Find Him in the Rain
Dazzled. That’s the best word I can think of to describe my reaction as I stepped off the old, green school bus in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
And awed. Scott, our bus driver, told us that in the eighteen years he’d been driving groups through the park our view of Denali (Mt. McKinley) was unlike any he’d ever seen.
I was humbled when, a few minutes later, a wolf crept over a nearby hill and passed fifteen feet in front of us as we picked wild blueberries from the tundra.
As we hiked I was exhilarated. Crisscrossing powerful glacial rivers made my heart race with simultaneous bursts of excitement and fear.
By the end of the day, I was simply at peace. The beauty of the landscape was beyond words. Our route had been hard but gratifying. I was tired and content and insanely happy.
As the Alaskan summer sun finally dipped below the horizon, we casually discussed our plans for the next few days: Which mountains we might try to scale, what path would give us the best view as we secured a new campsite the following night, and if we should try to check out the plateau we could just make out in the distance.
The next morning we stretched our sore muscles and reviewed our options. When the rain started, it seemed like only a minor setback. When the temperature started to drop, we still felt pretty good. But by the end of our second day we were cold, totally soaked, and nowhere near our intended route.
As we set up our tents in the wind and rain, we realized that, amidst our attempts to stay warm throughout the day, we had kind of forgotten to eat (which, I realize, is not an ideal strategy when backpacking). That night it took every ounce of energy I could muster to crawl out of my sleeping bag and run the 100 cold, wet feet to our bear canister to secure a granola bar. As my frigid hands fumbled with the lock, my foot slipped on the rocky riverbed we’d chosen for our second campsite.
We had been walking along the riverbed all day. It was nothing like the previous day – hiking through arctic tundra, up and down hills, along ridges, and bushwhacking our way through dense, brushy fields. The riverbed was flat and more-or-less a straight shot – not the Denali experience we had planned on.
We weren’t where we wanted to be, and we hadn’t done what we had wanted to do. But as I crossed back over the rocks and stones, I was keenly aware of how blessed we were. We couldn’t do anything about the rain, and without the riverbed it would have proved overwhelming. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already experiencing the beginning stages of frostbite in my left hand. Thankfully, the riverbed had positioned us to make it back to civilization and warmth a lot sooner than we otherwise would have. It had protected us from the wind, and it kept us from getting even more drenched than we already were.
It would have been easy to complain. We were, after all, still very wet and very cold, and our trip hadn’t gone how we imagined it would. We didn’t want to walk along a riverbed with all of the beautiful terrain surrounding us. But as I drifted to sleep all I could do was smile and think, Thank you, Lord, for this riverbed. We were cold, soaked, and fatigued, but every time I rolled over and felt a rock poke into my back or side I was again dazzled, awed, humbled, exhilarated, and at peace.
When life doesn’t go as planned, it’s easy to look at the negatives – to categorize the things that go wrong; it would have been easy to see the riverbed as a defeat. It’s harder to search for the blessings. But they’re there. If God lays a road in front of you, He will equip you to walk it. So, search for His blessings – find Him in the rain. It may be as simple as looking down while you walk and thanking Him for the path He’s put under your feet.