A Hike Gone Wrong

Couratallam in South India is one place I loved visiting as a child. The town is very popular for its many water falls. Our family has visited this place several time. One such time, more than 40 of us, all closely related family members, made an epic trip to Courtallam. It was epic for various reason but the highlight of our trip was a hike gone wrong. Having visited many of the popular waterfalls in the area several times, we decided we should do something new. We got exclusive passes to a VIP only waterfalls called Palathotta Aruvi. It was a long hike through a dense forest to the hilltop. Thankfully there was a paved road to help us get the there. The lone security guard at the foothills sent us with a warning to return before sunset to avoid encountering wild elephants on the road as they take evening stroll to find food and water. We saw elephant foot prints on our way to the falls. The waterfalls was a hidden beauty inside the dence forest. Water was crystal clear. The aroma of herbs mixed with fresh water scented the whole place. There was a small pool of water just the right size for kids and two short but powerful waterfalls to cool us down. We had such fun that we lost track of time. By the time we started our hike down, it was almost sunset and few minutes into the hike, we lost all sunlight and it was pitch dark. It was so dark that I couldn’t see the person standing next to me or even my own hands. The dense tree cover hid any light that came from the stars. The only light that we saw was that of few random fireflies flying near the tree tops. None of us had a flashlight and so we had no clue where we were headed to. The hill was so steep and one wrong move could take us all downhill. One of my uncles found a long branch and used it to tap on the ground before him to lead us to safety. However, at one point, he almost lead us straight to the edge of the hill. One more step, we would have all fell down, one after the other. It was like a blind leading the blind. We remembered the warning that our security guard gave earlier that evening. We could encounter wild elephants! We could take a fatal fall down the hill! There were little babies in our midst. We were terrified! And in the darker than the darkest night, in the distance, we saw the dull glow of a torch light slowly moving towards our group. A huge sigh of relief, loud sounds of praises to God for saving us. Our security guard realizing we were probably grappling in the dark, took a hike to ensure we were okay. Thanks to his compassion, we were safe at last!

There’s something amazing about light in absolute darkness. It has the power to drive away fear and give hope and life.

Jesus knew what He meant when He said

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

He is the life giving source of light in our darkest moments. He, like our security guard, did not wait for us to grapple around in darkness. Instead, He came into our darkness to lead us out into the life giving light. Are we struggling to find our way in this dark world? We don’t have to look any further, for the light has come into the world to give us hope and life!

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2