A week ago, my youngest grandson and I did a long hike at Circle B Bar Reserve on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock. He wanted to walk Marsh Rabbit Run and was very disappointed to realize it was closed at this time of the year—due to adult alligators protecting babies. Connor decided we would walk Alligator Alley Trail instead. I hated to disappoint him. But I told him I wasn’t too keen on it. I think it is listed as about a mile long. With the ninety-degree temperature, I knew it’d be a very warm hike, and I worried about alligators. Alligators don’t read! And a huge mama gator might decide to raise babies somewhere besides Marsh Rabbit Run! But Alligator Alley Trail was open to the public. So I gave in to his insistence and pretended to believe what he said—that he could outrun and beat up any alligator that came along. Never mind that I knew I couldn’t outrun the reptile!
We ended up walking very fast … actually I think it’s called trotting! That’s because more than halfway down the trail a big gator scared some people coming toward us. Water and mossy trees were on both sides of the narrow trail. The gator had hidden in tall bushes along the bank. It plunged sideways into the water—kaploosh!—when those people paused to take pictures of sweet baby gators! They shrieked and ran in our direction, not caring that they almost knocked eachother into the water. We didn’t stop … determination ruled. We ducked, scooted past the crazy camera people, and flew along the trail, rather than turn back.
My grandson muttered and panted under his breath as he jogged at my side. “I made a bad choice. Memaw, I should’ve listened to you. I just WANT to get back to the parking lot! Oh, God, please help us!” I’ll admit that I had to smile in satisfaction at his heartfelt confession.
When the trail curved away from the lake and continued under oaks and other foliage, we slowed down and talked about how worried we had felt. At that point, I spotted a turkey hen. We paused in the sandy trail to watch. She cautiously stepped out of the scrub, heading directly for us with two half-grown offspring. She came within five feet of us, edging closer as we stood shock still. She kept tipping her head sideways, peering up at the mossy oaks and dazzling blue sky.
I murmured to Connor, “She’s watching the sky for danger. And I bet she knows it’s safer being near us. She only has two babies with her. She’s lost some to predators.” The loud call of an osprey came from the lakeshore, and the voice of a red-shouldered hawk sounded from the woodsy area in front of us.
The hen crossed the dirt path we stood on and entered the tall grasses on the other side. Her youngsters followed, blending with the grass. But within moments, the nearby call of a hawk made the hen hurry back toward us. How did she know we might represent safety? Once she and children were hidden, we moved on—longing for a tall, cold drink. It was a wonderful end to a hurried hike through uneasy territory.
Sometimes in life, we wander off where we really shouldn’t be. Even though we watch things around us and tense our bodies for flight—we aren’t always safe. God created us with the ability to sense danger—much like the mama turkey knew a threat sat high in a tree over their heads.
If we tune in to God’s voice, love, and strength, we can recognize the perils and sins of life and hurry back to the shelter he provides. Life within the circle of his presence is better. He spreads his protective wings over us and calms the quaking of our soul.
We can move back under the safe haven of his word and love. We can call our children and grandchildren to follow us, teaching them that the Lord loves us—wants to provide for their needs. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 KJV
Can you remember a time when you were in trouble and God provided a refuge? Why do people run from God instead of fleeing toward him? Please scroll down and leave your comments. They are very important to me and others who read this blog.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2013
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