When I was a lad growing up in the Ozarks, I remember on a couple of occasions getting to go to Silver Dollar City with my Mom, brothers, Aunt Nadine and cousin Mark. My most vivid memories were of first going into Marvel Cave and being frightened by the darkness, the dripping water, and the thought of a bat biting me in the neck. I remember crying because my legs hurt from all the walking. But then after we exited the cave me thinking how cool that was! I think I was about four years old.
My second and more vivid memory was the old Tree House. I remember hearing the music in the background as we made our way up the stairs and through the maze. I held tight to my Mom's hand as we walked. We traveled through a few narrow passages when suddenly a large room appeared cast in pitch blackness except for brightly colored lights in rows. I remember feeling both terrified and curious, thinking I was suddenly launched into some strange space vortex.
Someone bumped into me, and my hand became separated from my Mom's. I cried out to her and quickly a hand grasped mine. Such incredible peace and comfort filled me. I was safe. We made our way across the odd mixture of darkness and color, further confused by screams, laughter and music from outside. I finally saw the outside light of the exit from the tree house. As we made our way out the first person I saw was...
Confusion filled my eyes and hand. How could Mom be there ahead of me and also holding my hand? Mom and Aunt Nadine were both laughing. I slowly looked up to the kind face of an elderly lady I had never seen before. "I gotcha Dear," she kindly said.
Over the years, I have had numerous moments like that tree house scene. Moments where I became lost and confused in a period of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. I have let go of the hand of reason and direction, and grasped instead whatever reason or logic was close by. During these periods of time where life was dark and yet colored by competing voices, I have fought panic and fear like I did that warm, summer day at the Silver Dollar City tree house.
I also remember that the light to new hope and direction is always ahead. I just need to keep moving forward, holding tight to the hand of the Good Shepherd, who does, indeed, have me. With Him, I need not ever fear.
He knows the way out of each tree house.