Do you believe that faith can save your life? Prayer and my faith in God as my defender helped me survive one of the most terrifying events of my life! Here’s my story…
Saturday mornings are usually for sleeping in–especially cold February mornings like this one–but I had a strong sense I should go hiking. I tossed and turned hoping the thought would pass, but it was too late. I felt if I didn’t go, I would be missing something.
It’s a 4-hour drive from Virginia Beach to my favorite hiking spot, Old Rag Mountain, one of the most challenging and spectacular hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Shenandoah National Park in Northern Virginia.
My friend Bob was also going to be hiking Old Rag that day, so I called and asked if he would meet me at the summit at sunset so we could walk down the mountain together. By the time I gathered my backpack and hiking boots and stopped for gas and water, it was 11 a.m. I was getting a late start but I didn’t want to “miss it,” whatever “it” was.
It was a beautiful day, sunny, windy and cold, about 45 degrees. The traffic on I-64 West was steady and I was making good time when I glanced over at the car next to me. I noticed its vanity plate…GDN ANGEL. Guardian Angel! It was a sign.
I arrived at Old Rag around 3 p.m. and headed up the steep paved road that leads to the head of the trail. I saw two other hikers looking at a map, but other than that, it looked like I would be enjoying some solitude–just me, the Lord and the mountain.
[Image: Courtesy of Wendy Griffith]
As I approached the famous “rock scramble” of Old Rag, the wind really picked up. There is a portion of the rock scramble that is so difficult, I’ve always needed a push from behind or a hand up to finesse it. But today there was not a soul in sight. I prayed, “Lord, show me a foot hold or a hand hold that will allow me to propel myself up this rock.” I’m not exactly sure how I did it but within a few minutes, I was able to use some momentum and push my body up through the crevice to the other side.
Finally, I arrived at the summit. 3,291 feet of pure adventure and adrenaline. The wind was whipping so hard I had to steady myself against a rock. And it was c-o-l-d! I looked around for Bob, but to my disbelief, there was no one at the top. I took my cell phone out and there were three voicemail messages, but the battery was drained. My mind immediately went into self-preservation mode. I needed to make use of every ounce of daylight left to get down this mountain, which usually takes me about two hours.
I guessed I had maybe 20 minutes of daylight left. I prayed, Lord, keep the lights on as long as possible. I did have a small flashlight, but was not looking forward to needing to use it. I hightailed it down the mountain, but it’s very steep with lots of rocks and switchbacks, so you can’t really run.
I kept thinking about the vanity plate I saw on the way here, “GDN ANGEL.” That’s why God wanted me to see that vanity plate, so I would know He is with me. He knows I’ve gotten myself into a potentially dangerous situation and His angel is here.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-12).
The trail widened and I was able to run. By now, the moon was out and darkness had fallen. If I could just make it to the Fire Road, it will be two miles in the dark until I reached the top parking lot! God help me!
I spoke to every part of my body–legs be strong! Heart be strong! Lungs be strong! I kept thinking about how God allowed me to see that vanity plate, Guardian Angel. He knew it would bring me some peace and comfort.
I continued to run and walk, run and walk. I passed the one mile marker. I said out loud….God is with me. He is my defender. I knew nothing could happen to me apart from God’s will and that I had a promise of His protection from the Word of God.
I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm–He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121: 1-8).
A little bit into the second mile on Fire Road, I saw something moving ahead of me. I zoomed in with my flashlight…
It was a group of hikers coming down the mountain. Thank God! I approached them and one of the guys said, “Wow, you’re brave, coming down the mountain in the dark by yourself.” He was a Marine who had just returned from Afghanistan. We compared the night sky of Afghanistan to the incredible starry display above us. He said, “It’s even more beautiful in Afghanistan; the stars seem so much closer and brighter because there isn’t any light competing for their attention.”
The rest of the hike was pure joy. I told them about missing my friend Bob at the top and they said, “Yeah, we saw him up there.” Turns out Bob had gotten a little restless waiting for me and went down the mountain to see if I had gotten stuck at that tricky part. He used the “escape route,” which is faster. Otherwise we would have run into each other.
But suffice it to say, there would be no real story if Bob had shown up. God showed me that He can take care of me and you in the most difficult, scary and even dangerous situations. He just wants us to trust Him. God knows I love adventure and perhaps this is what I needed. And, even though I’m having a hard time walking today from the sore muscles, I’m sure glad I didn’t miss it!
Thanks, Heavenly Father. Walking with you is always an adventure.
PI girls, how has God taken care of you in a dangerous or scary situation? Share your stories of His protection in the comments!
This article was written by Wendy Griffith, the co-anchor of CBN Newswatch and Christian World News. She often anchors the 700 Club as well.