I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and shut off the water. I dried off and got dressed while trying to keep my towel and clean clothes out of the puddles on the floor.
When I had walked from our tent to the shower building in the middle of the campground, the sun was just beginning to set. When I pushed open the shower building door and stepped outside, the sun had fallen and the campground was dark.
I was twelve years old and raised to be independent. I was used to walking all over my small hometown alone, and I wasn't afraid of showering alone in a strange campground.
But now the campground was dark, the only light shining from the poles around the shower building. The gravel driveways to the camping sites radiated out from the center in all directions. Each driveway looked the same, a gravel path lined with tents and RV's. I picked the path I thought led back to our tent and started walking.
My flip-flops crunched quietly on the gravel. Campfires flickered on both sides of the road, surrounded by strange and shadowy figures. I heard laughter in the distance, and music from a far-off radio.
I walked slowly to the end of the road, but I didn't see our tent or station wagon, so I turned around and headed back toward the lights of the shower building.
I chose again and walked a different path. I saw the same dark night and flickering fires, but no familiar tent or car. I turned back and tried again, over and over, moving faster every time, fighting the rising panic in my heart and the choking tears of fear and confusion.
Finally, I turned and hurried to the shower building to try again. A flashlight beam bobbed toward me through the night, and my brother asked, "Where have you been? It's dark out here."
I have walked many paths in my life. Often I start out feeling confident and sure of my destination, only to wind up wondering where I am and why nothing looks familiar. Many times I have turned back and started over, trying again and again to reach some goal that seemed shadowy and unclear.
If I had stayed near the light and safety of the campground shower house, my brother would have found me, and I would have been safe in my sleeping bag much sooner.
If we stay still and keep calm, God will come to find us. He is always out there searching, and he will lead us on the proper path toward home.
Have you ever felt lost and afraid? How did you get found again?