BLIND FAITH DOWN THE MIDDLE SISTER AFTER DARK!
(Three Sisters, Oregon wilderness area)
Shared by: Norm Rasmussen
You can view segments of the climb by clicking on the following YouTube links: Part 1 Part 2
North Sister is on the right (10,090 feet). Middle Sister is sharp peak just left of North Sister (10,050 feet). South Sister is on the left (10,360 feet). [Footages approximate]
The primary purpose of sharing this testimony is to help increase your faith.
Have you ever done something incredibly dumb and God had to bail you out? Here is one of those times ...
We decided to climb the Middle Sister (Three Sisters Mountains) out of Bend, Oregon simply because mountains are to be conquered ... even if you aren't equipped to climb them - which we weren't! It was the summer of 1992.
My dear wife, Kathleen, and I were on vacation from Michigan, visiting my family in Oregon. We were nearing the end of our vacation, and my younger brother, Dale Rasmussen, wanted to spend the last day showing my son, Brian Rasmussen, and I a beautiful waterfall (Obsidian Falls) up near the base of Middle Sister mountain west of the Bend area in beautiful Central Oregon.
My brother told his wife, Karil, that we would be home by about six o'clock that evening for a family steak dinner. His wife wanted to know where we would be hiking, just in case of an emergency, but my brother wasn't quite sure what to tell her. He hadn't made up his mind to which of several places he wanted to show my son and I.
On the way out the door of his house, my brother grabbed a partial bag of sugarcoated corn flakes and three apples for some energy for the hike. "Nothing heavy would be needed," he told us. "We won't be doing that strenuous of a hike."
Leaving Redmond and driving west toward the mountains, we stopped at a convenience store and each purchased a candy bar for a little extra energy just in case. We had one canteen of water with us which we probably wouldn't really need, because there would be little streams we could drink from where we probably would be hiking, my brother assured us.
By mid-morning we parked the truck I had borrowed from my brother-in-law and began our hike up a well-groomed trail to Obsidian Falls. As we began our hike, my brother informed us that we would need to walk at a brisk pace so we would have enough time to soak up the beauty once we arrived at the falls. He had promised his wife that we would not be late for that delicious steak dinner she was going to prepare for three hungry hikers.
The hike to Obsidian Falls from where we parked the truck is, roughly, about five miles. It took us about two hours to reach the waterfalls. We had hiked hard to get there, and devoured the corn flakes, candy bars and apples we had brought along. The beauty of the waterfalls and surrounding area was as breathtaking as my brother had promised. It is one of those magnificent places in the world that mere words can hardly do justice in describing its beauty. The waterfall is unique in that a mere few hundred yards above it, the water bubbles up out of the ground to literally create the river that makes the waterfall. The water bubbling up out of the base of the rock cliffs comes from melted glacial ice from high above.
After scooping up handfuls of this refreshing, crystal clear bubbling ice water to quench our thirst, we stood gazing heavenward at the top of the majestic Middle Sister, each wondering what it would be like to be standing ON TOP of it . . . looking north to see the tops of mountains in the state of Washington, and to the south where mountain tops in California can also be seen on a clear day.
I'll condescend at this point, and ask that you allow me to engage in a little "tongue-and-cheeking" at this juncture of the story. My son, on summer break from college at Michigan Technological Institute located in upper Michigan; myself from lower Michigan where a sand dune is about the highest elevation one can find; and my brother who would literally "hike" to heaven rather than take an elevator if the choice was given him, just so he wouldn't miss any of God's beautiful creation between here and there . . . we began to tell ourselves that to be this close to the Middle Sister and turn around and go back down to civilization would almost be a sin that we could never forgive ourselves for. We did not want to find ourselves WISHING years later that we should have taken advantage of the situation by continuing our hike UPWARD to the top of the mountain.
A spirit of "stupid" possessed us!
It had to have been about that moment that a spirit of "stupid" possessed us, for we each agreed that the top of the mountain didn't REALLY look all that far away anyway. We could attempt it, and if we ran out of time, we could always turn around and go back.
It was past noon. We would have to hike hard to complete the journey. We shifted into "turbo" gear, and began our challenging climb onward and upward. Experienced climbers often make the climb in two days - spending a night in a backpack tent. We were going to make it by dark?!
Our climb took us over lava rock and glacial ice pack. Walking across the glacial ice packs allowed us to make better time, but it also put our lives in great jeopardy. There were numerous underground streams under the ice where a person might break through and drop into ice canyons below, never to survive.
By four o'clock that afternoon, we began to realize how badly we had misjudged just how far and high the top of the mountain was from where we stood gazing up at it near the waterfall area. Though we had covered a lot of distance, the top of the mountain was much farther away than what we wanted to admit to ourselves. To reach the top of the mountain by dark, we would have to push ourselves harder yet. Thus we did.
We reached the top of the peak just after 6:00 P.M. At 10,050 the air was thin and the temperature was cool. I had worn cutoff shorts and a tank top, and a brisk breeze was chilling my exposed skin. We gazed in all four directions with awe, took a few photographs, and told ourselves we would now literally have to run down the mountain where we could to make it back to our car by dark. We estimated our car to be roughly 10 miles away. The first five miles of that would be without any trail.
Exhausted, our stomachs growling for food (which we had none) because we had expended so much energy climbing to the top, and our muscles weak and vulnerable, we began our rapid decent down the mountain.
To the west, God blessed us with a sunset that helped me to take my mind off the pain in my knee. Then the sun was below the horizon. At dark, we were back near the waterfall, without a flashlight. Our car was some five miles away. Our bodies were crying out for energy.
Now we faced a dilemma. We had no flashlight. There was to be no moon out that night. It was in mid-August and that particular year there had been little rain in Central Oregon. The woods was like gasoline ready to ignite with the least little spark. We had about a dozen matches for a fire, but the wind was blowing strongly, and surely the sparks would scatter and a forest fire would break forth. A forest fire was the last thing we wanted but surely the FIRST thing that would happen if we started a fire to keep warm during the night. (Even in August, the elevation we were at, the temperature almost always drops down into the upper 30's).
We now faced a challenging dilemma
Thus, we now faced a challenging dilemma. The smart thing to do was hunker together in cover and shiver the night until daybreak, walking back to the car the next morning. However, if we did that, we knew how much trouble it would cause for our anxious wives and the police who surely would be contacted, searching the mountains for us. We had promised to be back for a steak dinner by 6 o'clock, and now it was 10 P.M.
To further complicate matters by staying the night, my wife and I had a scheduled flight out of Boise, Idaho that early Sunday morning. We would not be able to drive the distance from Central Oregon to Boise in time to make our flight. Nevertheless, it would be suicide to attempt the walk down the pitch-black trail through the dark, for surely we would wander off the trail and fall over a cliff, or walk into a sharp tree limb and poke out an eye. Boy - had we ever been "dumb" to climb to the top of the middle Sister in one afternoon without warm clothing, extra food and water, and a flashlight.
It was time to ask the Lord what we should do. Should we have Search and Rescue teams out combing the mountains looking for us? They would have no clue to search where we were, because we had not been able to tell my brother's wife where we were going to be hiking. We didn't want our families up all night fearing the worse. Perhaps God would send an angel to light the way down the trail, if we prayed.
"Lord - we realize how dumb this was of us to do what we did. Please forgive us. You know the situation we're in. It stands to reason we should spend the night here until daybreak, because we can't see. Should we stay here the night?"
We felt foolish even asking. Yet, all three of us knew God is a God of miracles. We knew that God could get us down that mountain in the dark, if He chose to do so. We held hands in the dark and began to pray, waiting to see what God might say.
As we stood there holding hands . . . waiting on our heavenly Father to tell us what the wise thing would be for us to do . . . I felt the Holy Spirit impressed me with these thoughts:
"I want you to trust Me to lead you down the trail through the darkness."
To be honest, I began to squirm inside. This would be suicide. How, God, can this be You putting these thoughts inside my spirit? Maybe it's a demonic spirit trying to see if we are stupid enough to try such a thing.
Then these thoughts ran through my inner-being: "Why even TRUST Me to answer ANY prayer if you are going to doubt that I am going to answer it in the first place? Either you can trust Me to speak to you when you ask for direction such as you have, or you're just playing games with yourself.
"I've told you in My Word in James 1:5-8: 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.' "
Ouch! That stung. I had just been taken to God's "spiritual woodshed" and had my tired bottom spanked.
"Guys - what is God saying to you?" I asked through the dark. I could not see their faces now; it was that dark, even though they were standing mere inches away.
Both replied with what I was hoping not to hear. "We haven't heard anything that we know of."
"Does that mean that you think He wants us to spend the night here?"
"Evidently it does," they replied. "What did you hear?" My brother asked.
I shared with them what I felt God had said to my spirit. After some painful hesitation on their part, and understandably so, they then said, "Okay then, you're going to have to do the leading. We'll hold on to the back of each other's shirt, and inch our way behind you."
At that point, I was hoping God would give me supernatural night vision, as a deer has. On the other hand, maybe He would send an angel we could follow, but He didn't. What did come to mind was to find a long stick, and hold it parallel to the ground, out in front of my chest. The stick would be first to hit a tree. If it hit a tree, that would mean we were starting to leave the trail. As long as I hit no tree with the stick, we would have to be on the trail (though there would be places where no timber grew close along the trail).
Standing one behind the other and holding on to each other's shirts, we began the "midnight tiptoe boogey" towards our General Motors promise land (my brother-in-law's [Jerry Cheadle] truck). Angels and hoot owls had to be getting a big chuckle out of our midnight parade.
On a number of occasions, we left the trail where there were no trees alongside it. Unable to find our way back, we were forced to light a book-match to re-find it. The wind was blowing briskly, and the matches would extinguish quickly before we could get the most use from them. Soon we were out of matches, and to re-find the trail, we felt with our hands for the smooth pathway that would lead us down out of the mountains.
Eventually the trail took us into dense timber growth, and that made staying on the trail much easier. The stick that the lead person used to find trees on our left and right worked very nicely, and we began making up for lost time at that juncture.
Another challenge we faced on the trail was sudden drop-offs. To keep the trail from washing out during rainstorms, the State of Oregon put small logs periodically across the trail, and a stair-step-like contouring arrangement just past them. The trail would be smooth walking, and then all of a sudden you would drop down about six inches instantly. When you don't know it's coming, you don't adjust your back muscles, and the sudden drop could put intense pain on your spine, we quickly found out.
Our confidence began to grow
Amazingly, our confidence began to grow as we walked through the dark, mastering the technique of smacking the stick off trees along the trail, and by reaching down periodically and feeling the edge of the trail.
By two a.m. that early Saturday morning, we were back at the truck. We had no food or water in it, and immediately we began to wonder where we could find a restaurant open at that hour of the morning once we got back to town to get some much needed fuel in our shaky, exhausted bodies.
Ten miles down the road my brother-in-law's truck suddenly quit running. Something inside the motor was broken.
About two hours before daybreak, a couple of bow hunters stopped. They had a little food to leave with us and a can of soda, and continued on their way. We were hoping they would have compassion on us, give up their opening-morning deer hunt, and take us back to town. That had been our prayer - that God would send someone by to take us back to town.
Nearly an hour later the two hunters returned. "We didn't have the heart to leave you stranded out here. Get in. We'll take you back to town."
We were elated! We arrived back at Redmond just after daybreak to hear from my brother's wife that the Sheriff Department had not sent out a rescue team looking for us that night, because they didn't know where to send them.
My brother called a friend of his from his church, which happened to have a part that my brother felt the truck needed to run. Exhausted and wanting to do nothing but get some much needed sleep, we drove back up into the mountains and my brother replaced the part in the motor, thankfully being handy with fixing car engines. The truck came roaring back to life, and my son and I drove it straight to John Day, Oregon, where my wife and daughter were waiting. From there we loaded up all our possessions in my brother-in-law and sister's car, and drove some 100 plus miles over mountains to Boise, Idaho to catch our scheduled plane flight that early Sunday morning back to Michigan.
It was an exhausting experience, but one we'll cherish for a lifetime. God was faithful to help us in our time of distress, praise His holy name!
If you would like to read Norm's born again testimony, you can click on this following link: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/L-N/Norm.htm
If you would like to read Dale's born again testimony, you can click on this following link: http://precious-testimonies.com/BornAgain/d-g/DaleRasm.htm
If you would like to read Brian's born again testimony - PRAY! He has been too busy to write it.
If you would like to read another faith building testimony, you can clink on this following link: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Hope_Encouragement/a-e/Desperation.htm
. . . Maybe you are going through a time of darkness right now in YOUR life, and everything looks hopeless and bleak. Your confidence may be so low that you feel as though God doesn't care about your situation. On the other hand, . . . maybe you are so hopeless that you're not even sure God EXISTS period. It can happen. Dear one . . . if this happens to be you, I would like to encourage you to DIG IN with God. Go to Him in prayer one more time, and DON'T let go of Him until He imparts to you a fresh supply of hope.
There are times when we need to consider fasting to GET HOLD of God. There are times when we need to lock ourselves up with His word the Holy Bible, and EXPECT God to speak to us through it before we will leave that room. There are times when we need to get down on our knees before God and tell Him (actually tell OURSELVES) that we're NOT getting off them until we hear from Him. I'm not talking about throwing a "temper-tantrum" either. I'm talking about PERSISTING. There's an important difference.
Matthew 11:12 says: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Daniel of the Old Testament had to be "violent" to win the battle of prayer He fought with the forces of darkness that stood against him as He believed God to answer the prayer that he prayed. Daniel Chapter 10 gives us vitally important insight into how hard we sometimes must PERSISTENTLY fight before we see the answer come. God hears our prayer the instant we pray it . . . but sometimes it takes angels that God dispenses on behalf of our prayer to fight an intense fight with satanic spirits before we see God's answer manifest.
The Book of Revelation tells us that the most intense warfare ever to be waged in the spiritual dimension will be fought as we move closer to the return of Jesus Christ. We must not be naive in our understanding of spiritual warfare, precious one.
Remember this ALWAYS about seeing God move on our behalf - - expecting Him to answer our prayers: ANYONE can ask God for help or guidance in prayer. However, are we "violently persistent" enough in God to wage warfare along with His angels to see the prayer ANSWERED?
Sometimes we don't realize that continual, persistent, active trusting is a form of prayer in action. Our trust provides God the "legal right" to answer our prayer.
Jesus told us that Satan would try to wear us down to where our faith would be nearly depleted ("Nevertheless, will I find faith when I return?" - Luke 18:8). Why? Because prayer releases God's POWER to change evil or adverse circumstances on earth, and in our lives and situations. The kingdom of darkness is not nearly as threatened when we pray prayers that are not backed with EXPECTANCY that God is going to answer them.
Trust can be likened to the "starter" of God's engine. Faith can be likened to the "gasoline" that provides fuel for God's engine to keep running until one's destination is reached. God has not ordained Himself or His angels to necessarily originate the TRUST and the FAITH to see our prayers answered here on earth. God HAS ordained His followers, you and I . . . to MAKE A DECISION to trust and exercise faith.
God will not force His trust and faith on us. We must FIRST make the decision
However, we must also realize that the ABILITY to trust and believe ultimately comes from the Holy Spirit and God's Word. So God DOES provide us with the necessary trust and faith to believe Him for what we are asking of Him . . . though it almost always requires a decision on OUR part to see Him release it to us. (Although this may sound very elementary . . . God will not force His trust and faith on us. We must FIRST make the decision to want it from Him.)
If, precious one, you feel as though you cannot fight your battle alone, be encouraged to ask other soldiers of Jesus to pray for and with you until the answer comes. Sometimes we "think" we have to fight every battle alone. That is not true. Wisdom has taught the Body of Christ that when MANY soldiers are praying for a given thing, it provides higher-octane fuel to reach the desired destination. [Hence the value of prayer intercessors, and prayer ministries].
When our faith is weak, and we just can't seem to trust God to even help us get out of bed . . . for SURE it is time to ask as many of God's soldiers to pray for us as we can. NEVER - I repeat NEVER - let yourself get to that point where you can't go to your other brothers and sisters in Christ to lift you up in prayer.
The wise soldier of Jesus has the names of trusted prayer warriors close at hand that they can contact in emergencies. They have the telephone numbers handy of prayer ministries. There are times when most of us run short on faith. If we are short of trust and faith . . . we need to go to others who have FULL TANKS and tap into THEIR trust and faith.
Finally . . . there are times when we can hardly bring ourselves to even WANT to go to God in prayer. If this happens to be the place you are in right now, we encourage you to TELL God that's the place you're at. Simply pray something like this:
"Lord . . . I'm so discouraged inside that I can hardly bring myself to even talk to You. Please . . . help me. You're all I have left."
A one-word prayer of "Help!" to Jesus is sometimes all He is waiting for, to come to our rescue.
After all . . . that's our Jesus . . . precious Lord and Savior that He is. At our weakest and most hopeless moments . . . a simple desperate cry of "help" to Him is the only prayer He is waiting for us to utter.
An interesting observation -- If you do an exhaustive study in the Old Testament, (better stated as Old Covenant), you will not find the word "faith" mentioned hardly at all. What you will find is the word "trust."
In the New Testament, (better stated as New Covenant), you will not find the word "trust" mentioned all that much, but you WILL find "faith" mentioned numerous times. Why IS that?
Though trust and faith CAN mean nearly the same thing, they have important differences. It has been said that trust is the "foundation" on which faith is built. The Old Testament is the foundation for God's people to build their "spiritual house." Yet, it's NOT the house itself. (Who wants to live in a basement with no roof over it?)
The New Testament is the "spiritual house" that goes UP from there. Faith is the "nails" that hold the walls and roof together. Storms will come and try to blow that house down, but because the house is sitting on a FIRM foundation of trust, the house will not give away from the bottom. Because the walls and roof OVER that foundation have a lot of "faith nails" holding it together on top of the trust foundation, the house will stand. (However, a solid foundation and a solid house built in SAND will not stand the storms of time either. One must build on rock. Jesus Christ is THE Rock we are to build our "spiritual house" on. Moreover, why not? He's one of the three persons of the eternal Godhead).
If one cannot "trust" God, one will not have sufficient faith either for a given situation. Faith GROWS by building on a solid foundation of trust. Tuck that away. I remember the time when I was a young Christian in the Lord, and I was reading books on how I could increase my faith. Although, I was trying to release faith to see God do the miraculous (and seeing NOTHING happen by the way!) . . . God put me on His "operating table" and did a little surgery on me. I'll never forget these words He whispered to my inner being: "You are trying to have faith to remove mountains, but you don't even know how to TRUST Me yet." When God whispered that, it stunned me. I was trying to graduate from college and God kindly and tenderly had to remind me that I hadn't even graduated from KINDERGARTEN yet.
When I got up off that "operating table", God gave me THIS to hold onto: "Know how to remove a mountain into the sea . . . when you don't have enough faith to "poof" it there?"
I almost had to chuckle when He answered His own question: "One shovel full at a time."
In closing .... The most God honoring thing we can do is trust Jesus Christ to lead us through our dark valleys and off of high, dark mountains in times of desperation and hardship. The going may seem so frightful and even painful at times that we don't even want to think the word "trust" again ... but dear one, we EACH must place our trust in something or someone. We either put it in the God of all Creation, or we place it in the abyss of anger, frustration, lies, doubt, fear and ultimately - unbelief. We always believe something. Whatever that "something" happens to be will be a testimony that will one day glorify Jesus Christ, or it will not. As we choose to glorify Jesus Christ during our times of affliction ... we will one day receive unfathomable rewards for it.
Jesus Christ is so honored when we trust Him for guidance - for direction - for wisdom and understanding ... in our difficult moments of pain and darkness. Sure things may not always turn out the way we would like for them to turn out ... but even THAT we can trust to God in that He always knows what is best for each of us.
Dear One ... don't quit trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we have to quit expecting Him to do what WE want Him to do, and release our desire/s so He can be freed to do what He knows is best in our situation, because ... after all -- this life is preparing us for eternity to reign with Him.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for US a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16
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Editorial Note: On September 8, 2005, it was reported that a recent bulge that covers about 100 square miles near the South Sister indicates the area is till growing, suggesting it could be another volcano in the making or a major shift of molten rock under the center of the Cascade Range.
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