As if daily existence isn’t a puzzle enough, I decided to test myself by going into a corn maze. Doing this during the day would have been too easy, so she and I opted for an after sunset challenge with a flashlight.
There are two things I’m very aware of that don’t always work in my favor. My sense of direction, even as simple as left or right, can suddenly betray me without warning. And my aversion to feeling trapped. That one takes precedence over the other.
One time while wearing a long winter jacket that went to my calves, my zipper got stuck midway, trapping me in like a physical restraint. With minimal mobility, panic was quickly my friend. This was in the middle of a busy mall in the winter, where the heat index was at least 100 degrees.
When I realized I could not escape easily, I frantically started jumping in place because it gave me the feeling of accomplishing something. I got one arm free and wrestled the entire thing off to the floor. It felt like years had passed.
Both of my girls stood away from me, laughing, to let it be known they were not associated. They had initially tried to help, but I wouldn’t stop moving long enough, so they gave up. When that type of fear sets in, the outside world becomes a blur.
So realizing my weaknesses, why not go into an enclosed space, in the pitch dark? I figured it would possibly cure some of my irrational, claustrophobic fears.
Before I went on this evening adventure down at the farm, the other thing on my mind was an episode from The Twilight Zone. A bratty kid sends people to a cornfield when he gets offended, and they are never seen or heard from again. Scary segments and scenes from that TV series always seem to pop up in my memory at the most inopportune times.
I affixed my wristband that would help identify my body later when the rescue team would find me. And I grabbed a map.
“The phone number is at the top of that. Are you going to call them if you get lost? I can just see you in a dark corner trying to get help,” she said, laughing.
“If it comes to that, yes,” I said. We all have our security blankets in life.
“It says right here that no profanity is allowed,” she said, pointing to the small print.
“I cannot guarantee that,” I replied.
That had already been the case when I left the house. My map decided to reroute me out of rush hour traffic and felt I would immensely enjoy a ride through massive construction instead. Then, it took me to a water tower and announced I had “arrived”. I had to pull into a parking lot to take my life back.
We stood at the entrance and watched young children filter into the tall corn stalks and the blackness, unafraid. I figured if it got too bad, I would just apply the verse that says: and a little child shall lead them. She clicked on her light to illuminate our way, and as if scripted, the moon came out from behind a cloud to watch.
“I’m going to let a higher power guide me through this,” I said. “And I always have heard to go to the right. If you do that, you will find the answer.”
I followed behind her hooded head as she went into Nancy Drew mode. Every single turn to the right was a dead end or a circle back to where we began. So much for that theory.
We rounded a corner and stumbled into a woman sitting on the ground. Both of us jumped and grabbed each other for protection.
“Sorry. I’m just waiting for my family.”
I was so thankful that this was not an added feature to contend with all along the way. We left her in the corner and carried on.
We slowed down for a second as it seemed we had come to an impasse. To our left, we spotted a tiny, obscure opening. Everyone else seemed to be running past it, but we both had a feeling to sneak through it just to see where it led. We took the path less traveled, and it bought us our freedom.
“Most people aren’t seeing that,” I said to her.
It reminded me of this verse:
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14, NLT)
Behind me, a large group of kids materialized. They had followed us, ditching their parents.
“We did it! Let’s wait here to see how long it takes them.”
You never know who you are influencing by taking a risk, going out on faith, and showing others the way.
We decided to drive to another field not too far away. I ended up on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. We were leaving civilization behind to upgrade to a more prominent attraction. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a UFO hovering over my vehicle.
My right hand was stamped to prove I really had signed up to do this a second time, and we walked to the entrance. The cornstalk walls seemed much closer together, higher and more complicated. But, just like before, she pulled up her hood, clicked on her light, and went back into character straight out of Scooby-Doo.
The decision making was more intense. At one point, we had three openings to choose from, and in the middle of it all, there was a set of stairs that led to a platform. We could see the entire field from there. It was a nice view, but it did absolutely nothing to get us out.
We thought we had it solved but then decided we were not right.
“Did we just go around in one big circle?” I asked.
“I think so,” she said.
We retraced our steps. She thought maybe some of the smaller openings were the key, but it didn’t work that way as I was whipped across the eyes by stalks that led us to a parking lot. My first clue that we had taken a wrong turn was the smell of exhaust.
“This is not the way out, Nancy!” I said, pulling a piece of dried stalk out of my mouth.
She laughed, and we plunged back in. We soon discovered that we had been at the exit earlier, but we hadn’t realized it, second guessed ourselves, and overthought it.
“Why didn’t we just walk out? We were done a long time ago,”
“It didn’t look like the right way.”
It reminded me of this from 2 Corinthians 5:7:
For we walk by faith, not by sight. (ESV)
We can talk ourselves out of a blessing and possibly a miracle just by deciding it doesn’t appear to be a gift from God. We choose to go our own way, and we miss out. Then we spend unnecessary time going in circles wondering why God has forsaken us. Being a victim of circumstances and making excuses are easy habits that keep us stuck.
To move ahead, one has to trust that God is in charge, advancing us forward.
On a cold October night, I made it out alive, became more comfortable in a limited space, expanded my capacity for patience, and was shown once again that while life can be uncertain, it is meant to be amazing.