My knees are still shaking. My heart is still descending from its pounding past few minutes. And all I can is…”That was awesome!” I’m tucked away up here in S. Lake Tahoe (technically Stateline, Nevada) in a huge cabin getaway that my older brother calls home year-round. He recently got married and my sister-in-law is a good wife…always learning, always efforting, and willing to take whatever life throws at them and make it work. I see how she makes my brother into a better man. No greater quality could be asked for in a sister-in-law. I’m proud she’s my sister.
But yes, back to the heart-start at hand. I realized after tripping over silhouettes going in and out of my bedroom here in the coziest home in Tahoe, I had forgotten to pack one very important thing…my face- wash. I have skin that my Peruvian family always tells me is “mehor.” It’s better because of how oily it can get…apparently that is was a sign back in the days of the Incas of someone who would age exceptionally well. Great I suppose, but back here in the now, my skin still gets shiny right quick. So, face wash, as it were is my helper.
All that said, this seems like a pretty silly reason to die over. At least I hope you think so. But, as circumstance would have it, I strayed curiously close to death tonight while attempting to retrieve the all important face-wash. Tahoe is very quiet in some parts. My brother’s place, nestled up in a regal cabin community, priding itself on big blueprints and even bigger landscapes, makes for the epitome of a quiet, wooded, Christmas night. Perfect for all sorts of red glowing eyes to emerge if you let your imagination run away with you.
My imagination at a boyish high, and circumstance at my Mom’s constant level of Motherly concern, I still found myself needing my face-wash deep into the avoid-at-all-costs night. You see, we can’t park on the main drive because we wanted to let my Sis and Bro to have dibs on their own driveway. So, we naturally would park on the side of the street. Wrong. “Snowplows come through here often”, says my brother and they need the road clear. So, we park next door. The trick with that is… it’s down 13 dark steps, down the icy driveway which is at some crazy E-brake angle, down the street a good 50 yards, and then up a similar graded driveway, just as dark, to a snow covered Hummer. No problem. Haha, except this is literally the dozen or so thoughts that charge through my mind as I zip up my jacket, grab my mocassins and head…
I think there is a chance that I could get attacked outside. That’s a strange thought. Quit being scared. I really think there’s something out there right now. I have no way of knowing if there is. I still need my face wash. I could out-run a bear…if he twisted his ankle. It’s not a bear outside. Why do I think there’s something outside. I still need my face-wash. This is stupid. I’m immortal until my work for the Lord is done. Great Justin, just think of some crazy epic line for a face-wash run in the not-even-spooky woods. Ice is more likely to attack you than an animal. There’s still something out there.
That was more or less my thought process…mixed in with some random fleeting thoughts about where are my shoes, and, I wonder how cold it is outside. As you can see, there were two voices there…because while I am random, I usually can distinguish between that line between me trying to imagine most things as some cool movie playing out around me and something spiritual trying to get my attention. The most I would have given thought to an animal being outside would have been once or twice…well…technically three times if you count the bear twisting his ankle thing. That is more how my mind works (grin).
Anyway, long story short, I make my way down the stairs, further still down the icy driveway of death, which to my surprise was more snow-crunch than ice, and about 10 yards from my half a football field saunter through the chilly night, I thought I saw a shadow. I instinctively then think…Wow, a shadow, really, you sure about that tough guy…a shadow, out on a moonlit night, around a bunch of woods…no way. Apparently I can even be a sarcastic jerk to thyself. Just then eerily similar words from before skipped through my thoughts again as I took two more snowy steps…only this time…they sounded a bit different.
I tried to tell you it wasn’t a bear.
I had about a split second of joy because I was conversing with God. I then saw one of the shadows move again. I immediately thought of 10,000 bc where our main character chooses to confront and free the sabertooth cat against his better judgement, saying, “Do not eat me,” as he frees it from it watery trap. Now clearly this was no sabertooth cat, but what I did find is that the shadow, which looked a lot like a dog at first, was hunkering down. I kind of liked it when it hunkered, because as it moved and turned to face me, it nearly doubled in size. I then saw that it was a Huskie. Then I realized that this “Huskie” was bigger than the big ol’ Malamute that lived across the street, of which the whole neighborhood would joke…for no dog was as big as the ol’ Malamute. Then the duh moment came over me in sort of a frightening pour…Wolf.
So, at this point, I am supposed to dismiss that instinctive idea to run, which I did. Haha, kind of funny how that reaction tried to take over. That would have found me the slower mammal for sure. I then went back into movie mode. Not so much in a playful way this time, but almost with a screw–it mentality. I literally thought to myself, “I was here first. What if I stalk him.” Crazy right…well don’t worry, there’s no embellishment here, because fear quickly gripped me again as the wolf quickly began doing this creepy semi-circling thing. I was torn between three emotions…fear, curiousity and humor. This was a big freaking animal, probably cold, perhaps hungry. I was literally all alone in the middle of nowhere as far as screams go, and yet death and life was dancing with me…Told you it was Awesome! And oddly enough, funny set in, because of all things to die over, Nuetrogena is not one of them.
I am immortal until my work for the Lord is done. The only caviot in that entire declaration is that you still must fight to preserve that, both by surrendering to God, and by picking up a huge chunk of ice that you are prepared to bash a wolf’s skull in with should it become bored with circling its food and advance. So, I picked up my weapon, as it showed his little swords, glinting ivory which I was surprised to be able to see in the moonlit night. I think the sound of him would have annied up the fear element somethin’ fierce…there’s something about sound for me…sometimes even more than the visual. Alas, I did not hear a snarl, which allowed for bravery, and foolishness to stand a little former, side by side.
I then thought…Did God expect me not go outside even though He was clearly telling me there was an animal outside waiting for me? I thought to myself, now in a staring contest with the Wolf, if I had known exactly what God was trying to say, that it was Him saying it…would I have gone out all the same? I knew that if I could answer that question in the midst of being circled by something faster, more agile, with way sharper teeth and in its home turf…then my answer would resoundingly be a yes. A thousand times yes!
This is why I think the mission field for me will be such a dangerous place for me, at least a handful of times. I mean, c’mon…look how easily I put my life in danger for facewash. Imagine if it were an orphan being wripped from my hands by soldiers with guns…or little girls and boys being rounded up like cattle for the sex slave trade outside my ministry base’s gates. A loud and wolf-defying hell no would be found hopefully leaving my lips…at least I pray for such bravery and fight now to prepare ‘fore ever it reaches me.
And so, as if playing with a massive wolf in the woods in the middle of the starry night with facewash as the prize to be had was not crazy enough, I then, after a good heart-pounding minute, began to back up after it stopped circling me and walk away…without the face-wash of course. I clutched my giant hunk of ice tightly, more cannonball than snowball. I took only a few steps and then thought…How awesome would it be to show no fear to this fanged foe and walk away with my back to him. So…against probably wisdom from Heaven, I did just that. I’m pretty sure I quickened a step or two up the drive way quicker than the no-fear walk that preceded it. In fact, I know I did…fear and bravery make odd company. But I owned that walk back…That street belonged to me! That wolf had to pay the human the toll as far as I was concerned. And then, the little boy struck out as I gathered myself as quietly and powerfully as I could muster atop the stairs/front deck, as I heaved that piece of icy cannonball back at the wolf who had apparently walked down the street more than I thought he would. It shattered a good 10 feet in front of him on the icy road, as he went, walking off into the snow.
He didn’t scamper. But I didn’t look back as I walked away. He brought fangs. I found a cannonball. T’was a good night, even without the facewash.