It was a cold night near the end of winter. The days had been unseasonably warm, a blessed prelude to spring, but also a lure for unsuspecting and unprepared wanderers. My family and I came home from church, and as we made our way down the hill to our home I saw a fire flickering through the trees just across the river. I knew there was an oft-used campsite over there, and remarked "someone is out camping tonight; it is really pretty cold for that."
As soon as we parked the vehicle in the driveway and disembarked, I heard a voice shouting, "Hey! Hey over there! We need some help!"
My initial reaction was caution and paranoia. This seemed like every out-in-the-woods horror tale to ever grace the silver screen. A voice calls out from the darkness the innocent and unsuspecting would-be heroes make their way out into the trees the chainsaw fires up, and all of the good guys are cut to bits while the people watching in the theater seats are saying, "Dude, that was dumb; never follow a voice out into the dark woods in the middle of the night!"
But then I remembered that the voice from the unknown personage was a many many mile walk from civilization on that side of the river. I figured that the average horror-film bad guy would not be quite so energetic.
So I made my way down to the banks of the river and called across, "Hey! What's the problem!"
The voice responded, "We're lost, and our flashlight is dead; we don't know how to get back!"
A moment later I was on the phone with the local sheriff, and he was arranging to get officers with ATVs onto the trail. And a few moments after that, my son and I were dragging the kayaks to the river's edge. The officer told me that the kid's parents had already called in frantically searching for them, unaware of their location, and my information had given them the exact spot.
They were young, had never been on that trail, and were out in the cold night of what had been a warm day.
Caleb and I dipped paddles into the water with our headlamps piercing the darkness and began to paddle across the strong current. I really did not want either of us to flip a kayak into those pitch-black waters, and, thankfully, we did not.
A few moments later we were out on the other side, and carrying coats to a couple of cold kids in the darkness huddled up by a small fire. We waited with them for a good while till motorized help arrived to carry them back to their frantic parents.
A few moments later my son and I were back across the dark waters and making for the lights of home, and the warmth waiting inside.
It was on my mind the rest of the night; two people lost and scared in the darkness. Oh, how very much like the plight of mankind, as told in
-2 Corinthians 4:4: "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
The devil has cast a pall of darkness over this world, blinding people's minds to the glorious gospel of Christ, trying desperately to keep them from that light. People go about their days scratching about, trying to find their way in the darkness of sin, seemingly unaware that there is a much better way, as told in
-Isaiah 2:5: "O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."
-1 John 1:7: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
-John 8:12: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
I have been a born-again Christian for 39 years now, having come to know him as my personal Savior in my youth. He has delighted me with his presence, spoken peace to me on days of turmoil and sadness, guided my footsteps in times of uncertainty, corrected me when I have done wrong and made me glad every single day that I am his and he is mine.
There is light in Jesus. There is a remedy for the darkness. You do not have to shiver in the cold of sin. There is a much better way.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.