By Charles Towne 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The forest is vast.

For the unprepared, it presents many dangers. For the unfamiliar, the chance of becoming lost is always a possibility. For the unwary, the terrain, though beautiful to the extreme, is also treacherous. For the foolish–?  Oh well, the foolish are always their own worst enemy. In the wilderness are canyons that can swallow a man and leave no trace. There are mountains that present their own dangers.  One might fall off a cliff to plummet to his death on the rocks far below. Or he could break through a snow bridge and, gravity being what gravity is, he could fall into a crevasse.  Or he could be swept away and buried in an avalanche.  And we cannot forget the rivers, those raging torrents can sweep one away to drown, and be nibbled on by minnows and eaten by crabs.  But then, he isn’t aware of the minnows and crabs because he was after all– dead.

He thought he knew where he was going.

But, he was a man easily distracted. He was not one to waste his time in a lot of careful, and what he considered unnecessary preparation.  Three days into his trek he ran out of water, but he knew there were streams so he was not overly concerned until he realized that the trail he had been following was, in reality, one made by wild animals, and though he had a compass he had never taken the time to learn how to use it, and so—he wandered thirsty, hungry and alone, because he was unprepared, he died.

He hoped he knew where he was going.

He had a compass and a map and he knew how to use them. He was an intelligent man, but one prone to take unnecessary risks.  The day came when, seeing a patch of blackberries at the side of the trail he dropped his pack which contained his map and compass, and he began wandering, picking the delicious fruit.  But, when he turned back he realized the trail was not where it should be!  He was lost.  He wandered aimlessly until he stumbled onto another trail, and he was overjoyed when he saw boot-prints in that trail!   He followed those tracks.  Several days later, at his extreme, starving, thirsty, exhausted, he caught up with the man he had been following lying dead on the trail.  He had been following a dead man. Thus and so, he also died.

He knew where he was going.

He had planned and prepared for his journey. Yes, he had a plan and he possessed all the right equipment, and more important, he knew how to use his tools. He stuck to his plan, and when he did wander off the trail he referred to his map and compass and within a short time, happily, he regained the trail.  He picked blackberries.  He fished, and at night he sat in his camp and ate the blackberries and the fish, and when he slept he dreamed good dreams, and the next day, well rested, he resumed his journey.  He enjoyed the experience, and eventually, sooner than later, he reached his goal and lived a long and happy life guiding others through the wilderness.

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Dear Papa God, thank you so very much for being not only a forever friend but a true master guide, steering us, guiding us, protecting us, through the wilderness of this life and the very valley of death. Work your divine will in us and create in each of us a perfect and willing spirit that one day we will have attained that wondrous goal that you have planned for each of your children. Give each of us a willing and joyful spirit O Holy God. In our Lord’s blessed name we ask this knowing that you will never withhold any good and perfect gift from them that ask it of you, believing, Amen

  2. Charles your prayer is always appropriate to your article and your article is always the product of what you have learned from your lifetime of experience. I enjoy your articles so much, that I believe I have become addicted to your prose. Keep them coming.

  3. Herbert, there is an interesting phenomenon at work here. I write. You read. I wonder where the next article will come from. I trust Papa God to give me that which he wants me to write. He gives me an idea. I write. You read, someone else reads, I am greatly blessed. May our wonderful God, He who gave us His all at Calvary look upon you with favor my dear friend and brother, Chaz

  4. Yes, how true this article is!
    So many people heading the wrong direction and don’t
    even know it.
    Lord, please keep us on track
    with your word and your will.
    Use us in a way that we will
    be transparent and allow your
    light to shine through to help others.Thank you Father, for
    ALL you do for us, all you have done and all you will do. Help
    us to be forever grateful and find ways to pay-it-forward to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen

  5. Dear CSG, I love your prayer. We are because He is! I had gone to bed and He woke me to your comment, so here I am, responding to Him and to your response. praise Him in all things and to all people. There is nothing we should want more than to please Him for in pleasing Him are we most alive. Let us always respond to Papa God’s summons in a way that will inevitably please him, and if it be possible, bring Him joy. Let our lives be radiant with the heat of His grace, mercy, and love. As the sun warms the earth let His very sweet presence in our lives warm and bless all because we have been in his presence. This we ask with the assurance of it being ours because He has promised that He would not withhold any good thing from them that ask it. Amen

  6. Dear NH, yeah, ain’t it the truth? It’s a jungle out there! (Boy, do I ever love the wild places!) What I have discovered in the school of life is that man, without the refining, shining influence of Jesus Christ in his life presents the greatest danger. When I say that I am not referring to religion. because religion, in and of itself, does not change men to their betterment. No, all religion does is makes man intolerant, whereas Jesus brings an element of love, mercy, tolerance, and grace to the table that is life transforming. Bless you dear one, Chaz

  7. We are told that prayer is the key in the hand of faith that unlocks heaven’s storehouse where are treasured all the resources of boundless Omnipotence. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

    It is a jungle out there and if we don’t have a compass and a map ( the Word of God), how can we know where we are going, much less how to get there.

    Thanks again for such good counsel and always love your prayers. It seems that I am right there in God’s throne room with you as you talk to Him!

  8. Linda, wise words from one so young. I am so pleased that you enjoy my scribbles. I hope you and yours are all well and happy. Blessings on you all, Unka Chuck

  9. Once again Chaz, as they say, ” on time and on target”! We all have the tools we need to safely travel if only we remember to use them! Our map looks a lot like a book and our “compass” has been written in our hearts. May we always use them correctly, as intended!

  10. Richard, you are so right. It sort of reminds me of the old man. He said, “I ain’t never been lost, but I been confused and twisted around so bad a few times it took me awhile to find the right trail again?” Yes, that map you speak of I fear is unfamiliar to most folks today that claim they know and understand it, and I fear our compass (moral) is somewhat out of whack. We do have a Holy guide we can always rely on but we must trust Him and then do our part. Thanks pal, and many blessings on you, Chaz

  11. Yeah Richard, and in my own experience I have learned that when I trust to my own strength and wisdom, that is the exact time that I am down and discouraged and the most lost and need a guide the most. A Friend

  12. How should we navigate through life? Well, it helps if we have a good compass and know how to interpret it. For me God’s word is the compass. But, even a good compass can point in all directions! So, how do we find the good paths to follow, with our compass (Bible)? Well, Solomon was thought to be the richest and the wisest man that ever lived, and yet he is given credit for writing the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon had the wealth and position in life to experience anything he wanted. Yet, in the end, he is quoted as saying, in Ecclesiastes 12:8 “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” If you read the book of Ecclesiastes you will find that Solomon’s wealth did not bring him all the happiness he was seeking in life. Solomon’s final conclusion was: Ecclesiastes 12:13-1 “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

    The good path’s to follow, for me, started with the book of Proverbs, Psalms and then reading all of God’s word. In all of this, our Father God will answer our prayers, when we need direction!

  13. I have been so very fortunate having wandered the wild places for much of my life, and yes, even though I never was lost I was a tad confused for a couple of times in the Rockies. I have hiked in the Canadian Rockies, canoed in the Boundary waters of Canada and the Okefenokee swamps of Georgia as well as the Florida Everglades etc. and I still head out “there” every chance I get. God has protected me so many times in my life I have lost track. Praise Him, Chaz


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