Hunting for Ghost towns. Which Way?


When my wife and I were doing our graduate studies at the University of Arizona, you might say that we were going through a late "tween" stage! We became the definition of daredevils, setting out on adventures that would set your teeth on edge! (It's amazing what a few extra years of "wisdom" can do to your tummy as well as your ambitions. Now I'm terrified to even set foot on a roller coaster, no matter its size and shape! And my tummy… well it's still there!)

One weekend in late Spring, my wife and I, both tired out by our continuous studies and/or work, set out to visit the ghost towns of Southern Arizona. We had obtained an obscure map showing all of the possibilities around Tucson, and we noticed with amusement that most were in mountainous regions. "Who cares?" We said, tossing the map aside. "Such itsy-bitsy mountains won't be able to stop our fun!"

In retrospect, 6000 feet is frightfully high to me now!

Initially our quest was a success. We discovered a variety of abandoned buildings, and though the road was long and torturous, we enjoyed every bit of it. One of the ghost towns even consisted of three dilapidated shanties that had once been houses! It was fun to imagine ourselves living 100 years ago, and perhaps calling one of those decrepit shakes "home"!

But the "bumpous" dirt road (That's a word I made up. It means "having many bumps"!) was getting too ordinary, and we decided to leave it behind in favour of a rocky road that led up a mountain. According to our map (which we had retrieved!), there was a ghost town at the top of this mountain.

Only one problem: The road went up a 45 degree incline, and the farther we went, the narrower and rockier it became. Soon we came to a part of the road that was barely as wide as our chassis. The worse part was that the rocks, ranging in size from pebbles to boulders, didn't stay in one place! Rather, they shifted under the weight of the car, moving us closer and closer to the abyss!

We tried to hug the mountainside, but it was no use. A soft inner voice that I didn't recognize at that stage in my life began whispering to me that I was playing a foolish, suicidal game, and eventually I began to listen.

Where did that voice come from?

I stopped the car and tried to step out. I didn't get very far. Any attempt to exit that car would have ended up in me sliding down into the gorge below. I looked back over my shoulder at the road we had just climbed. As far as I could tell, we had made it about half-way. Going any further was definitely not an option, but neither was "backing" down the road we had just climbed! And no where was there enough room to turn around! No matter what, there seemed to be only two options: Stay put, or "slide" down the rocky gorge on my left! The first option wasn't exactly viable. It would leave us stranded in the hot Tucson sun, kilometres from civilization. But somehow, the second option didn't seem much better!

We started to pray, and somehow my wife and I managed to crawl over each other so that she was now in the driver's seat. She put the car in reverse, looked over her shoulder, and hit the gas peddle. I closed my eyes at this point and prayed, expecting the worse, but for some reason, those sliding rocks didn't push our vehicle into oblivion! After an eternity (which likely only lasted about 20 minutes!), we were back on solid, level ground, and my wife had parked the car on the side of our former "boring" dirt road! You can imagine the frantic dance of utter joy that we then performed! Although we were not in an intimate relationship Jesus, He had definitively come through for us and we could not help but praise His name.

So often in life we tend to focus on our own goals and ambitions, and without meaning to, we often put ourselves on dangerous ground with no possible way to turn around. Is it any wonder why so many of us tend to be depressed and defeated? We need to stop our hurried race to destruction long enough to let ourselves ponder our route. In His infinite wisdom God is our biggest ally, and no matter what, He is willing to show us this from His perspective. But only if we let Him!

"Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." (Matt 6:6 The Message)

It is time that we shift our focus from the "I" to Jesus. Only then will we stop barrelling towards our foolish, nightmarish, suicidal ambitions long enough to be filled with heavenly adrenaline and a clear purpose in life.

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" (Heb 12:2-3 The Message)

John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30 NKJV)

P. S. Do you by any chance have any extra gas that you can spare? I ran out, and it's getting pretty hot!

Rob Chaffart

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