Matthew 25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Remember the Fruits of the Spirit challenge week? My family was in Utah during that week, a place none of us had ever visited. Every day was a new experience for each of us, and we tried our best to implement each fruit. While most days were wildly successful, there were definitely a few times when I felt like we failed miserably. However, I can honestly say that we all learned from our failures.
For instance, the first day we visited Zion National Park, we had no idea what to expect. We used GPS to drive there from our hotel and followed the signs into the park. It was gorgeous! We followed the signs to get on the tram, grabbed a map and decided what we wanted to see. So, to make it more adventurous, we agreed to get off of the tram one stop before our destination so that we could hike there. When the tram stopped, our family got off.
We were the ONLY ones who got off. Hmmmm……
As the tram left, we looked around to see where the trail was. We all disagreed on that but followed one person (names have been removed to protect the innocent) who seemed to know what they were doing. After walking about a hundred feet, we realized we were heading back downhill. At this point and with the tram long gone, the only way up hill that wasn’t treacherous was on the road. I’m sure we looked a sight, a family of 6, shifting from side to side of the road to avoid trams and cars full of people who probably knew WAY more than this poor, uninformed family walking for miles in this vast, mountainous terrain. Finally, after about two miles, Jase saw what he called a deer trail that ran alongside the river and told us all to get off the road and onto the trail. Tensions were rising. After a few hundred more feet, we saw some activity ahead and realized we were coming upon the next tram stop—the one that was nearest to our desired destination. We had no idea that if we had ridden to that next stop, we still would have had to hike over a mile to the waterfall and natural pools that we wanted to see.
Since it took us longer to get there than we anticipated, we arrived to start the trail with a few hundred other hikers. While the scenery was beautiful, it’s just not the same when you’re having to dodge strollers, crying toddlers and other tourists stopping abruptly right in front of you to take pictures. So, we decided to venture off on our own. We got back to our car and started the drive to the other side of the park, up a winding road and through tunnels, when all of the sudden Reed asked us to stop. He spotted something interesting and wanted to check it out. We got out of the car and followed his lead down into a dry river canyon and found ourselves completely alone. We spent the next couple of hours just exploring. We saw no other human being except the six of us. The kids climbed, Jase disappeared for a few minutes around a bend (don’t ask), Mia crawled up into a small cave, Cole took pictures from high peaks, and Reed and Brighton led us all to places we would have never seen if it weren’t for their adventurous spirits. Before leaving that spot, we set up Cole’s camera with the timer and took a picture.
We had such an awesome time together that afternoon that Reed pushed us a little too far when he suggested we stay a few more hours to hike The Narrows. Seeing that it was already late afternoon and that it was another 40 minute ride on the tram, Jase denied his request. Reed was highly disappointed, but handled it well. As we were driving away, we could see behind us the ominous dark rain clouds on our tail. We quickly realized that if we would have attempted to tour The Narrows that day, we would have been in extreme danger. Remembering that day as KINDNESS/GOODNESS, I would say that, while the day started off a little bumpy, we regrouped and ended the day with much gratefulness.
(I snapped this picture as we were driving away.)
God was so gracious to us that day. Even in our inadequacies, our lack of preparedness, He opened a path for us to be able to see, experience, appreciate and just stand in complete awe of his creation, all while keeping us safe. It was a good day.
The next day, as we spent a few hours on a golf course playing and having fun together, enjoying the views of the mountains all around us, we learned that the place we had planned on touring at The Grand Canyon was temporarily closed due to the monsoons. So, we decided to go back to Zion National Park and tour The Narrows. However, I was determined to find out all we needed to know and do to make this day a success, so I got online and learned as much as I could about how to tour this very beautiful hiking trail.
The next morning, we got up very early, made sandwiches, filled our water bottles, put on sunscreen, packed up our backpacks and hit the road. When we arrived at the Outfitters, we asked the attendant lots of questions. She said there was a high probability of a thunderstorm that afternoon, so however far we got through The Narrows that we needed to turn around at Noon and head back, no matter what. If the water starts rising inside the canyon, there is no where to go to escape and it could be very dangerous and life-threatening. “When you get to the fork a few miles in, stay to the right. Most of the deaths occur to the left.” Great. Just what Jase needed to hear.
So, we rented the cheesy, matching, hiking shoes, the neoprene socks and walking sticks and went directly to the tram. We rode the 40 minutes to the trail’s head and started up the trail on foot. A little over a mile into the hike, the paved trail ended. If you wanted to go any further, you had to hike through the Virgin River. But we were prepared. For the next few hours we experienced the most unbelievably amazing sights I have ever seen. I had no idea this was here. We were in complete awe at every turn around the bends. There were places that we were able to get out of the water and walk along the sides for a few feet. There were other times where the current was so strong that we had to help each other navigate across the river as we stepped on and through rocks and boulders to get to a safer position. There were even some places where the rushing water was chest-high! It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done (we hiked 7 miles that day), and the reward was greater than I ever expected. Spending time with my family while viewing God’s amazing creation…priceless!
A few minutes before Noon, in lieu of the park attendant’s warning about flash floods that afternoon, we decided we had gone far enough and started heading back. We stopped at a beautiful spot and ate our sandwiches that we had made early that morning. On the return, we started to notice there were more and more people on this hike. The closer we got to the river entry, the more crowded it became. On the way up we saw less than 100 people. On the way back, that number grew to over 1,000! I was stunned when we rounded the last two bends to see hundreds of people in regular tennis shoes, sandals and even flip-flops trying to navigate this terrain! They were pulling toddlers by the hand, holding babies on their chests and hips, and even some women were carrying their purses! People were falling down in the rocky current; teenage boys were jumping off large boulders into the murky water splashing other hikers; wide-eyed parents were frantically trying to keep up with their children. I was once again in awe of what I was seeing, although this time it was mass chaos.
Our pace picked up rapidly as we decided we were ready to get out of there. As we walked quickly back down the paved trail to the tram, all we could think about was how the people that were passing us were completely unprepared. Did they know of the impending thunderstorms that were hovering to our west? Did they know of the danger lurking ahead if the waters were to suddenly rise? They all passed the same bright red sign that we did that said, “TODAY’S CHANCE OF FLASH FLOOD = CERTAINTY”!
What happened to those people? I honestly have no idea. I hope and pray no one was hurt or killed. Seeing that most of them were ill-prepared for that hike gives me hope that they didn’t get that far, certainly not near as far as our family did that day. Because we took the time to learn and prepare for our adventure, we were able to enjoy the beauty of the canyons in a quiet peace that the unprepared never saw. That day we concentrated on the fruits of FAITHFULNESS and GENTLENESS.
The parable in the above scripture teaches us that if we prepare here on earth in our Christian walk, we will be ready when Jesus comes to get us, even though we don’t know when that will be.
Don’t let Jesus take you by surprise. He’s real, and He’s coming back to get His family. Will you be prepared? Do you have your cheesy-looking hiking boots, packed a lunch and have your walking stick, ready to navigate whatever lies around the next bend? Or will you grab your flip-flops and purse at the last minute and hope that will be sufficient in the rocky currents ahead?
Reed admitted on the way back to our hotel that day, “Mom, I did not want to wear those ridiculous-looking hiking shoes, but I’m glad you told us to. That was awesome!”
Have a rewarding week!