But to God the night shines as bright as day

Psalm 139:11-12 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in the darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

My dad used to say “You’re not really lost if you can speak the local language.” He wasn’t thinking of being lost in unfamiliar woods on a night with no moon and only the night creatures around you. That was my case when I went hiking in the Bear Run Nature Reserve one autumn afternoon, missed a turn or two where there were no signposts, and couldn’t figure out my way back.

As darkness deepened my anxiety increased, chiefly because Karis and a friend were expecting me to pick them up from their tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater when the house closed for the day at 5:00 p.m. We had carefully calculated her IV and medication schedule to accommodate this tour. Her medical supplies were in our car and I had the keys. We were an hour and a half from home, and it was growing very cold.

The bright spot in this scenario (pun intended) was that I had my cell phone. It wasn’t a smart or iphone, and the signal came and went, but as long as I had a charge, I could use its light. I tried several times to call Karis, without success. “Help, Lord!” was my eloquent prayer.

As I crashed along through the leaves, trying to make as much noise as possible to scare off any critters that might be sharing this adventure with me, my phone suddenly rang. It was a park ranger! When I didn’t show up, Karis had alerted a ranger with the help of Fallingwater personnel. Karis was fine, the ranger assured me. Her friend had broken into our car, so she had access to her IVs and medications, and protection from the cold. Relief flooded through me.

There were two rangers in the park looking for me. I was instructed to walk in the direction I was going until I reached an intersection of trails with a signpost, and a cell phone signal. Then I was to call the ranger back and they would know where I was. To conserve the charge on my phone, I shone it briefly to see the next piece of trail and whether there was a sign post, walked the distance I could see, then shone my little light briefly again.

Within a couple of hours, one of the rangers found me, only about half an hour from the entrance to the park, led me out with his powerful flashlight, and drove me “next door” to the Fallingwater parking lot where Karis waited with her friend. Later, I studied a trail map with the indicators I had, and calculated that I had walked close to twenty miles.

“You’re not really lost if you can speak the local language.” God speaks every language, and access to him doesn’t depend on having enough phone charge or a signal. Or eloquence.

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