Here is an excerpt from a book that my husband and I stumbled across many years ago, written by Don Ian Smith. He has since passed to his heavenly reward and the heirs have given me permission to post things from his writings here on my blog. All pictures used in my post today are from Google Images. Enjoy!
- Quite a few years ago two elk hunters were lost in the wilderness on the north slope of the Salmon River canyon. The stream they were hunting on goes from an elevation of about nine thousand feet down to about thirty-five hundred feet. From the point where the hunters became lost they could have gone uphill and found the forest service road, or they could have gone downhill and found the trail along the river. But for five days they were lost! Concerned outdoorsmen joined in the search. The weather was cold; there were snowstorms. Each day the searchers found abandoned campfires and tracks in the snow, but for five days, in their frantic efforts to save themselves, the lost men eluded the search parties. After the search was officially abandoned, one dedicated Ranger continued the effort and finally came upon the lost men. Except for his dedication, the hunters would have perished.
It is a common saying among us who enjoy the mountains that no man is lost until he has lost his head. Real lostness is a frame of mind, not a physical situation.
The interesting part of this incident is the fact that the confused, frantic effort of the lost hunters to save themselves was the very factor that made it impossible for the searchers to find them. Had they stayed by their campfire, they would have been found soon after the official search was organized.
There are many different kinds of "lostness" in our time, the least of them being literally lost in the wilderness. What person does not find, in some area of his life, a sense of lostness in terms of finding meaning, or relating to other people, or in facing up to great problems? We read the wonderful story that Jesus told about finding a lost sheep, and think of ourselves as among the ninety-nine that were safe. But Jesus wasn't talking about the ninety-nine...the lost sheep is every man.
The wonder of the Gospel is the news that we have a Shepherd who will not give up the search until the lost is found. The sad part for many is that we, either in panic or overconfidence in our ability to save ourselves, keep running frantically, up for half a day and down for half a day, never waiting in simple trust long enough to give the One who knows the way a chance to find us. OURS IS NOT A HIDDEN GOD WHO MUST BE DISCOVERED BY OUR HUMAN QUESTING. OURS IS A FATHER WHO YEARNS FOR HIS ALIENATED SON, A SHEPHERD WHO NEVER GIVES UP HIS SEARCH FOR THE SHEEP THAT IS LOST, AND REJOICES WHEN HE FINDS IT. -
(from the book 'Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails')