I don’t do caves. Most people don’t know this about me, but it is true. They scare me. After seeing the trailer for the movie 127 Hours I decided that I would never voluntarily go into a cave. Well, that didn’t work out so well. So there I sat, on the floor of a cave, pretty close to a panic attack. You see, in addition to caves, I’m not a big fan of spiders or snakes. Apparently, caves attract quite a few of those types of demons. Go figure. Anyway, there I sat. I cried. I took a few deep breaths. And in the back of my mind, the little rebellious me was absolutely SCREAMING at God. He can’t do this to me. He can’t bring me out into the wilderness, put me through bugs and camping and freeze dried meals and all that tents bring to not speak to me and then bring me into a cave. You see, in the six hours of solitude on a rock in the middle of a forest, I didn’t hear a thing from God. I wasn’t exactly resentful of His silence because I knew it was for a reason, but after throwing me in a cave for an hour, I was fuming. How dare He? He can withhold His voice from my life. That’s fine. But testing me and teaching me the hardest thing in my life—trust—is not something He should do while it seems He isn’t speaking to me. But, as I learned, God can speak more in silence than in a loud voice. So when the exit of the cave was a crack in the rock you had to slide and wiggle though, step up and trust the person in front of you to pull you up, even as it seems you will never get out, I was mad. There was a lot of fear, but below that surface there was boiling anger. I did my best to mask it. I looked at the crack in the wall, looked at Derrick, our guide, and decided I could do this. I had to do this. My fears had another idea. Thus my team ended up with me at the front of the line, crying and saying “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” But in that moment, I looked up at Derrick and his outstretched hand and I decided to trust. Trust Derrick. Trust that I could do this. Trust my friends behind me that believed that I would make it. In a move that I am not one hundred percent sure that I was in control of, I reached up and grabbed Derrick’s hand and didn’t let go until I was safely out of that cave. In real time, it probably took less than a minute. In my mind though, it was a lifetime. After I got out of that cave, back to camp and to a private place, I lost my cool. I yelled at God. I told Him that He can’t do what He did. And in that moment, He spoke. It wasn’t loudly or in a way that shook the mountain upon which I stood. It did make an impact though. He said to me “Hannah, today you took a step in learning to trust. I was always with you; you were just too scared to see Me.”


After I picked myself up off the dusty ground, I realized the magnitude of what had happened. Yes, in a way, I was still mad. I had been shaken up past the normal bounds of my comfort zone. This week had stretched me as Trent was rather fond of saying. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am a slave to the comforts of a home, but I would say that I was too comfortable with where I was in life. I also am not planning a spelunking trip any time soon, but in a way I am more comfortable with stretching myself. Job well done to God. I realized quickly that what He was saying to me was that fear so obviously clouds minds and hearts. I was somewhere in the center of God’s will, in a cave in Alabama, in a place I thought that no loving God of the universe should ever have sent me. But He did. Ad I learned from it, moved on, and now I know I can do it. Perhaps my extreme fear of caves has yet to be resolved, but I know next time I am in a situation that reminds me of that cave, I can remember the words that God finally spoke to me. He was always there, I was just too scared to see Him.

Hannah Richards