A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way home from the mountains when we decided to do a little hiking. This was before we had a GPS or a smartphone, so my husband handed me the map and asked me to direct him toward a particular mountain. It went well for a while, until my husband decided to make a spontaneous right hand turn. My immediate response was to panic, just knowing that we were going to get lost. My husband continued making haphazard turns. Or so it seemed. To my amazement, we arrived at a state park.
At this park there were several hiking trails to choose from, so we went in the ranger station to ask for advice on a good trail. But the ranger and another rambler were talking for quite some time, and didn’t seem to notice that there were other people around. So we left the ranger station and randomly picked a trail close to where we parked. After we had been walking for a while, we passed a man who was descending the mountain. In his usual friendly nature, my husband briefly spoke to the man, and then we continued on our way. When we got to the top of the mountain, we were rewarded with an extraordinary view. But we didn’t stay on the mountaintop long, for we felt an unexplainable urgency to leave.
As we traveled back down the trail, we met up with the same man again. This time he was lying on a bench, so we stopped to ask him if he was ok. We were shocked when he said that he had climbed the mountain to end his life. My husband and I glanced at each other for a moment, trying to think of the right words to say to this hurting man.
We tried to tell him that his friends and family wouldn’t want to see him go. But he said that he didn’t have any loved ones. So we then told the man that God wouldn’t want him to end his life. Sadly, the man said that he didn’t believe in God. So we tried to explain that God wanted to be there for him in his time of trouble, if he would allow it. And we also said that we felt God brought us to him in that moment.
The man seemed to listen to what we said, and we prayed that our words were absorbed. Finally, we parted ways as the man remained on the bench. We walked at a normal pace for a bit. Then when we were out of range, we ran to the ranger station and told them what happened. They thanked us for letting them know, and they immediately made their way up the trail to the lonely man.
If we learn to live with our arms open wide, God will take our hand and guide our steps. And we will discover that His plan was so much greater than ours. I now thank God for being our pilot that day. Numerous things did not go according to our plan. If we did not decide to go hiking, if my husband did not make a random turn, if we did not choose the trail that we did, and if we had tarried on the mountaintop, we would not have had the opportunity to help this man. I pray that our words made an impact and that this man allowed God to help heal his broken heart. Often times in life, we get discouraged when things don’t go how we think that they should. But if we trust God to be our pilot, He will lead us to the right place at the right time.