By FR. SCOTT GARRETT
Editor’s note: The following column is adapted from a recent column by Father Scott Garrett, who serves as an Alaskan bush pilot priest in Dillingham, King Salmon, Naknek and surrounding fishing communities in Bristol Bay.
What started out to be a nice 4.5-mile hike out into the Alaskan wilderness this month turned out to be a seven-mile nightmare. I had a GPS flag on my Garmin Pilot App of Mariano’s cabin. Within the first half hour I lost the path for eight hours and started to panic. I almost drowned in a sinkhole. I finally climbed out of the tundra swamps and came upon a four-wheeler path. God had helped me find the path again, but I didn’t trust it. My GPS told me to turn off and cut down through the tundra again. I finally called for help. Come to find out, the GPS coordinate was off by three ridges.
When I started out on my hike, I knew I could do it, no problem. I was arrogant. Mariano had told me that in the mid 1970’s, Father Carl Abel had walked out to the cabin and stayed a week. I told Mariano, “If he could do it, I could do it.”
WE ALL FALL INTO THE WATER
Well, I have news for you: we fall short sometimes. Humans are not able to walk on water. Saint Peter definitely lacked trust and fell in the water. We fall into the water when we choose wrong, instead of right. When we lack faith and trust. When we are not focused on Jesus.
LESSON 1: PRIDE AND TRUST
From being lost, the first lesson I learned was to trust more in God, instead of something manmade. It caused me to veer off the beaten trail, even after Mariano assured, “Stay on the trail Father Scott, you can’t miss the cabin.” However, there were numerous forks in the trail, and I kept choosing the wrong fork. Eventually, there was no trail. I was too proud to turn around — after all, I had the GPS.
LESSON 2: ZEAL IS GRACE
The second lesson I learned was that my zeal for the Lord saved me. I remained upbeat and positive because I knew God was with me. Zeal for God is a wonderful thing. It keeps you from giving up. Zeal for God helped me to stay focused on Jesus and be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit was telling me I needed help. The hardest thing I did was to ask for help. Because of my zeal for God, I made the call.
WHAT IS ZEAL
Elijah was stuck in the first reading and he said, “I have been most zealous for the Lord.” A zealous feeling is a feeling of being on fire with the love of God. Galatians tells us that zeal is a Christian grace. It must be grounded on right principles. Zealous people are humble people who remain open to God’s love even when things go wrong.
WHEN I FALL IN THE WATER
When I fell in the water, it helped me to refocus on Jesus, instead of myself. It reminded me to be zealous for the Lord. By being zealous, I trusted more, prayed more and was able to keep the faith.
This week, first ask yourselves, “What are the GPS’s in your life that cause you to stray from the right path? Possessions? Internet? Pride? Laziness? Second, think of ways to remain zealous for the lord so you can overcome those GPS’s. Your zeal for the Lord will get you back on track.