The temperature dropped so fast my ears popped. I first felt the cold in my groin as my gonads retreated up into my body. I too would have to find shelter and fast. I looked around, but all I could see were sticks and trees. There was no cover, no bushes, no overpass, no cave. I would have settled for a cleft in the rock to give me some reprieve from the rising wind and the stifling cold.
My fingers began to stiffen as I walked even as I clenched them inside my pant pockets. I remembered the Jack London story, To Build a Fire, which was a perfect example of a Man vs. Nature story. It was one that I did not wish to be a part of particularly due to the ending. I remember the biscuits and the bacon grease he kept tucked against his chest and how his dog had abandoned him. “Maybe I should light a fire,” I thought.
There was still no shade from the wind and all the wood was slightly damp. I remembered a story they told in Boy Scout camp about a challenge set forth to all the boys one night on a camping trip. Snow had befallen their camp and each boy was given the task of building their own fire. No one could do it because all of the wood they found was too wet – all but one boy.
He was older than the other boys in his troop and also more experienced. You learn a lot of things in Boy Scouts such as how to tie knots or build fires, but what you’re really learning is troubleshooting skills and self-reliance all while leaning how to interact with others and respect your environment. The boy’s solution was simple. While other boys we’re frantically burning through matches and adjusting their “tee-pee”, “log cabins”, and other fire-building designs. He was patiently chipping away at the side of a large log with his hand ax. By the time he was done he had cut through the wet, outer wood into the dry center. While they were out looking for dry tinder, he had created a pile of dry kindling by which he was easily able to start a fire – which he did – right there atop that log.
I had no axe. I had no cover. And I had no time. The thing about troubleshooting is that you’re not always looking for the solution. It’s just as valuable to figure out what doesn’t work. If one way doesn’t work, the opposite must be right. I like to think there are two types of problem solvers. There are those who when faced with a problem take flight, climb up stairs, or jump. And there are those who stick their head in the sand, hide in the cellar, or bury their head in their pillows. I brought a shovel.
I began to dig. It was a small, fold-able shovel, meant for digging small fire pits or latrines, but it was all I had. I immediately ran into roots and rock. This was not going to work. I was going to die. I prayed to God to rescue me! “Why had I not done this before?” I thought. What made me think I didn’t need him everyday of my life?
Just then the sun came out and just as soon as the cold came, the heat returned. It was a freak storm, but one that reminded me of just how out of control we really are. We need Jesus in our lives because he is our rock and our only path to eternal life. The God who made us sent his Son to die for us because that’s ho much he loves us. We are commanded to love and obey Him. This is a choice we all make.