Saturday, April 30, 2011

Caving Trip

I wrote this many years ago and just by shear chance found it today... a day of potential future life change. God is mysterious..

It all started Friday night. My brother and I were driving towards the Cave. We left his house in Nashville, LaVerne actually, and drove 45 min out of town. Little by little the city lights faded, and then the 4 lanes turned to 2. Next thing I knew we were on a “2 lane” paved road that only one car could get through at a time. We got there and turned off the radio and slowed way down for fear of waking the locals. We were in deep wood, shoot first ask questions if their still alive, territory. The truck passed 4 homes on the way to the cave spot. Nice, barb wire laced drives with un-welcoming signs posted every where.
The truck pulled to a stop at a small turn around on the side of the road. We were 600ft straight up from the cave. At this point the sun was just starting to fade over the horizon, and a misty haze was settling on the tree tops. We walked, slid, whatever down the side of this mountain to the bottom, careful not to lose the trail. Well, actually there was no trail, just water run off pattern that we followed to the bottom. There, at the bottom, was the mouth of this cave. Only God knew what the next 52 hours would be like.
We sat there for around 15 min. looking at the change in the landscape as the sun diapered and listening to the stream that flowed out of the mouth of the cave. Finally we strapped on our gear, one mag light and one head lamp for each of us; and picked up our bags, my brother with a lap pouch, and myself with a duffel bag. We then went forward into the deep, dark, engulfing hole of the cave.
After walking and being shown like a tourist the outer rim of the cave my brother and I preceded into the deeper parts, the more uncharted parts of this cavern. The amazing sights that I saw, words can’t express. We saw were stalactites and stalagmites met and formed pillars over 40 ft in length. We saw collapsed domes were the loose rock had separated from the more solid granite roof and left layered effects on the ceiling. We saw stones in deep parts of the cave inscribed with names and dates from slaves who were probably hiding out. Then we saw it.
Off to our right was a crawl space, The Devil’s Craw. At the entrance to this craw was a wall of crystals some still in the forming process, some in full form and beauty. We spent some time digging like excavators through the dirt carefully trying to salvage some of these stones. After finding our fill we decided to see where this crawl led.
One thing you get use to in a cave is normally you can come in one way and leave by means of another route. Most caves have numerous exits. So we went down this crawl with no fear. For one the crawl had been marked. In other words there was an arrow with an ‘O’ at one end pointing towards the way out. So we went against the arrow to go in deep and see where this lead to. In order to climb through these crawls we had to leave both packs behind. So armed with our sense of adventure, and our trusty MAG lights and head lamps we began to crawl. We knew we were the first in years to travel this path because of the stalactites that were forming on the roof of the crawl space that would break against our back on the crawl.
After over ½ a mile of a some what open crawl where you could almost dog craw, we were forced to army craw. This continued for another 2 miles or more. Finally we came out an opening into a new cave. We had the time of our life exploring this cave system. We followed the arrows still against the flow to see where they all lead.
First we found the ‘Rain Room’. This room had water seeping in through small cracks in the roof, falling down onto a large slanted rock and then falling to the ground. There was a small cavern behind that you could climb into many different ways, thus actually sitting behind the waterfall watching the water. We then kept exploring.
We found a passage of channels. These were water wash outs. The water had washed away all the rock and then left a small platform on each side, then repeated until you had rows of these platforms around 20 ft high. The width in-between them were only about 1 ft or less at smallest to 2 ft at most. We had to find our way climbing through these channels, sometimes walking on the bottom of the cave, other times the middle and yet other times on top of the channels. Alternating where we were at to maneuver through these things was a chore.
They came out into our ‘Mud Room’. Rocks fallen and covered over with hundreds of years of dust and dirt that created a slick and unsafe stepping ground; one such rock had fallen then to create a bridge between one side and another room. Straddling this ‘bridge’ you could see, or hear, straight down about 20 ft to a stream that was flowing underneath us.
On the other side was another collapsed dome room. This one was definitely the road less traveled. Our arrows ended in these last two rooms abruptly. The dome room was full of rocks that were teetering on edge and could fall at any second. Not the safest room to be in.
So we decided we hadn’t found another way out so let’s go back and leave by way we came. Easier said then done.
We went back to the place we started and couldn’t find our hole. You have to understand; when you are in a real cave there are hundreds of holes and caverns etc... It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. When we came out there were arrows inside and we saw arrows when we came out, but where had that been.
This began our adventure. We spent the next 35 hours or so going through every hole, every crack everything trying to find a way out. Of course sleep was overtaking us, so we finally decided we should find a warm spot and try to rest. Resting was one thing, you close your eyes to pitch black wondering “Lord, will I ever awake again?” Then when you do, you feel the whole effects of hyperthermia. You can hardly move, talk, stand up anything.
So we spent the next 35 trying to sleep 15 min, and then work for 45. When you’re working at climbing rocks you sweet, then when you rest you freeze. It was a vicious and life threatening cycle.
That is when I began to pray. Pray for peace, pray for help, just pray for a way out.
Not too many people can say that they have ever had a time in their life where they knew beyond a shadow that they were going to die, I have. We had both given into the fact that we were going to die down there but that we may as well keep moving and going as long as we possibly could.
Now if you remember, we didn’t have our packs with our food, water, emergency blankets etc. We were licking water off of rocks anything just to wet our throats. Yet through it all there was a peaceful feeling in my soul.
Even when I thought we would surly die, I knew that God was in control. You know that Bible says, ‘ask and it will be given to you’. Do you know how unrealistic that is? If you were to ask for a cheeseburger would you get it? Not unless you were driving to that fast food joint yourself with money in your pocket. It’s the same way with prayer. If we are not in the right line with God our prayers will seem to be un-answered. So how do we get in the right line with God?
I found two things in the dark that made me calm. One was a story of a man at the bottom of a ladder that leads to heaven with Jesus sitting at the top. Jesus looks down and says “Come to me but you can’t use the ladder.” The man sits down and for years does nothing but think through all the worlds’ knowledge of flight, religions, etc… anything that we know on earth to try and figure out how to do this. Finally in utter frustration he throws up his hands and says, “I can’t do it!” At that very second Jesus reached down and says, “That’s IT!!!” and brings him up. The point was, WE are nothing. We are pointless. There is no power in ourselves. Yet, there is a power in God that can move mountains. When we realize that it is not us showing people God, we are to reflect Jesus like the moon reflects the sun. Only then will people be changed. “Not by works that any man should boast…..”
Then the second thing that I found was this: We don’t ask right. Once we have given all to Jesus we then are prepared to ask. What does the Bible say…? On one part it says “Ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ..” We can’t go near God. We have no right to ask anything of God. But through the High priest and Mediator of Jesus Christ who we can “hide” behind to go to the father we can ask all things.
I thought of these while in the cave that we thought was our tomb. AT one point I looked at my brother who had told me this ladder story a while ago and said it was time. The funny thing looking back was, I know now that I was crouching down just 2 feet to the right of our exit hole. Isn’t that ironic of God to say, YOU IDIOT!!! You keep stumbling over it but in your frail, week, tired state you can’t even see it! Give it to me and let ME show you how to get out that way you can glorify ME not your own findings. So that next time when we went to rest for 5 min, I kept repeating “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ show us the way out”. Over and over. Within 2 hours we found our hole.
At one point when I was praying down there, my brother looked at me and said, “You realize that greater people then us have asked for a miracle and not gotten one.” So why did God chose to hear our prayers? Why did we have to go through 52 hours of torture and pain? I mean we were so sore we couldn’t hardly walk for a day. I dislocated my sholder, my brother cracked a rib. We both are saved and are right with God, but yet he still saw fit to change us more.
The one thing I know it this:
When life has you down just think, I am ALIVE!! I know I will. Because I have seen death, I have felt its talons gripping my life. I have watched as the life was drained from my body.
I once was dead, by now I am resurrected. To what reason or purpose is for God to know and to reveal to me in his time. Until then I will tell the world of Him, and the mighty, marvelous, and miraculous power or PRAYER!!!

No comments: