By Sandy Jones
Its official: I would have died on the Oregon Trail. Failed as a pioneer woman.
Apparently in my sleep one night recently I felt something; I woke up as I was flicking a spider off my face. Of course I had to get up and go into the bathroom, where I could turn on the light to be sure he wasn’t still on me and that I hadn’t been bitten.
Getting back in bed, I realized flashlights hadn’t even been invented when the pioneers traveled the Oregon Trail westward from Missouri to Oregon, and if I’d been a pioneer woman, I probably would have died from heart failure!
Hope this made you at least chuckle.
We live near the Oregon Trail, and pioneer life is a frequent topic of discussion. As we travel around Idaho and Oregon, we’ll see the historical markers along the highway and often stop to read up on what happened at these specific locations. Frequently I’m astonished by how rugged the terrain is by these signs, pausing to think about how difficult it had to be in a covered wagon, on horseback, or even on foot.
One of our favorite day trips has been to go to Baker City, Ore. to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, i.e. the Oregon Trail Museum. It can be a real eye opener for anyone who’s never been. The museum is full of authentic covered wagons and buckboards; mannequins clothed in actual garments as mentioned in so many of the pioneers’ diaries; and, yes, even some of those actual diaries where one can read firsthand about these amazing people’s adventures, trials and tribulations.
The variety of pioneer dresses, pants, and shoes (or lack thereof) is fun to see. I can’t imagine walking across the Idaho desert barefoot, but clearly by this point on the trail, some of the travelers had exhausted the footwear they left home with many months before. Vignettes of things they’d had to cast off and leave alongside the trail, for whatever reason, always shock and amaze me. I’m sure the pioneers realized it was better to forget these former belongings and be grateful for what they still had and for the life ahead of them. These people were clearly made of grit and determination!
These images of things left behind remind me of God’s forgiveness. Through His grace we can confess our sins, casting them off, asking for His forgiveness, knowing full well that when we are obedient in confession, He will throw them into the sea of forgetfulness.
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins
underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:19 NIV
Many times I’ve heard statements like, “You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve gone too far. God would never want someone like me.” Or, “He won’t want me back.”
God knew before you were born the choices you’d make, and He still made you – in His image – to be His child. You don’t have to confess to another human being; confess your sins to your Heavenly Father – cast them off, like the pioneers left belongings along the Oregon Trail – knowing the Prince of Peace wants to give you His peace. Trust me, He wants you back – all of you! Just like the father of the prodigal son welcomed the son home, God will welcome you home with open arms!
“… we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” – Luke 15:32 NIV
I was right when I said I’m not tough or strong enough to have survived life as a pioneer woman on the Oregon Trail. Today, I am grateful that through God’s love and forgiveness, His mercy and grace, I don’t have to be tough, strong, or in any way perfect. I’m grateful for the life I have, and I’m looking forward to the life ahead.
Until next time….
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