The Path to Northern Gannets

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Salvation

“Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:14 NIV)

We had just left Witless Bay in Southeastern Newfoundland, where we had had the privilege of seeing a pair of humpback whales playing in the water from a distance of about 10 feet; and where we had watched puffins and killiwakes, razor auks and guillemots swimming, diving under water, soaring up over the boat, and nesting on a nearby island. What a beautiful morning it had been! And now, as we drove to Cape St. Mary’s on the other side of the peninsula, we were excited by the prospect of seeing more nesting seabirds-birds whose names we had never even heard before!-at the St. Mary’s Bird Sanctuary.

As we exited the Trans Canada Highway (TCH), however, there was a brief moment of anxiety. We had been in Newfoundland long enough to know that though the TCH was well cared for, the condition of the side roads was anybody’s guess!

But route 100 seemed quite adequate. Though only two lanes wide, if anything, it seemed to be nearly as well cared for as the TCH! And we began to relax.

Then we passed through Argentia. Argentia hosts one of the two Nova Socia/Newfoundland ferry services; and, we were soon to realize, the road we had just traveled was the main road from the ferry to St. Johns. Naturally it was well cared for! But once we were passed the ferry dock, things changed! Dramatically! In fact, it was as if a giant had thrown heavy boulders onto the road and removed them! The potholes were as thick as flies, and much more damaging to our van when we missed and landed in one! And to make matters worse, it seemed that just past Argentia, all the clouds in the sky decided to layer themselves over our road. We could barely see a few meters in front of the hood of the van! This made it even more challenging to avoid the potholes-and incidentally, moose!

Though I am sure my wife regretted her decision to drive this stretch of the road, I, for one, was happy she had! But between jostling out of and around the potholes, trying to search the fog for upcoming traffic, and sometimes, even something as mundane as the middle-of-the-road markers, to say nothing of the moose, is it any wonder that I didn’t feel like taking a nap? In fact, at one point, I questioned our sanity for going on. But knowing how my wife had been looking forward to visiting this particular bird sanctuary for the past 18 months, I wasn’t about to encourage her to turn around. And so I stared out into the fog, which, by now, had the consistency of clam chowder, and wondered if we would EVER arrive at Cape St. Mary’s!

But since no road goes on forever, even foggy, “moosy”, pothole strewn ones, we finally arrived at the turn off. To our horror, we discovered that the road to the conservation area was 17 kilometers long, and only wide enough for one car. Were we surprised that there were no middle-(or side-!) of-the-road markers? To make matters worse, the fog thickened even more, to the point that in places it was impossible to see the road right in front of the nose of the van. Though we tried to stay optimistic, the only positive thing we could think of on that road was that we were thankful we had left our trailer in a campground in St. Johns!

If things could have possibly been made worse, Newfoundlanders seem very much at home on their foggy, bumpy roads. What this would come to mean to us was this: Upcoming cars don’t slow down when passing cars on narrow, foggy roads! And despite the fog, there seemed to be a steady stream of traffic coming from the direction of the conservation area! We would later reflect on this section of the road and marvel that we came through unscathed.

I guess that in the back of our minds, we were all thinking that we would leave the fog behind at the bird sighting areas. But the fog didn’t lift. In fact, it thickened (if possible)! Though the rangers behind the desk seemed unconcerned about the fog (Isn’t it funny how sales people can be so positive when they are trying to sell you something?), we weren’t so optimistic. However, having come all that way at the risk of our lives, we decided to purchase our tickets and stumble our way down the 1.5 kilometre trail to the “invisible” cliffs!

Interesting to note, the interpretation center rented out raincoats and pants. We wondered why, but didn’t bother to ask, and we ventured out. It didn’t take us long for us to discover the reason behind the raincoat rentals! After just two minutes of walking through the foggy murkiness, my glasses (to say nothing of my clothing!) were dripping. Only not with sweat! Now, even if the fog were to clear enough for me to see two meters in front of me, I would STILL be totally blind! And of course, It was quite “reassuring” that signs were posted every few meters warning about the height of the cliffs and the danger of wandering off the path!

There was really only one thing I could do at this point, and it didn’t take me long to “humble” myself enough to do it: “Donovan, I need help!”

“Sure papa,” he replied, slowing down so that I could reach him. “What?”

“Can you lead me down the path? I can’t see anything, and I need to clean my glasses!”

“Sure papa,” came his cheerful reply.

And what a blessing this 11 year-old was! While I cleaned my glasses, he guided me as well as he could-only to repeat the process every two minutes! I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Luke 6:39: “Can a blind man lead a blind man?” (NIV) Can you blame me?

Our destination was a small, unfenced rock, overlooking an amazing sight: a hill crowded with Northern Gannets. Even the fog couldn’t keep us from admiring these unusually beautiful seabirds. The end of the trip was definitely worth all that we had been through to get there! (Of course, our return trip to St. Johns would be another story!)

Isn’t this whole experience just another example of how our world has become? We live on a planet filled with the fog of sin. Potholes spring up on us unaware, trying to lure us onto the path of destruction. Moose-size trials face us daily. The road seems long and dangerous with no hope of that sin-filled fog ever lifting. On our own, we are doomed to disastrous results. We are completely blind and have no idea where the road we are on is taking us.

“Is there a way out of this? Is there anyone out there who could lead us out of this mess?”

Those who were blind (physically and spiritually) in Jesus’ day must have also voiced the same question. Their question was answered by Someone who not only lifted the fog, but also gave them their sight. “(Jesus) gave sight to many who were blind.” (Luke 7:21-22 NIV)

Jesus is the only answer, friends. He is the only One who can lift the mist of sin and lead us to a path filled with hope and anticipation, a road leading to the most amazing sight of all: the love God bestowed on us through His Son Jesus Christ.

Are you tired of the fog of confusion and sin surrounding your existence? Come to Jesus and ask for His help. His path is the only one that leads to the longed for sunshine of eternal bliss. Can you imagine opening your eyes to the unforgettable view of Jesus holding his arms out to you? Why wait? Contemplating Jesus is worth any cost!

But if you choose to NOT choose Jesus, please watch out in your fog for all those potholes and moose!

Rob Chaffart
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries


The Path to Northern Gannets