“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftmanship (Psalm 19:1).”
After several minutes of trudging along the soft damp forest ground layered with twigs, pine nedles and fallen autumn colored leaves, I released the straps of my 50-pound ruck sack, and let it fall at my feet. Then, I plopped myself down against the trunk of a large tree, nearly pitch black in the dark of the night. The surrounding trees on this hilltop still whispered against the evening’s cool wind. The dew began to settle beneath the night sky.
Despite the low-50 degree, and dropping, temperature, I wiped the sweat from my brow after tilting my patrol soft-cap slightly upwards from my eyes. Sitting there was soothing and calm. I reached for my canteen and took a swig of iodine-laced water as droplets ran down my chin. I did not feel alone but I was, physically anyway. The silhouetted stick figures were just that, tree branches and limbs protruding from the ground, some of which were swaying back and forth. It was a rare tranquil moment for me.
Earlier in the day, I found the appropriate landmarks within the allotted time that was necessary to successfully complete the Special Forces Land Navigation course. I needed to find four points during the daylight hours, at a distance stretching several kilometers over woodland terrain. Not long after arriving back to the base camp, the golden rays of sunlight that arrayed its light through the cerulean blue sky to the verdant hues in variegated shades on the Carolinian floor, faded quickly to the graying dusk. The next task was to find two distinct landmarks at night, one of which led me to my current serenity.
The coal-colored sky provided a backdrop of light; light that sparkled like diamonds against clear endless space. The constellation struck me as pure, intangible, and idyllic. I felt like a part of the created cosmos, a small speck in the mass, twinkling, and infinite universe. The intake was calm and mysterious, something to take in depth and slowly; a moment to ponder.
I had a task on hand, however, and based on my calculations, time was slipping away. I was confident about being at the right location, a lone hill top surrounded by flatland, slopes, and draws. The trouble was that I circled this high point for too long without spotting the sharp metallic white-painted post that would give me the correct code number and the 8-digit grid coordinates to my next location. Without this information, I was a fish out of water and would not pass the Land Navigation course.
I quietly prayed, referring to the third chapter of Proverbs concerning trusting completely in God. The verses also said to acknowledge the creator in everything. This seemed like as good a time as any. After finishing with my prayer, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before. Amongst the curved and twisted protruding silhouetted branches and small trees, there in the midst was a small rigid limb without any bends, standing straight up towards the heavens. With my eyes fixated on this peculiar object, I slowly crawled over to find with much delight, the metal post with the key data I was looking for.
Once I obtained all the information I needed, I hefted the ruck sack over my back and adjusted the straps tightly. When I stood to look at the post, I could not see it because it blended into the black ground. It was only when I viewed my situation from an entirely different perspective (ground up) looking out into the starry sky, could I have seen the marker. I glanced one more time at the serene sky. Thank you, Lord! Then I scurried down the hill top towards my next destination.
“Mark the place where God has spoken (Genesis 35:14).”