Mark H.

Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

My Christian life was typical as a youth growing up in a Christian home. I believed in God, participated in the life of the church, and developed a basic understanding of Christian teachings.

At age 16, something happened to me that tested and strengthened my faith, and ultimately made God more real for me. Feeling confident and independent, I set off on a three-day trek near the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. Striding into the mountains that first evening, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being followed, but I pressed on and made camp for the night. I set up a hammock, covered with a tarp, as shelter and settled in as darkness fell. It was then that I heard footsteps crunching through the woods heading toward my improvised cocoon. Sensing evil and realizing how vulnerable I was suspended in the air and unable to see, I began to pray.

My prayer was simple. “God, let me live to see the light of day.” The sounds grew closer, approached and circled my camp, as my prayer became deeper; deeper and more focused. Repeating over and over in my mind, “God, let me live to see the light of day.”

I was surprised to see a light shining off my right shoulder. Was it the moon? No, there wasn’t a full moon that night. A flashlight, maybe? No, not when the light grew larger … brighter … and moved underneath the tarp. It flooded my space with light, and then completely enveloped me from head to toe. I could actually see this bright light expanding around my shelter, extending outward, thickening, and protecting me. 

My prayer was simple. “God, let me live to see the light of day.

The sounds of footsteps soon faded in the opposite direction from which they came, and I fell into a restful sleep. I awoke at sunrise to a gloriously bright and new day and I knew that I was different. I felt calm, safe and secure.

I never did learn what threatened me that night in the woods, and I have since returned many times to hike and camp in the Appalachian Mountains. But now I travel throughout my days carrying the calm and secure truth that God is my protector.

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