I’ve been off on a family vacation for the last two weeks & am so thankful to be refreshed for the new year at Restoration. I say refreshed but rested isn’t usually a part of our family vacations.
Just about every break we get in the year, we make the trek up to Michigan to visit with our family & friends. It’s always a whirlwind of moving around and striving for intentional time with people we care about & who love us.
This year, 11 of my wife’s 12 siblings & their families came together to stay in a camp facility in south central Michigan. It was a perfect space for us, because it had generous spaces for us to be together, yet enough nooks for the introverts to find solitude. We also had a basketball gym (heated) and nice sledding hill.
I went off sledding with a few people and my oldest son, who is 9. We had a blast going down the hills together, getting sprayed in the face by fresh powder snow. Then, because it was sub-freezing cold (it was 10* at the time) & close to dinner, we started heading back.
The normal way to get to the cottages was to walk the path around this field that connects to the main road. But my son wondered why we just couldn’t cross the frozen field, basically bee-lining back? He really wanted to brave the wilderness & from our vantage point on the hill, it didn’t look that far. But something about it didn’t feel right to me. If it’s a straight line from the cottage to the hill, why wasn’t there a path, I wondered.
I didn’t want to discourage him so he & I started our way down the hill to the field while everyone else went the long way. Walking through, the snow was deep and the foliage was thicker up close. We were jamming knee deep into the snow as we stabbed our way across. Being heavier than my son, I pretty soon found myself cracking through a layer of ice that was covered by 2-3ft of snow. This bothered me a bit because it was not getting easier as we stepped forward.
I advised him that we should work out way to the next big tree then plan to the get to the next one. But with each step, I was getting less secure that we were on solid ground. I worked my way ahead of my son and asked him not to step into my footsteps. I was stepping through pretty deep stuff… and that layer of ice was troubling.
Suddenly, I feel forward on my right foot and it stabbed through 2 feet of snow and broke through ice, now I could feel my boot driving through slushy mud and sinking fast. I stopped hard and yelled for him to stop. I couldn’t free my foot at all & could feel the cold water soaking over my boot and through my pants.
“We’re on a pond!” I yelled. “And I’m stuck. Stop please and let me get myself out.” He got pretty scared for me & tried to keep calm worried that we could break through deeper water.
I prayed in my heart to Jesus specifically to calm me & to guide us out of this safely. Then I pulled at my leg & slowly my foot came out, surprisingly with my boot still attached. Free, I began to quickly navigate our way back to the closest higher ground. My son was scared but followed my instructions well. We got to the hillside out of breath but safely, but I was concerned about my wet foot in such cold temperatures.
I assured him that I’d be okay and to follow me back to the cottage on the longer path. As we walked together, me out of breath and trying to still my heart, he asked if we could hold hands.
We walked together and I shared with him how even though it was scary, God was with us and how He kept us safe. I promised him that we would more likely endure other scary times together–maybe worse than this one—but that God would always be with us & will lead us through things.
I tried to nap later that day but woke up a few times with images of what could have happened. But was reassured by that feeling of his hand into mine & thankful that God gave us that moment together to learn that we need him and each other into to navigate life’s perils.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2