My Hiking Trip with God to Signal Point
Story of the Search and Rescue of Lost Hiker on Signal Mountain
Sunday morning March 18th I woke up filled with joy and hope in the Lord. I had received so many breakthroughs to prayer over the past few weeks and I had been hearing His voice so clearly. I felt so full of gratitude and confidence.
At some point, in talking with the Lord in the morning He tells me he wants me to sit on the front row at church this morning. I don’t like being noticed so this is uncomfortable for me. He told me He is going to start asking me to do some things that are uncomfortable but He will lead me by the hand and slowly grow me. He is stretching me to get out of my comfort zone and live freely for Him.
I get to church 2 minutes late and they are in the first song. (I am Free). I scan for a seat on my side of the building and I see none. But He told me He would have a seat for me and I would not have to take anyone’s seat. I see that on the other side there are some seats. So, I uncomfortably walk through the audience while the song is playing: “I am free to run. I am free to dance. I am free to live for you.”
I walk up to two open seats but one says reserved. So, I hesitate and stand in the seat behind the front row. I feel completely out of place. I am practically in the front row. The song is blaring, “I am free to dance, O, I am free”. I know the Lord wants me on the front row worshiping. But I can’t even worship in the second row.
And He says to me, “I said the front row.” I say, “Ok Lord” and uneasily move to the seat in front of me, with what felt like everyone watching me. In reality no one probably noticed except the guy behind me. But thank the Lord He takes me by the hand and helps me.
I leave church full! The day is beautiful and its warmth is so inviting. I feel the love of Jesus come over me as I feel the warmth of the sun and I worship Him. I get home and say, “Holy Spirit, What are we going to do today? We have the whole day together and it is beautiful outside. Want to get outside today?”
A little bit later He says to me, “Let’s go to the mountain.” I say, “That sounds awesome! I am excited. Which mountain?” He says, “I will show you.” So, I move on to eat and get ready.
An Unfathomable Promise
I decide to cook some brussels sprouts for lunch. I had an almost full bottle of olive oil on the counter. So, I start to pour a little on them. And He says to me, “You can use as much olive oil as you want.”
I know exactly what He means. Oil represents the Holy Spirit. And He was telling me there is no limit to how much Holy Spirit we can have. We are covered in the righteousness of Jesus. As He is so, are we in this world. Jesus had the Spirit without measure. And we are in Him, perfect before the Father. In the old testament Elisha got a double measure. And John the Baptist was the greatest prophet. But the least of the saints is greater than these in Christ Jesus. Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon Him without measure. Because of Jesus this promise is also for us.
So of course, I pour out the entire bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over my sprouts as a symbolic gesture of His promise to us. Yes, they were a little soggy. But I was full of the Spirit.
So full that I had to worship. I just love the song 24/7 by Steve Swanson and lately have been worshiping the Lord on My face shoes off to this song. The Lord gives me a picture of me before His throne where I cast my crown before the feet of Jesus and kiss His feet with tears running down my face. Then I worship My God face down in front of all of heaven. What a privilege to honor my King face down before His throne. Because I do that here, I will one day get to do it there in front of all of heaven. And if anyone who wants to worship Him this way here on earth will get the same privilege to join me.
So, I get on my face before the Lord to worship. I take off my shoes and I give Him praise as the music vibrates through my entire being. As I worship the Lord, He brings me a picture of a cliff overlooking Chattanooga. It is on Signal Mountain and I know it because I have hiked up there before. He says, “That is where we are going.” I continue to worship, Holy Holy Holy! Then He says, “I want you to play this song and worship Me on behalf of all of Chattanooga just as you are doing here. I will accept your worship for all of Chattanooga. Then I want you to ask that I will pour out My Spirit upon Chattanooga without measure. I will show you what you are to pray. Will you do it?”
Of course, I will. I think this is wild. So I start to pack up and throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He then says, “Bring a jacket and play that song out loud.” Since He said bring a jacket, I change from shorts to my hiking pants. I get my bag and two bottles of water and a few power bars and toss in my Bluetooth loud speaker. The hike is only about 5 miles or so round trip.
On my way I ask if He wants me to worship or listen to the word. He says, “Your heart wants to worship. Worship Me.” So, I am jamming and singing to the Lord. Then before I reach the bottom of the mountain, He says, “Why don’t you take the W road up the mountain.” I say, “I don’t know how to get there that way. Can we not just go the way I know?” He says, “Can you trust me to get you there going a different way?”
I say, “Sure. But is this You, or I am I just being silly.” He says, “Just take the W road.”
So, I take the W road. I get to the top and the road leads me along the mountain ridge overlooking Chattanooga. It is beautiful and I have never traveled that road before. As I drive along the ridge, He says, “Maybe, I just wanted to let you see what you are about to pray over.” I say thank you, “Lord it’s beautiful.” I am worshiping still and my music is loud. Then He says, “And maybe, I also wanted you to worship me along this ridge.” I think, cool. So, I roll the windows and turn up the music and just praise the Lord along that beautiful drive.
Then I get to the end and I am lost. I ask the Lord to get me to the hiking point. I realize I am now going in circles. Finally, I stop and realize I am not going to get there by divine guidance. I just put it in the GPS and I am only like 5 mins away. Then He says, “GPS is a miracle too, son. I gave man GPS. Receive it as a miracle and be thankful.” I ponder this and thank Him.
I arrive at the hiking point and the place is packed. Duh, it’s a beautiful day on a weekend. The parking lot is full and cars are lined up the road. Everyone is hiking up to that rock “Signal Point” for the view. I probably would not have come had I thought this through. I say, “Lord, how in the world am I going to do this? I can’t do this in front of a bunch of people.”
He says, “I will open up a window. Go on.” As I go, He says, “Would you not worship me face down in front of others?” I say, “Yes, Lord but you got to help me with that one. Will you take me by the hand and free me from the fear of man?”
So now this thought is lingering with me. What if I have an audience out here. Would I do it? The Lord continues to tell me, “I will open a window and I don’t have to do this in front of others today.” I breathe a sigh of relief and continue my hike. I am still worshiping the Lord with music blasting in my headphones.
I feel like a man with purpose. I feel driven as I walk and worship. It’s like the Spirit is carrying me. I hear the Father, “Say slow down, son, you don’t have to go so fast.” I say, “But your Spirit is driving me.” He says, “Yes, He is.” Then about a mile in, I start to sing with a song. And He says, “Sing to Me. I love when you sing to Me.” So, I sing, stopping occasionally when I pass people so as not to be a complete weirdo.
I get to the spot and its covered with people. I see the view and its incredible. The day is gorgeous and I see a bird flying like an eagle out on the winds. I think of the verse that says, “I will mount up on wings like an eagle.” I also think of an eagle as representing the Spirit of God. And how this eagle rescued me once. I say, Lord I am here, now what? Is this the spot? He says, “I will open a window, keep going.”
To The End
I am confused at this point. I am asking the Lord if there is another rock overlooking Chattanooga or what? He says again, “Keep going I will open a window.” Then He says, “Go to the end of the trail.”
I am like, “What? That is 7.5 miles in, Lord. I can’t hike that far and make it back. Is there a rock there? I see a road at the end of the trail. Lord, if I hike down there I am not making it back. My knees won’t make it. I have had torn ACLs and 6 knee surgeries. It will be dark and I risk falling off a rock face or hurting myself. My cell phone battery won’t make it. I have a GPS but my cell flash light will drain the battery. There is no way I am getting back. I could die out here.”
He says, “Do you trust Me?”
I say, “Yes, Lord. But you are going to have to do a miracle to get me back off this mountain.” So, I continue. With each step wondering if there is another overlook hidden somewhere. As I continue I am no longer around people. It’s me, the Lord and the woods. I am now singing loudly and have a blast worshiping My King. I start to pray too out loud. I pray the lyrics in the songs. I pray whatever comes to mind.
“God, may your glory descend on this mountain. May Your Presence fill this place and the valley of Chattanooga. May Your Spirit transform lives. May you inhabit this mountain and the ideas and thoughts of the people Chattanooga that this mountain represents. No longer does this mountain belong to the enemy. It belongs to you. I rebuke the spiritual forces of darkness that empower the wrong thinking of some people in Chattanooga. And the spiritual powers that blind people’s minds to the truth. Lord, may Your enemies be scattered and Your Presence move back into this place. May Your glory rest on this mountain and the mountains of thoughts in Chattanooga. May your Presence settle in the valley. This mountain is now yours. It no longer belongs to the enemy, for the Spirit of the Lord is here. This will be Your mountain and You will now inhabit the thoughts and ideas of the people of Chattanooga. And they will see new options and new thoughts. I remove the spiritual forces of darkness that have been inhabiting the thoughts of the people of Chattanooga. They are now free to flood to the Mountain of the Lord, representing His thoughts and ideas, His precepts, His ways, which will lead to great blessing upon the people of Chattanooga. And send 15,000 angels with fiery swords to surround this mountain to scatter your enemies and welcome Your Presence. Then once your glory settles may those angels surround the city of Chattanooga and protect it. Then place more angels with horses and chariots of fire all around this mountain.”
I am praying all kinds of stuff. “May every creature on this mountain worship you.” I don’t know where it is coming from. But I am singing and praying out loud, claiming the mountain for the Lord like I was Caleb or something. It was exhilarating.
Then I think about my trip back as my knees are starting to hurt. I think of all the ways I could trip and fall and twist my knee or fall off a cliff. I start to pray Psalm 91:11-12. “He will give his angels charge over me to protect me in all my ways. May 3 angels surround me at all times so I do not strike my foot against a stone. Because my heart is set on You. May these 3 angels keep me from stumbling or falling off a cliff or hurting my knees.”
I also question the Lord a few more times. To the end of the trail? Or I am I going crazy? I could die out here. There is no way I am getting back without a miracle. You know this right? I don’t want to overstep here. I hear you but you know I mess up sometimes. I know you got me.
He says, “I want you to go all the way to the road. Then I will show you what to do.”
I say, ok Lord. We are going all the way! I think maybe, He will have me call an uber at the road or something. But then I am like no, He wants me to play this song and worship Him on the rock over Chattanooga. Is there another rock out here?
I continue on and the Lord continues to encourage me to sing. I say, “Lord do you want me to play the music out loud with my speaker and sing along with it instead of in my headphones?”
He says, “No, the only song I want you to play out loud is the one I told you to play. I want to hear your voice out here.”
I found this funny. I don’t even like hearing my own voice. I am tone deaf and I sound terrible. I love to sing but the music needs to be loud so I can’t hear myself. But I guess the Lord loves my joyful noise.
Then He says, “On the way back I want you to listen to your recorded memory verses and let my words wash over you.”
I know He has been using the verses in my mind so much. He has been allowing me to experience them. Moving them from my mind to my heart. A verse too long in the mind can become religion but a verse experienced is moved to the heart. This is what He wants us to have for each one of His promises. He is an experiential God. He wants us to experience Him and His freshly spoken words to us. When He speaks, His words are planted in our hearts. Then He will allow us to experience His words of promise making them to come alive in our hearts.
I love His word! All His promises are for me. I claim them all and pray into as many as He lays on my heart. Over and over He allows me to experience them.
My knees begin to hurt more and I pray for healing. My left knees begins to shoot pain up the outside if I bend it. I pray for the Spirit to heal me or strengthen me. For Him to send a healing angel to touch me. I tell the pain to leave in Jesus name. No healing comes and I am also starting to cramp a little as well in my feet and hips. But I continue to sing and pray. I feel full of His joy!
Finally, I get to the bottom and set my feet on the road. I sit down to pray and take a break and I say, “What now Lord? Did I get this right? Did you really want me to hike these 7.5 miles to the bottom? I see a rock face off to the right in the valley. Want me to sing to You there?”
Back to the Rock
He says, “No son. You have done exactly what I wanted you to do. Now let’s go back. I have opened up a window for you.”
I am like no, kidding God. No one is going to be crazy enough to be out here by the time I get back to the rock. You definetly opened a window for me. I did not speak sarcastically but jokingly with the Lord. We laughed a little together.
So, we start the hike back and I start to listen through my recorded verses. I ask for the Lord to just heal my knees now. You made me a promise a while back that, you would heal them on the mountain. We are on a mountain. Will you heal them now?
He tells me, “Listen to your verses. I want them to wash over you. Receive each one as My voice to you. Stop talking and just listen to My word.”
Yes, Lord I say, “Thank you for your word. I receive them all.”
His word is precious to me. Especially, the verses I have saved. I have about 300-400 in my scripture memory app. It’s hard to maintain memorization but I have them recorded. He has told me to continue to add to it and just record them. All I must do is listen to them and have them in my mind His Spirit will use them when He needs them. I don’t have to know them perfectly. I can rest in Him.
It’s getting dark now. And I am hurting. I pray a little. Please strengthen me, Lord.
He says, “I am going to get you to the rock and then off this mountain tonight. I will strengthen you. I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”
I finish all my verses. I have to listen to Psalm 91 three times. It’s so precious to me. Then I start all the verses again. But this time I want to pray them. So, I pray them out loud receiving each promise as mine.
I am in pain. It’s completely dark. I think about the cliffs and the rocks. I am trying to conserve my cell phone battery so I don’t use the light much. I have it on airplane mode but I am using a GPS recording of my path via my All Trails app. I am following my track back. I can see the path ok with the moonlight. So, I don’t have to use my light too often. However, I am moving slow. So, it’s taking me a lot longer to get back. I also have to stop a lot to take breaks.
But He keep saying, “I will strengthen you.” He says, “You know that it is not by human strength. It is by My Spirit. I will strengthen you through My Spirit. Not by might but by my Spirit.”
I say ok, God. Give me the Spirit of Samson right now. Give me super human strength to make it back. But I don’t feel any super human strength coming. I keep stopping to rest but each time I ask for strength from the Spirit of God. I get a little bit of strength each time and keep going.
I get to Psalm 91 again. And I am praying all the verses out loud but these verses come alive to me:
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.
They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.
Because he has his heart set on me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name.
When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.
I will satisfy him with a long life and show him my salvation.”
It is like I am experiencing them. Oh, yes, I am! I am not falling. I am not twisting my knee. Not once has my knee with the torn ACL given way. I have barely stumbled. Somehow, I can see the path and I never come close to a rock face or cliff. I will not die out here. He will rescue me and satisfy me with long life. I am walking in complete darkness now.
It is dark out here and I am all alone but I have no fear. It’s me and Jesus. Me and the Spirit of God carrying me. His angels will bare me up lest I dash my foot against a stone. His word is alive to me! I am a crazy man but this is awesome.
I get to Psalm 139 and these words come alive in the darkness:
“You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
I declare, “The Spirit of the Lord is with me in this dark forest. The darkness is all around me but I do not feel it. If I say surely the darkness will overwhelm me or the light around me will be night, You will take me by the hand and lead me. Darkness and Light are alike to You, O God. You have encircled me and laid your hand upon me. Where can I go from your Spirit or where can I flee from your Presence? All my days were written in your book before I was formed in my mother’s womb. How precious are your thoughts toward me O, God!”
It is a surreal moment with the Lord. It feels amazing and I am loving every minute with the exception of the increasing pain in my knees and cramping in my feet and hips. I can also feel blisters growing on my feet.
I continue to stop and take breaks. When are we getting to the rock, Lord? I can’t keep going. This is crazy. I am just a crazy man. But I am crazy in love with you. I don’t care if I die as long as I die this way.
He says, “Get up, son. I will strengthen you. I brought you out here for a purpose and you will complete what we started. My Spirit has strengthened you to go on. Break when you need it and ask me for more strength.”
There are briars everywhere. But rarely are they hitting my face. I take notice of this. I can’t see anything but I seem to catch each one right before it hits my face or eyes. My hiking pants also seem to deflect the briars extremely well.
The air is still warm but I can feel it cooling down and I am so so thankful I have that jacket. I know I am going to need it. Probably after the rock, I think. I will put it on then. Right now, I am warm because I am moving. Thank you, Lord for having me bring a jacket. I had no idea we were going to be out here this long. I am so glad I heard you say that. And so glad I put these hiking pants on. My goodness! You knew and prepared me with just what I needed.
However, I kept running out of strength. I don’t hike or exercise much so this hike is like a marathon for me and my bad knees. I walk in silence for a while and take in all the sounds of the forest. I feel little to no fear. But the random thoughts of being eaten by a bear or encountering a serial killer and other dumb stuff hit my mind. For a flash these stupid thoughts send chills down my spine. But I laugh them off and remember the Lord is with me. He will uphold me with His righteous right hand. This is really pretty fun. It would be stupid to give into thoughts inspired by the enemy.
I am approaching my rock. I can see it in the GPS. I begin to think about Moses on the mountain with the Lord. What if the Lord does something wild like that with me. What if I get to see the glory of the Lord descend. Haha, that would be amazing. I pray, “May, your glory descend on this mountain O, God! Show me your glory! Show me your glory God.”
I stop again. I need more strength. I pray and decide maybe some music will inspire me. I don’t know if it helped. I tried to sing and then pray out loud. Then I tried to praying out loud in the Spirit but I didn’t have the strength anymore.
Then I almost trip over a stick in the middle of the path. I think, oh a walking stick. I keep going.
The Lord says, “Do you want to use it?”
I say I don’t know. Do You want me to pick it up?
He says, “If you want to.”
I think of my dream about the big staff I had. Why not? I will pick it up. The stick is big but I use it to walk. I am not sure if its helping a ton but I carry it. This whole adventure is crazy as it is. Why not add a staff to the mix? Maybe, God will turn it into a snake or something wild. I laugh about that a little and carry on. I decide I am leaving the staff at the rock unless God does something crazy with it.
The Prayer at the Rock
Finally, I get there! I lay down my walking stick on the rock. I am hurting terribly. I rest for a minute. I guess it’s getting close to midnight now. The view is incredible and my eyes look down into the valley below and follow along the Tennessee river which leads straight into Chattanooga. The night sky is clear and I can see the Chattanooga city lights illuminating the darkness. The air is cool and I welcomed the break.
My feet are killing me, so I begin by taking my shoes off my now cramping feet. Then I sheepishly look around to make sure no other crazy person might be out here with me. The cool air and relief from not wearing boots feels amazing. I am also extremely thirsty. So, I try to squeeze a few drops from my empty water bottles that I finished about 2 hours before. I am half way hoping and praying the Lord refilled one of those bottles for me.
I hear him whisper, “Take your time and enjoy the moment.” But I feel a little exposed and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the view is gorgeous and atmosphere is electric with the Presence of the Lord.
After a few minutes I turn on my Bluetooth speaker and line up my song. Again, I look around for someone that might be secretly watching me. Then my mind travels to what God might do after I worship Him. Will I see His glory with my physical eyes? Will I sense his Presence descend? Will the ground shake? Will he split open the rock and give me some water to drink like he did for Samson? Will He heal my knees on this mountain? Or will I see nothing at all? It doesn’t matter to me. He is with me and I know it!
I put my face to the ground and feel the cold rock pressed against my face. I turn on my song so that I might worship my God with all my heart, mind and soul. So that I might worship Him on behalf of my city. So that I might give Him the praise, glory and honor He deserves. He is worthy. He is Holy. And I love Him so much. I wish I had the sound system I have in my home here right now. I could shake this rock and feel the vibration of the music.
I press play and the artist begins to talk before the song.
“Today we ask for the nations as our inheritance.”
This is a promise to Jesus from Psalm 2:8 and a promise the Lord has also made to those who are in Christ. I don’t even know exactly what it means but I receive it and believe what He speaks over and over again to my spirit.
My spirit sees myself before the throne of God setting my crown before the feet of Jesus because I did not deserve the crown. It’s all because of what He did through me. It’s all for Him. Anything right I have done was Him and it is my joy to be a vessel. The crowns all belong to Him. All I want is His friendship and the privilege of playing a part in what He is doing. I kiss His feet and gladly offer Him my worship.
I sing to Him, “Today I step into the realm of eternity to worship at your throne. There is a place where the song never stops going on 24/7. My heart will also worship you 24/7, Lord. I worship you Lord in all I do. My heart will always sing to you, My King, 24/7.
There is a place where elders bow on their knees and cast their crowns before the King 24/7. I join the elders today, Lord. I gladly lay my crown before you. I pray I will have many to lay before you. Day and Night I will worship at your throne O, Lord. My heart will always worship at your throne. For you are worthy.”
“Father, I pray for the City of Chattanooga. I lift up my worship on behalf of my entire city. I worship you for all of Chattanooga, tonight. May the praises of my city rise to you 24/7. For you are worthy. Receive our worship today.”
“Father, pour out your Holy Spirit upon our city. Oh, how we need your Presence. May your glory descend upon this mountain and inhabit this place. Come Holy Spirit come. May your glory come down. Holy Spirit may your Presence rest over the city of Chattanooga. May your Presence remain over Chattanooga. May your enemies be scattered as your Presence comes down. May they tremble in fear as you enter. May the people of Chattanooga be set free from demonic ideas. The spirits of the air no longer control this city. Now move the 15,000 waring angels with flaming swords around this mountain to the valley and surround the city of Chattanooga with them. Leave the horses and chariots of fire around this mountain as your glory descends. May your Spirit be poured out over Chattanooga and Your thoughts begin to reign in the hearts and minds of the people in My city. May there be freedom in Chattanooga. May you release all the angels on assignment waiting for the prayers of saints that have not been spoken. Lord, I don’t even know if I have the authority to do that or much of the things I am asking. But I ask in Jesus name. Release them.”
“I ask for all the saints in Chattanooga. Oh, and may You pour out Your Spirit without measure upon the saints that abide in the secret place with You. May your gifts be poured out. May there be no measure to the Spirit upon their lives. May they take this city for you. May those who know their God be strengthened and do great exploits. May Your Spirit rest on Chattanooga without measure and lives be radically transformed by the power of Your Spirit.
Accept my worship and prayer O, Lord God Almighty for you are Holy Holy Holy. You are Lord of All the Earth. The one who was and is and is to come. The Alpha and Omega the Beginning and the End. I give you glory all the glory.”
I stop for a moment. I am actually kind of ready for the song to end. I feel exposed, maybe watched. What else can I pray?
“I just sing, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty. I give you glory.” “I love you so much. I love you, Father. I love you, Jesus. I love you, Holy Spirit. And I will worship at your throne night and day 24/7.” “Receive my prayer. Receive my worship for all of Chattanooga.”
Then I just lay quietly and turned my palms to heaven. The song ended and I stopped the music that had split the quiet atmosphere. I sat up and waited for something to happen.
“Show me your glory, Lord” my spirit whispers. I see nothing. But I drink in the beautiful view as the cool air brushes against my face. I look around for an angel or something. “Well not an angel”, I thought. I want to see my King. I want to see the Lord Himself. An angel would have been a disappointment in that moment.
Again, I wonder if there might be some random camper out there watching all of this.
I wish I could say I spoke the prayer with boldness and confidence and power but I still felt like I was being watched. I prayed and sang meekly and simply. But I did speak the words I have written here to the best I recall.
Maybe, I was being watched out there. I am kind of ready to go at this point. But I hear the still voice of My Father, say, “Remain for a few minutes, son.”
I say ok. And I sit quietly for a few more minutes. I am sort of ancy to get going. I feel uncomfortable again like I am being watched.
Then He says, “You can go now. I will strengthen you.”
The Most Difficult Stretch
I put my shoes and socks on and pack up. I remove my jacket from my bag and put it on. I know I am going to need it now. I groan as I get up. Wow, I am hurting. I move very slowly down the path.
A very light rain begins to move in. I think of the symbolism of rain in the Bible, the Lords blessing as a result of the Presence of the Lord. I ask the Lord to make it rain. Make it pour O, God. I don’t care if I get wet. You will carry me out of here.
The rain stops within a minute or two. I am kind of sad and also pretty glad I was not going to get soaked to the bone.
Within a few minutes all the exhilaration is gone and the reality of getting back sets in. This is actually the most difficult stretch of the path. I was saving my light for this last part. Will I have enough battery? My physical energy is gone.
I hear the Lord say, “You can rest whenever you like. I am going to get you off this mountain.”
I am probably stopping every 3-5 minutes at this point. All I can do is hobble. I begin to pray, O Lord, strengthen me. Heal my knees. Just restore me completely. Send an angel to strengthen me.
All I hear is, “Rest whenever you would like and ask My Spirit to strengthen you.”
So, I do every 3-5 minutes. I don’t feel strengthened. However, I keep going. My strength continues to decline and I am not covering much ground. I have to use my cell light more and more to avoid falling or losing the path. But I stay right on the path and never fall.
I am feeling like I am dying now. Lord, just take me to the truck. You could transport me just like Elijah and this would all be over. I have done what You asked of me. Please, Lord I beg. I begin to question the whole thing. Am I going to make it? I am beyond praying verses or singing. My cell battery is at 10%. I walk in silence.
I cannot run out of cell power. I must have the light for the final stretch. The path is hardest to see at the end. Am I going to make it? There is maybe, 1.5 more miles. Lord, “Did I do what you wanted me to do? Or am I a crazy man?”
I can’t hear Him at this point. But He is assuring me in my spirit. But I am too tired to hear His voice now.
After what seems like forever I clear a long stretch that is straight. My cell battery is at maybe 7%. Praise, God if I stay on the path and don’t miss it I will have just enough. This gives me strength. The Lord is really going to get me out of these woods! Thank you, Jesus!
Focus, I say to myself. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit. About 10 minutes later I lose the trail. I look at the GPS and use light and go back and find it. My cell battery is about 6%. Ok, its holding. Thank you, Jesus.
I continue. Five minutes more and the path is gone again. I am traveling through briars again. Good grief! Help me Lord! I look at the GPS. The path is right below me. I try to go down to it but I can’t get to it. I am confused. I double back and try to go down again. I can’t get to it. I am so tired and also confused.
So, I think, “If I keep moving ahead parallel with the trail maybe I can drop down onto the trail. Maybe it’s up then down and the GPS is wrong.” I am not thinking straight at this point but I don’t realize it. My cell battery drops to 4%. I cannot run out I am so close. Please send an angel, Lord to guide me home.
I continue to travel up and ahead and try to drop down in spots. But I keep hitting a steep drop off. I begin to sort of realize what I have done. My cell phone battery drops to 3%. I need to travel back about 15 minutes to get back down on the path. But I am out of energy for that. And I don’t think the cell battery will make it. I look at the GPS and see that if I move about 10 minutes ahead I will be right above the point where I need to drop down to the bridge.
What do I do? I don’t think I prayed. I felt as though I had no choice but to move ahead. I could not risk going back and being out of light on this steep rock face. I had one shot at it. Move forward and hope I see a way down.
I move ahead, this time with a little more speed so that I can beat the battery that is draining fast. Without light, I am done. I cannot attempt to go down close to the rock face in the dark. That would certainly lead to a fall in this darkness and death. No one even knows I am out here. Good grief! I am an idiot. Lord, did you really want me to do this tonight? Did I miss it? I know the answer but look at my situation. I know in my heart I am not going to make it down. I am throwing a hail marry by deciding to move forward.
I hear the quiet voice of my Friend, “I am going to get you off this mountain tonight, son.”
I semi sarcastically think well, its morning now. But I know what He means. I say, “It’s going to take a miracle. I need a miracle God.”
I move on. I drop down again. Nothing. I move back up. Lord, “I am lost. Please send an angel to lead me out. I am officially lost.” My cell battery is now at 2%. It’s an angel or nothing for me. I am sweating and that’s not good if I am spending the night out here.
I move ahead and then drop down again. I shine my light ahead and I am looking at some kind of shelter that someone built with a tarp. I see a rake, a hammer and a shovel laying on the ground. Interesting, I say, “That’s not an angel, Lord, I need an angel.”
I think, well, maybe this means there has to be a path down. If I can find a spot to drop down, I can get home with my remaining 2% battery. I have to move ahead and then back down. I moved ahead then drop down a smaller rock face and get excited. I kept going down. I am disoriented. And then I see the ledge, straight down maybe 50 feet. It scared me. Back up and don’t slip! I move back up 15-20 feet and sink to the ground exhausted.
I think I missed my angel, Lord. You had an angel build me a shelter out here and I walked right by it like an idiot. I have to get back up there. I start to move up and get disoriented. I can’t get there. I sink to the ground completely drained. I have no more energy.
My cell battery drops to 1%. I am done! I say, Lord. I am done! I need a certified miracle. I am sorry I missed the shelter. I thought you were sending an angel. Now I can’t find the shelter and I have no energy left. Help me God!
I literally never considered calling for help until this moment. I believed the Lord would get me off the mountain by supernatural means. I looked at my 1% battery. I pray, Lord do I need to call for help? Too late to call. I could probably take my phone off airplane mode and send a pic of my GPS location to one person with my final 1%. Who do I send it to, Lord?
I decide it needs to be my friend and prayer partner, Steve. He will probably read the text at this time of night and might be crazy enough to come out here. So, I send him two images and a text saying, “I got lost out here on a hike. About to spend the night in the woods. If you don’t hear from me by 7am, send help. My phone is about to die.” The two pics go through.
Steve replies immediately, “Where are you? I am coming.”
Then I realized the pics I sent did not show my full path. So, I snap one more and click send. The phone dies but the message does not go.
I laugh at the irony of the situation. I feel at peace. I know the Lord will save me. I just don’t know how. Maybe, I am to spend the night on this mountain and He will walk me out after a cold night. Can I make it without hypothermia setting in? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I am sweating and I don’t have the energy to go any further. The coldness will soon set in. Will Steve come? I should have told him to come. If he comes, can he find me out here? There is no way he can before 6 or 7 am. Can I make it that long?
I laid my head on my backpack to rest. I am so thirsty. I hear water dripping from a rock about 10 feet away. Oh, how nice water would be right now. But I fear the mountain water might make me sick. But I am so thirsty. I am too tired to even get to the water.
I lay still for a while. Lord, “Did I miss you on all of this? This would be a silly way to die. But oh, how I would love to see you tonight. I know you are not going to let me die for making a mistake. But did I get it wrong tonight? Did I overstep? Was I overconfident and miss what You wanted me to do? I thought you said you were going to get me off this mountain tonight. I am sorry, Father if I missed it today. I just thought you said to do all this. Did I miss it?
“You did exactly what I wanted you to do, son.”
Ok. It does not feel like it right now. Why am I here? I was so close. I missed the path by a fraction. You let me stay on path till right at the end and then I lost it right at the end. Now I am going to face the cold night. Are you sure I did not miss it? I don’t think you are going to let me die. I don’t understand. This is crazy. This is just so crazy its funny. I laugh out loud a little. I trust you, Lord. I love you so much. If I die, I die, but I still believe you will somehow get me through this. If only I had some light and energy to find that shelter. I am so stupid. I should have realized that was You helping me. Forgive me.
The cold begins to set in and my mouth and throat are so dry. Lord, do you think I could just get a little of that water down there? Just a little? Maybe it will not make me sick. Is it clean enough? I might have enough strength to roll down there and come back. Maybe moving will help me warm up again.
So, I roll and scoot down there. I get to the rock and feel around until I find the dripping. I touch the water and put my hands up to my eyes. Oh, its muddy! Man! Do I want to drink muddy water? I had water earlier today. Dehydration is not going to be my problem. My problem will be hypothermia. So, I scoot back up to my backpack and lay back down.
Can I make it through the night, Lord? It will probably be light enough in 4-5 hours to try to make my way back. Will I have the strength or will I be too cold and weak? I trust you. I am going to try to sleep.
After maybe 15 minutes a light rain begins to fall. Oh no, I think. I am already cold. I can’t get wet. But I am too tired to try to move. Where would I go anyway? Hopefully, it will pass.
After maybe 5 minutes the rain stops. I am getting colder but I remain curled up. “Holy Spirit, will you wrap yourself around me and keep me warm?” You could simply warm me by surrounding me with your Presence.” But the cold continues to cut through.
Did I miss you on this, Lord? Why am I stuck so close to the end? I know you could save me instantly. A feeling of peace comes over me and I begin to laugh at the whole thing even as I get colder.
Ok Lord, “I am really sorry I passed the shelter without checking with You. I realize now You prepared a shelter for me. I have seen nothing out here all day remotely close to a tent or shelter and then you place one right here. I asked you for an angel and you provided a shelter but I was too dumb to see it. Surely, You would help me get to the shelter. Would you strengthen me one last time and allow me to find it in the dark? It would be a miracle. I know I am close but I can hardly move.”
I somehow find the strength to get up, push through some briars and climb up the rock in front of me. I stumble back to the left and there it is, my miracle shelter. I can’t believe it! Thank you, Lord. You are so amazing. Thank you for being so gracious and giving me a second chance. You are so good to me.
I curl up under the tarp shelter and lay my head on my backpack so thankful. Then suddenly these words come alive in my spirit from Psalm 46. “You are my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in time of need. I give thanks to you.” Over and over I pray them. I am literally living them.
As I lay there giving thanks, the wind begins to pick up and the cold begins to sink in again. I realize I should probably wrap up in the tarp like it is a tent to keep my body heat concealed. I lay for another 5 minutes because I don’t have the energy. But I just got colder. I have to wrap up. I know it.
So, I finally, lift myself up and rip the tarp off two branches to which it had been nailed. I spread it out the best I could without standing up since I was so tired. Then I rolled up in it like a burrito. I pulled my backpack in and closed off all the openings.
What wonderful warmth. Wow! I praise you, Lord. I can now make it through the night. I begin to laugh again. This is all so crazy. Never would I have imagined this morning I would be spending the night out here in a tarp. I asked you for an angel and you gave me a tarp. It was just enough to get me through the night. I am so thankful. But why did you have me miss the trail right at the end?
Son, You have done exactly what I wanted you to do. I told you I am going to get you off this mountain tonight.”
Ok, thank you, Father. I feel the warmth in my little cocoon. It’s almost like it was His warmth. I am reminded of my prayer from earlier. I am wrapped in His Presence. Verses from Psalm 91 come alive within me. ”
He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say the Lord is My refuge and my fortress. I trust you, Lord. You cover me with your feathers and under your wings I take refuge.
I love you! You are so good to me. I love experiencing your promises. You are an amazing, God. I want to experience all of them. I begin to laugh again. What a crazy night! Is this really happening. I continued to lay there in gratitude and my mind and spirit continues to pray,
“I will give thanks to you. For You O, Lord are my refuge and strength my ever-present help in time of need. I love dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Thank you for your friendship. I would not trade it for the world. I am abiding under your shadow. You are covering me with Your feathers and I am under Your wings.”
What a rush! It begins to rain and I adjust my tarp so that water cannot come in. Wow, I am so thankful. I would be getting soaked right now had it not been for this tarp. I thank the Lord with even more passion within My Spirit.
I wonder if I am going to spend the rest of the night here or will Steve be coming for me? Or will he send a rescue party. My goodness, how embarrassing and I am so close to getting back. I almost hope I can just make it through the night, limp out of here unnoticed and go home. I really don’t want to be rescued and have to explain that I decided to hike way too far leaving myself in serious danger out here at night.
A Royal Rescue
It must have been about 2 hours after I texted Steve I heard the yells from a search party. I look across the bluff to the other side and see the flash lights of about 3 search parties. Unbelievable, Steve sent the cavalry. Thank you, Steve. Lord, you are really going to get me out of here tonight. Wow! You are so good. I yell back but they can’t hear me. I laugh and curl back up.
The search party gets closer and this time they can hear me. The search parties struggle to get to me because as soon as they drop down into the valley they can no longer hear me because of the creek. Then as they come back up, they are facing the rock face. I am sure it’s also hard for them to tell exactly where I am by just a pic of my GPS location. I am above them and they will have to go around to get to me. I stop hearing them call my name. I think well, maybe, I am spending the night out here after all.
After maybe an hour I hear them again. This time they have a team on the other side and two search parties below. The party on the other side makes voice contact with me and begins to direct the search parties below by radio. I think one team goes right and the other left. But I not entirely sure. I just want to curl back up in my shelter. But the leader on the other side continues to encourage me to yell out so the search parties can spot my location. “I know you are tired, son but keep yelling”, says the man.
I start to think about how annoying it must be for these men to have come out here in the middle of the night in the cold and rain to find some dumb hiker that could not take reasonable precautions to get himself back to his vehicle. These guys are risking their lives out here for me. They could slip and fall be hurt badly or worse. How am I going to explain to them why I was out here hiking in the middle of the night? I am sure they will be annoyed with me for dragging them out here.
The rain continues to come and go. It’s not heavy but I would have been wet and getting close to hypothermic had I not had my tarp. Thank you, Lord. Did you have an angel build me this shelter out here? I doubt it but I did ask for an angel about 50 times so you never know.
I begin to wonder if the search parties will be able to find me. I stop yelling for a while and just cover up. I just know Steve is with one of these search parties. The only way he is not with them is if they did not let him. I had a picture in my mind of what it will be like when he comes up to me. I am going to give him a huge hug and show him the shelter the Lord provided for me out here. We are going to stop and give thanks to the Lord together for He is our refuge and strength our ever-present help in time of need.
I know Steve will be amazed but not surprised. He knows the Lord’s faithfulness and He trust fully in him. I can’t wait to show him my tarp! Then I realize there is no way they will probably let Steve join the search. It was no amateur search party out there and they would have to stay organized to avoid someone else getting lost or hurt.
Again, my friend across the way, revives me and gets me yelling again. I barely hear him say, “The parties are going around. Be looking.” Wow, Lord, you really ARE going to get me off this mountain tonight. You did not send an angel but you gave me a shelter and sent a large-scale search party out for me. Thank you!
Then I look to my right and I see lights. They found me! Amazing. Two guys from the Signal Mountain fire department greet me, Adam and Nathan. I am happy to be rescued but not looking forward to explaining. But Adam and Nathan greeted me with a bottle of water and sat me down to look at my hurting left knee. They don’t make me feel dumb for getting lost and stuck out here but instead they are kind and understanding. They want to make sure I am ok. Nathan takes his sweatshirt and tears in up and wraps my knee with it, while I eat a granola bar and drink water. Adam makes sure I have my tarp around me to keep warm.
They ask if I can walk and try to think of ways to get me off the mountain without me having to walk. I think they would have carried me if I was not able to walk. I insisted I could walk. The “angel” who built my shelter also left a small rake. It made for a perfect walking stick. Adam folded up my tarp and Nathan offered to carry it out for me. I was getting Royal treatment out here.
We moved very slowly back with Nathan out front and Adam behind me both making sure I did not slip or fall. Occasionally, one of them would drop down to see if they could spot the trail or to make sure they did not put me in peril. We had an enjoyable conversation as we slowly made our way back. And I was beginning to think these guys are actually having fun out here rescuing me. They were super cool. I owe them one for sure!
We eventually found the trail and continued down to the bridge. We met up with two or three more members and crossed the bridge. One member was from the police department. Officer Foster. So, not only did they send the entire fire department but the Signal Mountain police department was out there too. They sat me back down and had the medic wrap my knee a little better. They also insisted on bringing in their utility vehicle to take me the rest of the way. It was probably another half mile up hill and the path was wide enough for the vehicle. They did not have to do this for me but I did not argue.
Ten minutes later another member of the fire department came down with the utility vehicle and Adam and Nathan drove me to my truck. As we pulled up, Steve was at the fence waiting on me. He had been up all night and had driven in from Alabama. The first thing out of his mouth was, “What were you doing up there? I know what you were doing.” I could tell by his tone, he knew.
Steve and I have shared Bible verses together for years and prayed together and the Holy Spirit so often has us in tune with each other. I couldn’t believe it. He knew I was praying on the mountain. As I hugged him, He says, “Did He teach you to trust?” I think I said, “You know it!” as I thanked him for saving my life. I could see in Steve’s eyes that he too was enjoying this and was happy to be there saving my life. Steve and every member of the fire department and police department seemed to enjoy every minute of my search and rescue. I was thankful and amazed by their service. They treated me like royalty.
I was pretty out of it but I tried to thank the members of the team at the top. I looked up and down the road and it was lit up with emergency vehicles. My goodness, I think! The Lord sent me a royal rescue. Then I am informed the news is there and I have already made the 6am news. Thank God my name was not released. I few minutes later I see the news cameras approaching and I tell Steve we need to get out of here. As I am leaving, Adam brings over my tarp and rake. I forgot about it but I was thankful to have them as a memory of God’s faithfulness toward me.
Steve suggest we go to Waffle House for breakfast. I don’t think I can make it but I am hungry and want to chat with Steve. So, we meet at Waffle House for an amazing breakfast. I can barely walk and I am in a ton of pain but my spirit is soaring and I am happy to be alive. You really did it, Lord. You got me off that mountain. Unbelievable! Did all that really just happen? Steve proceeds to tell me name after name of people he had praying for me along with his side of the story. We enjoyed talking about it and planned on catching up again that evening. Then I drove home in the pouring rain, to clean up and go to bed before I crashed.
When I got home, I asked the Lord to allow me to have the strength and privilege to worship Him one last time. It started here with this song. It might as well end here the same way. I got on my face before the Lord and turned on my song and I stepped into the throne room of heaven to worship the Great I AM, my Friend.
Day and Night. Night and Day I will worship at your throne 24/7.
As I worshiped, I ask one more time. “Did I do exactly what you wanted me to do? Why did you have me get lost and spend the night out there? I don’t need an answer. I am past having to have an answer. I just want to know Your ways. I just love when You share your secrets with me.
Then I hear His beautiful voice: “It was a test.”
I smile and say ok. That’s good enough for me. Holy Holy Holy are you, Lord. Day and Night, Night and Day I will worship at your throne 24/7. What a privilege it is!
Here is a link to the news story: