After several minutes of walking, taking different turns to follow what Susie thought was the path, she said with a little quiver in her voice, “Johnny, does it seem like it’s getting darker instead of lighter?”
“Y-y-yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and get scared. Why do you think I’m walking so fast?”
“Maybe we should turn around and go back,” said the quivering voice.
Johnny stopped suddenly and pointed toward his left, “look there’s a clearing over there. Maybe we should go that way.”
Johnny turned to his friend and said, “I thought you knew your way around on this farm. You should be the one giving directions. Are you lost?”
Susie looked around with a puzzled look on her face, “I thought I knew the way. I just don’t remember the woods taking this long to get through. I might be a little confused.”
“Oh great, you’re lost. And if you’re lost I’m lost too. Can you find your way back out of here?”
Trying to sound braver and more confident than she really felt Susie said “Sure, we just go back the way we came.”
“Right, we took so many twists and turns on the way here, I lost track of where we came from. I bet you did too!”
“I think I know what we need to do.”
“So do I, we need to pray. God know where we are and He can keep us safe.”
Susie smiled broadly, “That’s right Johnnie. He can and He will!”
Johnny began, “Lord, you know where we are and how to get us out of here. Please show us the way out.”
Susie joined in, “Yes Jesus, please help us to find our way out.”
They both said together “Amen!”
Johnny then turned and looked all the way around him said with a more determined tone, “Let’s head toward gap in the trees over there. If we can get out of these woods, I’m sure we can get back to the farm house.”
Susie, immediately perked up and said, “Ok Johnny, lead on.”
So off they went. Johnny led and Susie followed closely behind him. After a bit they were walking shoulder to shoulder. Each time one stepped on and snapped a fallen twig or branch they both jumped slightly and moved closer together.
Twenty minutes later at the edge of the forest, the sky had cleared and they found themselves in very bright sunlight standing on an overhang that looked down over the valley that contained Susie’s grandparents farm. They could see the farmhouse and barn in the distance.
“Wow! That sun is bright!” said Johnny, shielding his eyes. “How did we end up all the way over here?”
“I don’t know but I guess we walked farther than we thought. Look! There’s the old pond down there,” said Susie pointing off to her right and her familiar smile returning to her face.
“Wow! Somehow we managed to walk completely around it and end up all the way up here.”
“How do we get down there? I sure don’t want to go back the way we came.”
Johnny then pointed to the right but lower than Susie had, “It looks like there’s a trail over there that might take us down there. All we have to do is to follow this overhang till we get to it.”
Beaming at Johnny, Susie said, “Well? What are we waiting for?”
“I think we need to thank God for getting us out of the forest.”
“That’s right, Johnnie, we do. Let’s do it now.”
Once again they joined in prayer. “Thank you, Lord for bringing us out of the forest. Now help us to get back to the farm safely.” They looked at each other and both said, “Amen!”
So off they went walking along the edge of the overhang and sometimes hanging onto tree branches to keep their balance.
Just as they approached the trail, they realized that they would have to cross a shallow, but wide and mostly frozen over creek to get to it.
After looking at the creek Johnny turned to Susie and said, “Whoa! That looks too wide to jump.”
Susie began craning her neck looking up and downstream to see if there was another spot they could cross. “The underbrush is too thick to try anywhere else. It looks like we have to cross here or go back through the woods.”
Just then Johnny spotted a low branch hanging over the creek. “You know, we might be able to grab that branch and swing across.”
Before Susie could respond, Johnny had jumped up to grab the branch. He got a hold of it and began to swing but couldn’t hold on all the way across. He dropped onto the icy creek bed and his feet immediately began to slide downstream.
Susie watched in horror as Johnny began to fall and reached out to catch him but only succeeded in grabbing his coat pocket. That grip on Johnny pulled her off balance toward the creek bed and she fell toward him.
Soon the two of them were sliding down the iced over creek bed like it was a bobsled course. Johnny was feet first with Susie still gripping his pocket going down headfirst.
They careened downhill at getting faster by the minute, all the time bouncing off of the creek sides until they eventually shot out of the creek bed and across the old pond. At that point, they began spinning around like cartwheels.
They eventually came to a stop near the far side of the creek where they sat up and tried to get their bearings. Johnny was just about to speak up when they heard a familiar voice, “If you two are done with your ice dancing, maybe you’d like a ride back to the house.”
They looked up to see Susie’s Grampa Johnny with his horse drawn wagon at the edge of pond chuckling. Susie and Johnny looked at each other and then they began to laugh too.