One day, during the winter of 1944-45, I took the sheep about two miles from home, down into a coulee where there was less snow. In the afternoon it began to snow and blow but, being down in the coulee, I didn’t realize how bad it was getting. When I brought the sheep up on top to head for home, the wind was already drifting snow along the ground bad enough that the sheep did not want to face it to head home. The wind was getting stronger and the snow began falling more heavily. I was afraid to leave the sheep in the coulee all night because of coyotes, and for fear that the storm would turn into a blizzard and bury the sheep, drifting over them and suffocating them. I didn’t realize the ordeal that was ahead of me.
It was beginning to get dark. The sheep continually wanted to turn away from the wind and snow but I had to keep them moving. With their continual turning, I was beginning to lose my sense of direction. When I didn’t get home before dark and with the storm growing worse, Esther was really becoming concerned. She put a gas lamp on the table by the window hoping that maybe I would see it.
The sheep dog and my horse were getting so tired that they would hardly respond anymore. I would catch the old ram and using one of the horse’s bridle reins, I would take him far enough ahead that the sheep could still see him and tie him to a small bush, then go back and urge the sheep to go where he was. This was a slow and tedious process.
By now it was really dark, blowing, and very cold. Often, when things get hopeless, even men who don’t know God call out to him for help- and this is what I did. Just then, I thought I saw a light off to one side. It wasn’t in the direction that I thought home should be; I wasn’t even sure that I had seen a light, but it gave me hope, so I kept on moving the sheep in the direction that it appeared to be. Between gusts of wind and snow, I thought I saw it again. I kept moving the sheep in that direction and finally realized it was a steady light. The last few hundred yards when the sheep finally knew where they were, the battle was over.
The whole ordeal lasted for nine hours, from 2 o’clock in the afternoon until 11:30 at night when I finally stumbled home. When Esther and the boys realized I was finally safe at home they ran out to me and cried. It was the lamp in the window that had made the difference. Without that light I would have passed home and may even have perished in the storm. If this had happened, Esther would have been left with two little boys, alone, four miles from any help, with no phone or any way to call for help.
Without my realizing it at the time, God was using all these difficult and dark times to bring us to the end of ourselves and to help us see that Jesus really was our light and our life.