a perfect Father, is he going to always give you what you want? Do you as a parent treat your kids that way? If you did, they will develop into spoiled little brats, which is not the ideal outcome that we have in mind as parents.
I can promise you that as you study any book of Him, the feeling that I’m trying to describe of the warmth inside of you, will get stronger. This is how YOU will know that God is real. Don’t take someone word about it, find out for yourself.
I’m writing this blog today for one person, and that person is…. YOU! I want you to skip a lifetime of learning things the hard way as I have. Get to know God, and do it because it will enhance your life in ways that you can only wish for.
One last thought. I’d like to share another story. I share this story because I feel strongly that something similar is going to be happening to God’s followers very soon. I want YOU to be a part of this miracle.
It is a bible story of God saving people who were running away from an army that was trying to kill them.
Moses was a leader who rescued thousands of people from being slaves. He had worked a deal with the slave ruler to release them into the wilderness, which he did. But shortly after they left the city, he changed his mind and sent his army out to slaughter them.
Here comes the miracle. Moses and all of the people were stopped at the banks of the Red Sea. They were trapped and could go no further. Seeing the army coming for them, they surely knew that they were doing to die.
Moses, a prophet of God, commanded the sea to part… which it did. It opened up, allowing all of his people to walk on the seafloor to the other side, saving them from death. The sea then crashed down as it was before, killing the army that was in pursuit.
I KNOW that God can protect us. He can save us…. Just as He saved me up in the snowy Uinta mountains. Get to know Him. Let your daily journey through this crazy time in life include Him.
My love for all of you reading this is strong. It’s time for you to get reacquainted with your Heavenly Father. Please do it this week. There is no greater gift or advice that I could offer to you. I pray that you will soon feel His love. Replace your fear with God’s love.