19: A Sign from God

19: A Sign from God

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

A Sign from God

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

~George MacDonald

It was 1985, and I was 18 and away from home all summer. I had landed what I considered to be my first real job—a maid at the biggest hotel in Glacier National Park. I intended to use every day off hiking and otherwise exploring the park. One of the first people I met was a young man of 19 with orange hair and a passion for hiking that almost equaled his passion for the Lord. We hit it off immediately. Rain or shine, we explored trails in Many Glacier Valley whenever we had time off together. In addition to his incredible sense of adventure, I also admired a spiritual maturity that I had never before encountered in someone of that age.

June 10th—third day off (and therefore third hiking day). The plan was “Iceberg Lake for sure,” and then Ptarmigan Lake and Tunnel if we had time—16 miles in all if we made it. Along the first three-mile stretch of trail, one of the things we spoke of was how amazing it would be to stand on a ledge below an overhanging waterfall and watch the water cascade in front of you. And then, there it was, just around the bend, 200-foot Ptarmigan Falls with just such a perfect ledge about two-thirds of the way down.

We agreed that he would “check it out” while I waited on top for the report. Twenty minutes and several snacks later, I began to wonder what was keeping him. I traced back and forth over a quartermile section of trail that made a U-turn around the brim of the falls, but it was heavily wooded and I had a difficult time seeing much of anything in the canyon below. I even climbed down 50 feet or so from the trail in the place I had last seen him disappear, but it was wet and slippery from the fall’s mist and I dared go no farther. About the third time retracing my steps along the trail I finally spotted what I had begun to dread seeing—a pair of boots sticking out on a rock and connected to a half-submerged body, a full head of orange hair flowing with the current.

I knew immediately that he was dead. After a few moments of tears and shock, I gathered up packs and belongings and began the hike back to the ranger station to report the incident. How do you begin a story like that? Rangers apparently determined I was levelheaded enough to be of use on location, so I made the trek back up to the falls with five rangers in rescue gear and a chopper on standby. It wasn’t until about three hours later when I finally returned to the hotel, the news having preceded me, that I broke down and collapsed into the waiting arms of my two very tearful roommates.

Already the next morning I received calls from several people in my home church saying that they were praying for me (amazingly, the news was broadcast over the radio before I even had a chance to call home). And over the course of the next few weeks I encountered some of the greatest acts of kindness from fellow employees (back rubs, special dinners, the offer of extra time off, etc.).

But the story doesn’t end there. Something was still missing. I missed him terribly, but I also knew there was no doubt that he had been ready to meet his Maker. I finally decided that I needed to share this with his parents. I obtained their address, included some pictures I’d taken of the falls and the “rescue,” and wrote a lengthy letter describing their son as the incredibly spiritual person who I knew.

Several weeks passed, and I received a return letter that just floored me. His mom wrote that she had wrestled and wrestled with God over the death of her dear son and just couldn’t come to terms with the possibility of this really, truly being His will. She finally “laid out a fleece” and asked God for ten signs. The first occurred the very next day as they were visiting the gravesite; the shadow of a cross appeared on the hood of their car. She went on to list eight more things that came about during the next few weeks. Number ten was my letter, and it served to answer her most crucial question. Their family had since been overwhelmed with a feeling of acceptance and peace.

It is still amazes me when I think about it. We ask the Lord for signs, or we interpret various events as God speaking to us in signs, but I had never before considered the possibility that God could use ME as a sign to someone else.

~Ann Schotanus Brown

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners