Have you ever gotten lost?
I remember once I was in Vilnius, Lithuania. I had gone for a walk, but after about 30 minutes, I realized I did not know exactly where I was.
The signs were all in Lithuanian.
You couldn’t stop someone because I knew less Lithuanian than they understood English.
Finally, after about another 30 minutes, I saw something familiar that led me back to my flat where I was staying.
It’s not a good feeling.
Yet, some find themselves in confusing circumstances.
When that happens, it’s good to know the trails.
Shortly before Christmas 1971, a Lansa flight left from Lima, Peru, for a short flight above the mountains. Passengers packed the plane, wanting to get to their Christmas destinations.
The weather turned stormy, which delayed the flight by 7 hours. But because the passengers grew anxious, pilots decided to go ahead and take off.
It left the airport at noon and quickly arrived at its cruising altitude. Then, it entered the black abyss of a thunderstorm that tossed the plane like a ragdoll in the hands of a toddler. The plane suddenly went into a dive.
One of the passengers, Juliane Koepke, sat beside her mother and calmly said, “That is the end. It is all over.” Those were the last words exchanged between the two.
When Koepke awoke from losing consciousness, she noticed she was in the group. All that was visible was the plane’s canopy.
She had survived the crash but with a broken collarbone, a concussion, and a gash on her arm. She called out to her mother, but only the jungle noises responded.
She had lost her glasses but knew from her upbringing that snakes, spiders, and mosquitoes were her foes. She also knew she could walk in the middle of a stream to avoid poisonous plants and the piranha that inhabited the shallow water.
She walked for 10 days until she heard voices. Someone was searching for the passengers. She approached them. She startled them, and some believed she was a water goddess.
They treated her wounds and gave her food. She was returned to her father, who was grieving the loss of his wife and Koepke’s mother.
She survived because she knew the trails taught to her by her parents.
Life is not easy. Confused spirits become disoriented, dimming faith in those moments. But at those times, God has a trail.
The psalmist knew.
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23–24, NIV)
When lost, go to the one who knows the trails. God can lead you through them.