Several years ago, while serving as a scout master, I participated in a troop mountain bike trek. The destination was the rugged Maah Daah Hey Trail which runs through the Badlands of western North Dakota. After months of training, consulting and careful planning, we set off on our adventure.
Despite the 95 degree temperature and not having ridden the trail before, everyone was excited and eager to tackle the first day's 30-mile segment. Feeling confident that we could easily make it to our destination that night we decided against any support vehicle assistance at the few trail access points.
The difficulties started right away. We inadvertently traveled 10 miles in the wrong direction. The steep sandy trails were much more physically demanding than expected. Some of us had bike troubles and minor injuries, leg cramps, blisters and chaffing. The map seemed inconsistent at times. The trail, an unremarkable cow path, was hard to follow with many similar diverging trails. The only way to be sure we were on the correct trail was to see an occasional post stamped with a turtle symbol. To make matters worse, our water supplies were almost gone and our slower pace placed us far from our destination.
Bishop Tyson Williams
As darkness fell, so did the temperature and our spirits. We then realized that we failed to pack helmet or bike lights to help guide us in the dark. We had to walk our bikes. Every diverging trail had to be explored in the dark. At one point we became lost and we had the scouts all huddle together for warmth. Our energies were spent. We were in danger.
It was in this dire situation that one of the most wonderful things happened. The horizon started to lighten as if the sun was rising. It was the northern lights, showing brighter than I had ever seen before. As they danced before us to the north they showed us the way. It was so bright that we could see the signs. We were able to once again ride our bikes. It was not until after 3:30 a.m. that we were finally safe. I have never before and never since been so utterly exhausted. Equally, I was also deeply grateful to God to see us through as I truly felt the lights were sent for us.
In the Bible, Jesus proclaims, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life." Also, in Proverbs we read, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths." His light will always chase the darkness away.
No matter what the difficulties, disappointments or how lost we might become, the light and mercy of Jesus Christ is always there to give us hope and to lead us home.