Ice Balls and Lightning Bolts
It was terrifying. I was on my knees praying.
A few hours earlier, I had just wrapped up giving a talk and facilitating a discussion about courage to some young men and their fathers. We had then packed up camp and journeyed on towards our next campsite, on a 4 night backpacking trip in the Medicine Bow National Forrest of Wyoming.
And now, we all needed all the courage we could muster.
We were caught right around tree line, when the lighting started falling. We all spread out and and assumed lighting position, hoping the storm would pass quickly.
And then it began.
It started slowly, with small, insignificant pea-sized hail. We kind of smiled and looked at each other like, "really, is this happening?"
But over the next few minutes the size of the hail grew to something closer to a quarter, or even golf ball sized, and it started to feel a lot more life-threatening.
As I got welts on my back and tried to protect my head, I was scrambling to come up with a means of escape in case the chunks of ice kept growing. Praise God, they didn't.
But they did keep coming. For 25 minutes.
Enough time for all of us to start crying out to God for protection, and mercy. Meanwhile, lightning flashed all around.
It was during this time that I was shown a picture of the fathers love. Sacrificial love.
One of the fathers on our trip stood, bent over his son, the entire time, protecting his young son from receiving the brunt of the hail, taking it all himself. While I was crying out in pain with each welt-inducing smack on my back, he stood there quietly, absorbing hit after hit.
And I observed the love of the son. His son was not as concerned for himself, but continually asked if his dad was protecting his own head.
Towards the end of the deluge, several in the group were shivering violently. After force-feeding them some small candy bars, we got moving. When we reached camp, we were all exhausted, soaked, and freezing. Everyone was thinking the same thing: should we just pack it in and head for the exit?
At that point, it would have been easier for all of us to just mail it in and go home, blaming it on mother nature.
We made camp. We dried out our shoes (and I may have inadvertently melted mine...) and our gear. We continued to engage in the adventure that God had laid out for us, and were better men for it.
If we had chosen the easy way out, we would have missed a fantastic time of stories around the fire that night, a hilarious time of gamesmanship and a deeply meaningful time of blessing the next day.
Sometimes we come upon an event that gives us an opportunity to step in to courageous action. Other times, the event is forced upon us. In either case, we have the option of tucking tail and running/hiding, or we can step into the moment, lead, and learn something about ourselves.
We often equate fearlessness with courage. But I would argue that fearlessness is actually more equivalent to recklessness. Courage does not happen with out fear. Often in our moments of courage, we are still crying out to God, praying for rescue, while we continue to move forward in action. And these are the best stories.
And those stories don't end with the fear. There is always more to the story. There is always blessing and glory born out of moments of courageous actions.
When have you recently had to step into a situation that frightened you? Did you lead with courage? What was the glory that followed?
Director of Resource Initiatives