Some folks hit the lake on Memorial Weekend, but our gang heads for the hills — the hills of Missouri to be exact. They’ve become our annual destination since Mom and Dad moved there nearly 20 years ago. While others are boating and water skiing, we get back to nature by trekking through the Ozark mountains.
This year we ended up with a little too much nature, in fact. What started out as a fun family outing down a nature trail near Mom and Dad’s house soon spiraled out of control into a wilderness family fiasco. Around two or three months ago, Dad had inspected the trail and found it to be in good shape. Not so this weekend.
I guess the first clue should have been the fallen tree blocking the path less than 10 feet from the trail head. Someone even said, “This doesn’t look too good”, but determined to have our adventure, we forged ahead. After playing limbo with the tree trunk while avoiding other maverick undergrowth, we fell into single file as we snaked along, attempting to follow in Dad’s footsteps.
The unrelenting rains of the past several weeks contributed not only to the runaway growth of the woodland floor but also to the tricky path we found underfoot. All of a sudden our little jaunt into the woods morphed into a task fraught with unexpected perils.
We concentrated on every step, so as not to twist our ankles. Talk of ticks and poison ivy soon surfaced, though most of us had made sure to use insect repellent before we left for the hike. When Dad began calling out poison ivy alerts, my sister Janice said, “I’m outta here” then darted back the way we came. Not long after that, someone trumpeted the first tick announcement. Everyone went on high alert but to no avail. One by one, we answered in disgust with our own discoveries of the dreaded enemies. Complaints began to flow freely. I admit to muttering more than once, “This is the most stupid thing we’ve ever done.” :)
Deep into the trail by this time, our daughter Kristin began feeling the onslaught of another enemy — out-of-control allergies. Combine that with the creeped-out feelings inspired by the ticks, and she and Shawn hightailed it next. Within the next couple of minutes, my sister Carolyn and I decided it was utter madness to stay in tick territory any longer than absolutely necessary. We turned back and caught up with Kristin and Shawn in no time flat. The others continued on but ended up exiting the trail early rather than retracing their steps as originally planned. Some might say nature kicked our butts that day, but I’d rather say, “we lived to tell about it.”
Traveling the trails of our spiritual lives is not so different from our Memorial Weekend “tick hike”, as our family later affectionately dubbed it. The adversary of our souls keeps our paths strewn with traps to avoid and enemies to battle. The Word of God tells us to “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9a)
Instead of arming ourselves with insect repellent, we can arm ourselves with the Word of God and prayer. We can train our eyes to detect the poisons that threaten to do us harm. We can pull off the enemies that try to attach themselves to our minds and souls, and sometimes we may even need to hightail it out of certain situations.
I’m so glad God hasn’t left us defenseless against the evil one. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us how we can put on the armor of God each day as we take our stand against the devil’s schemes.
Come now and join me — let’s put on the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness. Let’s fit our feet with readiness and take up the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. And let’s pray. And be alert. And keep on praying… Let’s live to tell about it, huh?