One of the perks of living in the Philippines are the adventures I get to go on when I have some free time. In America, people can relax by going to a movie, walking around the mall, or this time of year everyone is eating their weight in fried food at the fair.
Here however, the options are a little bit different. Instead of Six Flags or the skate parks, you can hike a mountain, go white water rafting, jump off waterfalls, or my favorite- exploring through caves.
We’ve had a world race team here helping our ministry for the past two weeks. They worked so hard and served our kids so well. So last Friday, on their well-deserved day off, we decided to take them exploring through the cave. I had been once before so I kind of knew what to expect…
Bring your headlamps- its pitch dark inside.
Wear closed toed shoes- you can’t see the rocks and it hurts!
Leave behind anything that can’t get wet- the water gets pretty deep in some areas.
That afternoon, we ate a quick lunch then hiked about 10 minutes and arrived at the opening mouth of the cave. Bats were flying in and back out as our group slowly moved towards the dark hole. One by one we carefully maneuvered our way through sticky bat poop and slid down the entrance of the cave towards the bottom.
Once everyone made it to the bottom, we turned on our headlamps, filed in line one behind the other, and headed straight into the darkness. We separated into 3 groups and each group had a guide in front leading the way.
It wasn’t long before we hit the water. “Deep drop down ahead!” the guide yelled back. I felt around me for a piece of the wall to hold onto and then I shimmied my feet forward until they found the edge. Gently, I dropped my body shoulder deep into the freezing cold water.
The water propelled me forward as I tried to listen for the guide’s voice but the moving water echoed so loud inside the walls of the cave that it was nearly impossible for me to hear him.
I took a few steps forward and then I heard it-a faint voice up ahead. What did he say? I paused for a second. The message got louder and louder as it was passed back from person to person and then finally from Meagan to me-
“Hey there’s a big rock here on the right…watch your step!”
I moved quickly to the left and avoided the rock. Then I turned around to pass the warning back to Jake and Heath.
For over two hours, our group made our way through the cave by doing just that. The guide would find a hole, a tiny crawl space, a deep drop off, or a jagged rock and then he would warn the person behind him who would turn around and warn the person behind them, etc.
Sometimes though, the guide would miss something completely and the only way I knew to avoid a certain spot was by watching Meagan crash down right before me. And other times the only message that got passed back was “OUCH!” and I knew I should probably be careful up ahead…
I left the cave that day thankful for the people in front of me who got banged up and bruised in order to feel the way for the people coming in behind them.
And I think the cave is actually a beautiful picture of how life is supposed to be lived. I think we’re supposed to walk down our own paths and then turn to the people around us and take the time to say “hey, watch your step, there’s a big hole up ahead!”
All of our lives are filled with every day stories just waiting to be told. Messages and warnings that need to be passed along. And we all need a little encouragement sometimes from the people around us to help push us through those tiny “crawl spaces” in life.
I’m so thankful for the people in my life who have done and continue to do that for me. I’m thankful for coffee dates, emails, blogs, and everyday life with people who generously and courageously choose to share their stories.
Because at the end of the day we’re all just trying to make it down the path without falling on our face.
And the more we can hear from the people that have walked before us, the easier it is sometimes to make our way through…