Deb and I are set to host another Harvest Party here at South Moon in a few weeks. It has become a Fall tradition of ours to invite friends and family to come out to our place for some chili, pumpkin carving and a campfire devotional.
Oh yeah….. and the haunted hike.
Just down the road is the Luker family woods. The Luker family decorates it with spooky faces and spider webs and such so people can take a haunted hike on the cool Autumn evenings around Halloween. Most years we are blessed to have the Lukers, Leon and Ann Marie, to provide us with a hay ride to the woods and back. But a couple of years back the wagon broke down and I was faced with leading our little party through the woods myself. What should have been a 20 minute hike turned into a 75 minute survival expedition.
I’ve hiked the woods numerous times….usually with my old side-kick, Dooley, the Labrador wonder dog. This time was different. It was dark and the leaves had fallen on the trail. I was leading about 25 people, small children, adults and a few babes in arms through the winding haunted trail. As we emerged from the trail, I observed the pole light from the Luker barn and with those bearings, I led my little party back toward our house where hot chocolate and marshmallows awaited us.
When we first emerged from the woods it was darker than when we had entered. Even though I had hiked this trail just a few weeks before, it felt different. It looked different but then, it was dark and I supposed that it was just my imagination. I had a small flashlight but it only illuminated about 10 feet ahead. When I spotted the pole light on the Luker barn I was more confident and I picked up the pace. We moved quickly but the barn seemed further away than usual. Several of the kids were becoming tired and some of the adults were expressing concerns about the time it was taking us to get back to the main road. When we were in sight of the barn, I realized the problem. The pole light which I used as my beacon was not on the Luker farm. To my shame, I had led us the wrong direction. We had hiked at least 20 minutes in the wrong direction. Wrong light, wrong barn, wrong way.
Looking just beyond this farm I saw more lights which I recognized as the little town of Van Dyne. I announced to the group that I knew where we were now and I knew how to get us back. A murmuring came up from the ranks and I felt quite Mosaic, to say the least. I led our little group past the farm and across some railroad tracks and north on the sidewalks of the little town of Van Dyne. Past the auto repair shop and two taverns then left back across the railroad tracks then past the gun club to the end of Swiss Road.
By the time we reached my house, it was late. Kids had to go potty. Adults complained of achy feet and a light rain had begun to fall. The hot chocolate was cold. The marshmallows had been eaten by Dooley. One by one, people loaded sleepy kids into their cars and taillights disappeared as our guests left for home.
Since that fateful night, anytime we announce the invitation to our harvest party, I get reminded of my goof. “Hey Cleveland,” “are we going on the hike?” (wink-wink) “Should I bring my survival gear?” (smirk-smirk) “I’ve got a global positioning device….should I bring it along?” (snicker-snicker)
Bottom line is that I admit I made a mistake. I found myself lost and sought the wrong light as my point of reference. Even though I moved confidently toward the light, I was mistaken about where I was and I was mistaken about where I was headed.
Since that day, I have pondered over the parallels of the events of that evening and the way life’s journey is experienced by my fellow travelers. The question begs to be asked. “What light am I following and where is it leading me?” And a second question follows: “If I find that the light which is guiding me is the wrong one, will I make course corrections toward the true way?”
These are questions of Messianic proportion. Kind traveler, I ask you to consider the path you are on. I recommend to you Jesus, the light of the world….the true light that gives light to every man…. (Gospel of John 1:9) He will not disappoint. He will not mislead. He will not fail. He will lead you home.