The winter had been long and uneventful, and the young man struggled to wait patiently for spring to arrive. There was plenty to do, but his great love was hiking outdoors.
Every summer was spent along a riverbank or scrambling through brush as he explored an area with his dog. His girlfriend joined him on the weekends, but she preferred to know where they would end up while he did not.
He rode the bike at the gym without passion. As he was going through the motions, the man next to him spoke. After talking for a few minutes, the young man explained his passion and the frustration of waiting that he now endured. The man seemed to understand him very well, relating that he was a fly fisherman.
In the midst of the discussion, the man inquired why the younger man didn’t snowshoe. Surprised and embarrassed, the younger man admitted he had never considered it. At once the conversation turned to the benefits and methods to snowshoe, and the younger man eagerly embraced the idea.
He and his dog stepped out for a trial walk on a familiar trail. His dog leapt through the snow easily, happy to be outdoors and exploring again. The pair set off toward the river and the old bridge he had crossed since childhood. Exhilarated by the exercise, the young man sat down on the bridge to enjoy the moment. The wind blew a blast of cold, and he turned his head away, not bothered in the least by the cold.
After a time he stood up and took a step forward, but felt his back foot catch. Turning around, he realized the snowshoe was stuck fast between the slats of the bridge. He shifted his weight, and began to pry his foot out. There was a sound he didn’t expect, a distinct crack. His back leg fell through a broken board while his front leg remained stuck. The cold water rushed against his foot and ripped away the snowshoe. He squirmed and heaved, trying to lift himself up.
He realized the bridge might continue to split under his weight when he felt more of the wood give way. The railings of the bridge were against his armpits and he tried to use them as leverage, pulling himself up and out of the water. The cold water had already worked on his boot and saturated through it. He could feel the wet sock as his foot throbbed from the cold. His dog was barking wildly. He completely ignored her until she entered the bridge and walked toward him, wagging her tail happily.
He tried to caution her back, afraid that her added weight would only make the situation worse, but she didn’t obey. He froze and waited as she came close, only to see her leap past him and off the bridge, barking wildly again, turning in circles before him. Angry, he yelled at her to leave him alone, he couldn’t move. She barked again and then left, heading into the brush they had come from. He hoped she stayed away for a minute so he could focus on untying the snowshoe, while balancing his weight off the back leg.
He was unsuccessful; his attempt to free his leg from the snowshoe had resulted in further damage to the brittle boards. He now dangled knee-deep in the freezing water. The current pulled at him with great force, and he began calling for help as he realized the strength in his hands would not hold out forever. It was in that moment of fear that he heard her bark again, his dog had returned. He tensed when he saw her; afraid she might enter the bridge again. He angrily yelled to command her back. It was then that he saw the startled face of the young girl behind the dog, followed shortly by her father.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I explored walking boldly, only to be caught by sudden uncertainty and fear.
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee
In Matthew 2:21-22 we read of Joseph boldly coming into the land of Israel, leaving Egypt perhaps again in the middle of the night with little preparation. He seems confident that all the blessings will now be reality, for he heads to Judea and not to Galilee where Mary was from. He might have intended to go to Bethlehem until he hears who is ruling the province, Archelaus, the son of Herod. The ‘they’ who sought to kill baby Jesus are dead, but is Archelaus a danger? Joseph is described as afraid to go any farther, he has reached the edge of knowing what to do or where to step.
A part of me says “Joseph, go on…be bold! Don’t hesitate. You had a clear message…why pause and fear Herod’s son?” Then we read that Joseph was right to worry, his fears were justified. God warns him, and he turns to Galilee. Joseph had a plan that seemed worthwhile, Jesus must return to the house of David, to Judea. It was worthy the king he was, but it was not to be. Jesus did not have a reception of a king when he was born; and he would have no great reception on his return to his own. Instead he goes to a humble place, Galilee.
In thinking about this verse, I recognized times where I had a lot of confidence. I think I know what will happen next, I think I am in control of my circumstances. At any moment, things could change and I like Joseph would be left wondering what to do as well. Any day a loved one could be sick or hurt. Today I honestly don’t know when I will see a paycheck because of circumstance I can’t control. This leads me to turn to the very source of life, the One I must rely upon and trust my everything to. When I have no control, He does.