“Sorry, fellas – we don’t see much foot traffic in these parts.” Those were the words of a rough-and-tumble cowboy riding up the steep switchbacks on horseback as his huge mountain dog lunged toward us.
Those words still ring in my head after a near-fatal trip into the wilderness in 2014, where torrential rains and flooding could have cost me and my hunting companions, Roger and Brian, our lives. There was a reason the cowboy wasn’t used to seeing foot traffic in that place. We were on an elk hunt headed to an area miles deep into the rugged Rocky Mountains, where most hunters are on horseback and use pack mules to get their gear in and out. I was not only going into an area where I’d never been before, but I was doing it with too much of the wrong gear and not enough of the right. The other factor was my lack of understanding of how the weather can change in a heartbeat, putting even the most experienced outdoorsman at risk.
We were camped on the valley floor using only bivy sacks, sleeping bags, and a tarp, when torrential rains caused sudden, massive flooding around us – in total darkness, and with no way out. My friend, Roger, was much more experienced in this part of the country, being an Air Force veteran and having gone through SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) school. His knowledge and skill were the reason the three of us made it out of there alive.
Not having brought the right rain gear to protect myself and my equipment, I was soaked to the bone in a matter of minutes just from packing up my stuff and climbing onto boulders to get above the rising waters. Within a few hours my body was shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t think straight – even how to tie a knot. While my friend, Brian, pulled one of the tarps over me, Roger quickly boiled hot liquids and encouraged me to get my sopping wet clothes off. The real wake-up call for me came when he said, “Brent, if we can’t get out of here today, we’re going to have to get your wet clothes off and put you between the two of us under a tarp to get your core temperature back up.” My response was, “Yeah – that’s not gonna happen.” That was enough to wake me up and snap me into the mindset of doing whatever it took to get back on my feet!
Recalling our adventure a year later, Roger said, “Brent, after I said that to you, I kept waiting for you to be able to walk on water because I knew you weren’t going to let that happen!” We all got a good laugh out of it, but the truth is that many of us will hold on to our pride so much that it can cause us to drown in poor choices even when the solution is simply allowing or inviting another more experienced man to speak into our lives.
“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
(Proverbs 13:20, NASB)
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Where in my life are these verses connecting right now, and what is the Holy Spirit showing me through them?