As I’ve mentioned before, I take morning walks. I’ve done this for years, almost always alone – or without human company. I often use the time to pray, or to consider what I’ll be working on during the day. In the past few months I’ve had a couple of interesting experiences that gave me pause, and I thought I would share them with you.
In the spring, before we had finished moving back to Arizona, we were visiting and I went for a walk on a road where I used to walk. The dirt road follows the river near us and isn’t used much. Once in a great while I would see someone, usually hunters driving off to the hills to look for game.
The early morning was beautiful and the heat of the day hadn’t begun. So far, I hadn’t seen any wildlife. I was alone with my thoughts and perfectly content. Until, I heard a vehicle approaching.
Under normal circumstances, I would move to the side of the road and wait for them to pass. Because of the trees and undergrowth and the twists in the road, I couldn’t see the car yet, but could hear them coming. My heart began to pound. I broke out in a sweat. I had the overwhelming urge to hide. On the side of the road away from the river I noted a small trail. I raced up the path, around some dense brush and crouched down before the vehicle was within sight.
I held my breath as they drew closer. By this time, I was shaking and breathing as hard as if I’d run a long distance. The engine didn’t change as the car drew even with my hiding place. They weren’t moving fast but were going at a steady pace. I prayed so hard, unsure why I was so terrified. I am not easily scared and this made no sense to me. I’d seen people driving this road before and never felt the need to hide.
I didn’t leave my spot until the noise of the engine faded in the distance. Then I came out cautiously and hurried home, the fear receding as soon as the vehicle passed. I hadn’t seen the car or truck and had no idea of the make or color, or who might be driving. I filed away that odd incidence not sure what had happened and soon forgot the whole thing.
Two weeks ago, I was out hiking in the hills where I go now. I walk there every day and almost never see a person – and certainly never a vehicle. The terrain is very rough. Only a four-wheel-drive would be able traverse most of the road, some would be tough even for a four-wheel-drive. There hadn’t been any tire tracks since I’d started walking there so I knew it wasn’t.
At a point where I was about three miles from home, which means three miles from civilization, the sight of an oncoming vehicle surprised me. I stepped to the side of the road on the driver’s side of the vehicle and waited for them to pass. The driver stopped beside me and rolled down his window. The kids in the back rolled down their windows too. We chatted a few minutes and they offered me water, which I declined. They went on their way, and I continued on toward home.
On the walk home, I remembered that time months ago on the river road and the choking fear that came over me. This time there hadn’t been a hint of fear. None. Instead, I’d enjoyed the unexpected interaction and seeing the excitement on the children’s faces as they were headed off on an adventure.
Since then, I’ve spent time pondering the difference in these two experiences. I can’t shake the feeling that if I hadn’t listened to the inner nudge on the day I felt the fear, something horrible would have happened. I may never know the truth, but I do know something was off that day.
In the book of Acts, (13:4 and 16:7) the disciples are both sent out by the Holy Spirit and forbidden to go places by the guidance of the Spirit. I believe the Holy Spirit is instrumental in watching over me. Jesus sent Him as a comforter and to help us. I want to always be receptive to what He is saying to me. Sometimes, listening to the inner voice as the Holy Spirit speaks can be lifesaving. I am grateful for the fear that made me hide and that He is with me every step of the way.