Distress: A State of Danger or Desperate Need

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, 
and he delivered them from their distress. 
(Psalm 107:6 NIV)

Bangert Island, February 2013

This morning, I flipped the calendar to a new month. Marking the days can be distressing, unless I look at the passing of time as a celebration. Today, I chose to celebrate. I wrote down the names of each month, then next to each month I wrote down major events. A lot has happened in 7 months. Later in the day, I realized I didn’t even write down a couple of them.

As you may have figured out by now, I also follow the church calendar. Right now we are in the midst of ordinary time, the time where we count our days until Advent, the next big season and one I have come to cherish each year. 

As I thought about this new month, I wondered if I should focus on a theme like I did last month, but nothing particular popped into my mind.  Most likely, I will write about my ordinary life. Like today’s adventure hiking at Bangert Island, with my friend Carol.

In February, I had hiked there was with my friend, Dawn, and the ground was covered with snow. We were going to meet for coffee, but it was a sunny day and she invited me to hike. We enjoyed a peaceful walk, while we talked. Our adventure refreshed our souls. 

Today on the spur of the moment, I invited Carol to join me at the park for our own little adventure. The scene gushed with green, the color of ordinary time. We walked and talked, catching up on each other’s lives. We remarked how much we both needed a little adventure, a break from the routine. We sat by the river and tried our hands at sketching the scene. After visiting for awhile, I suggested we take the longer route back. 

We had to climb over a fallen tree and mush through some mud. We lost our way for a while, as the trail became unreadable. We mostly laughed about it and then asked God to get us back to the path. In moments we saw the red ribbons tied to a tree. We made our way back to the defined path.

 We were almost to the end of our walk, when I stopped abruptly. 

A snake was coiled on the path before us. It didn’t look poisonous, and it was a very small, innocuous thing, but neither one of us wanted to step over him. (In our fright, we neglected to take a picture of the snake, which if you saw would make this story even more comical. But really snakes are not something I care to mess around with, let alone photograph.)

We looked for a way around him, but we were thwarted by poison ivy on both sides. We stood there for several minutes, unwilling to retrace our steps back or move forward. We tried throwing sticks at the snake; it wouldn’t budge. He just sat there flicking his tiny red tongue, staring us down. I told Carol, I really was paralyzed with fear. I just did not want to risk stepping over him. I cried a little prayer of distress to Our Father. 

We were about to take a running leap over the little guy, when I realized that I could call my husband and ask him for a way out of our predicament. He patiently listened, but I am sure he was shaking his head over my irrational fear of this baby snake. I told him it was small, but I didn’t want to risk the snake striking out at us. He suggested I take a long stick and poke the snake to get it off the trail. I hung up, found a stick and did what he said. The snake scuttled off into the underbrush. We were safe to resume our walk.

My spiritual takeaway from our adventure: Even the smallest of obstacles can paralyze me. But when I pray, God does indeed show me the way out. God is patient and understanding with my irrational fears. He gives me the courage to overcome them. And lastly, He doesn’t want me to journey alone. I am thankful for companions, He has provided to share in the adventure of life.
How are you celebrating ordinary time? 
What distress do you need God to deliver you from?

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