Kary Hafen

In the fall of 2016, my husband (Ray) and son (Stephen, who was nine years old) went on an overnight backpacking trip to Red Shirt Lake. Ray’s friend, Mark, and his young sons joined them for the journey. The fathers and sons were excited to be going on an Alaskan adventure. After arriving at their campsite late at night, tents were set up, sleeping bags rolled out and hunger set in.

Stephen decided to eat a chewy chocolate chip granola bar. A few minutes later, he started to complain of an itchy throat, and his lips began to swell. He was having an allergic reaction to the cashews that were in the granola bar. Usually, our family is meticulous about reading labels on certain foods because Stephen has tree nut allergies. Unfortunately, he overlooked that precaution this time.

My husband took a first aid kit out of his pack and gave Stephen a dose of Benadryl to see if that would settle the symptoms. He was also prepared with an epi-pen if needed. Symptoms subsided somewhat, but Stephen’s lips remained swollen. A pleading prayer was offered, and then Ray asked Stephen what he felt they should do; stay or go. Stephen thought it would be best to go. Choosing to go would mean that they would hike back out (in the dark) the three miles to the car, then drive home or get medical attention if necessary.

Even though it was almost midnight, Stephen and Ray had to act in faith and take the first step in the dark. Fortunately, Mark had a headlamp in his pack. He gave it to Stephen so that he would have light to find his way down the path. Stephen and Ray relied on that little light to lead them safely through the wilderness to help them find their way back home.

With two miles left to go, the light went out! The headlamp battery had died, but the Lord’s light provided comfort and direction as they moved forward along the darkened path. Stephen received strength to continue as he stumbled over roots and rocks with his father in front, and his Heavenly Father right behind him. They had to rely on the Lord to lead them along.

Similarly, we are striving to find our way back to our heavenly home. Jesus Christ promises: “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Currently, darkness has dimmed some light in the world. Hurting hearts need healing from pandemic pains, racism riots, and financial failures. “The best path for healing is to understand and accept that darkness exists—but not to dwell there,” testifies Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Moving out of darkness requires both choice and effort. Uchtdorf continues, “Spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch. It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the light of Christ. Start where you are. Turn your heart toward the Lord. Walk in the Light.”

Remember my son’s allergic reaction on Red Shirt Lake trail? He could have stayed sitting in darkness and danger. But instead, he, along with his father, started where they were. Necessary medicine was given. Then, they turned their hearts to the Lord and offered a prayer of faith. A headlamp allowed Stephen and his dad to walk in the light and return safely home. Even though the headlamp went out, the Lord’s light led them along. Fortunately, Stephen had a full recovery that night at home and happily hiked back out the next morning to get his camping gear and spend time with his friends.

If your light has been dimmed recently by current events, hold on to hope that such darkness will lift. Let the Lord’s light lead you on your path back home. “Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and engenders enduring peace and joy,” testifies David A. Bednar, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kary Hafen has lived in Wasilla for 12 years. She enjoys running, hiking, singing, and baking cookies. Kary is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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