"Did you hear that?"
"Yeah," my friend responded. "I think so."
We stood stock-still, straining to hear the sound again.
The sun was setting over one of the most breathtaking scenes imaginable. We were just below the Wenatchee Guard Station standing on a basalt spine in the Umatilla National Forest. The gulf below us broke away with a steep, unforgiving drop into the Menatchee drainage, three miles below.
Then came the cry again. This time we clearly heard the word, "Help!"
With darkness falling, we scrambled a hundred yards down the rocky face, yelling out, "Come uphill toward us, and we'll work our way to you."
Finally, we saw a dim figure struggling uphill. We clambered down to the next ribbon of rock face, calling out encouragement, telling the man not to give up. Just as the light faded, we met him, hearing his story as he drank big gulps from our water bottles.
He had dropped off the unfamiliar terrain earlier that day. Not paying attention, time had flown by as he kept skidding and sliding downhill with his inadequate water supply drying up. By late afternoon, he was disoriented and dehydrated and had more than 2,000 feet of tough climbing ahead of him. Traversing the mountainside, he began to weaken -- and panic -- the vast wilderness swallowing up his feeble yells.
"Voices crying in the wilderness" aren't usually popular, well received or accepted by the masses.
John the Baptist was a "voice crying in the wilderness." And while he drew crowds, he must have felt very alone at times. As he sought to speak God's words, he faced a sheer mountain of obstinate religious prejudice, apathy, and entrenched bureaucracy.