Beautiful fall day during hunting season so I’m out running a trail in the Bighorn Mountains with an orange jacket on, orange buff on my head, my running pants with orange stripes and was just happily following this wonderful trail from Spring Marsh down to the Narrows where I was going to turn around and run back uphill. Well, at least I thought that was what I was doing. Instead I ended up on top of a mountain that I had never been to the top of before, and that I didn’t recognize, and my trail I had followed just sort of petered out into nothingness. I broke out my compass and tried to remember which direction I was supposed to be running and realized that not only was I not running northeast that somehow I had gotten turned around and was running due north. Where in the world was I? I was already at about 6 miles so knew I should have been to the Narrows by then and somewhat remembered seeing Leaky Mountain off to my left or north at some point on the trail. Suddenly I remembered where there were a bunch of fallen trees across the trail and taking the trail to the left probably about 3 miles before and I began wondering if I should try to find my way back even though now I couldn’t even really find the trail I had run on. I decided to hoof it up a bit further so I could get to the top of the treeline hoping maybe I would spot a landmark or something that would help me find the best way back to my car, knowing that I was severely off the path and was going to do a ton more mileage than I had planned. I wasn’t particularly worried but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was lost, hopelessly lost and I needed to get found really quickly or it was going to be a long day. Just as I topped out of the tree line I heard the most joyous sound I thought I could ever hear, a series of gun shots rang out, and even better because I was up so high I could tell where the shots came from. Remember the beginning part of being all dressed in orange because it was elk hunting season? I pulled my whistle out and started blowing as I ran down a sort of game trail down the hill and when I got to the bottom, all dressed in my beautiful orange, I saw the most awesome sight I could see right then. Three hunters all decked out in their camouflage, high fiving and getting ready to jump on their horses and head deeper into the woods to where their elk had fallen. Of course now they are really looking at me strange but I confidently and boldly strode up to them and said “I am unbelievably lost now. Could you guys tell me how to get back to Spring Marsh from here?” As they shared a laugh and joked about stupid runners getting lost they pulled out a map and showed me where I was and where I needed to get to. They also pointed out the best paths to get where I needed to go and pointed out the forest road that would be the best point of where I was going. They even offered to give me a ride on the back of one of their horses after they got done getting their kills sorted out. I told them I would be cool and one of the guys handed me his map and told me to put it under the wiper blade of a blue Dodge pickup when I got back and we separated ways and I proceeded to run the 12 miles back to my car.
I truly have a penchant for getting lost, always have and probably always will. I used to panic when I got lost and start to get really freaked out as soon as I realized I was going the wrong way. However, something truly remarkable happened along the way as I began to put perspective into different ways to handle my reactions and some of the bad habits that weren’t allowing me to enjoy life as much as possible. I examined why I freaked out so much when I got lost and decided that I didn’t trust that I could get found and I had a permanent sense of lost somewhere deep inside my heart. Jeremiah described this another way “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their resting place.” Jeremiah 50:6 Being lost isn’t permanent, forgetting your resting place just might be. If you have a sense of always being lost, it’s probably about time to get found. The only way to get found is to remember where your resting place is. I love prophecy simply because prophecy doesn’t fit into our neat little boxes that we tend to try to throw stuff into. It’s just as easy to look at that verse above and blame being lost on the shepherd as it is blaming me being lost in the woods on my poor sense of direction. It’s an obvious leap of faith but notice that the “they” referred to isn’t the shepherds but the sheep. And it isn’t the wandering that Jeremiah is pointing out, it is the forgetfulness of where the resting place is. When you forget where your resting place is located, you go through life anxious and afraid of everything around you. There is no peace and there is no sense of direction or stability in your life. Your resting place is that center of peace, the place where you know it’s just a matter of being aware of who you are and what you were created to do and then determining to find that place again. Your resting place is your sure place, an inner peace that transcends any sense of being miss-placed or lost. Finding this place is going to cause you to have to reach back into your bag of stones, the things of your past and to find the stone that best represents why you are feeling lost. Then you are going to have to apply truth to being lost and get yourself found. This means you are going to have to find the place of peace that got lost and has been lost for a really long time maybe even. You are going to have to not get lost on purpose but you are going to have to get lost while out adventuring so you can get found because in this getting lost to your self and your own ambitions and plans for your life (just like I get lost sometimes on the trails I am running) this situation is going to cause you to not panic and over analyze and spin headlong into a bad habit that won’t do a thing to help you get found. You’re going to have to find a place of peace, a place that is higher than where you presently are so you can look around for some landmarks and maybe if you’re lucky and time it just right hear a volley of shots that signal you to the fact that somebody with a map may be really close at hand and that even if they joke you some they are going to set you on a path back to your resting place.
Living an ultra life means you are going to have to acknowledge that sometimes you are lost and then drop the stone of being uncomfortable by the side of the trail and get back to your resting place, that place of peace.