ok i got it...and ill tell everyone what i did just incase anyone else has this problem.
there is a plate on the side of the transfer case that is connected by 2 bolts. that plate has a hole that the rod for the linkage locks into via a groove in the rod and a plastic grommet in the plate.
i took the plate completely out and lined up the rod and the hole.
then i put the plate against the front drive axle out of the transfer case and used the see-saw theory to pop the rod back into place. once it snapped it it seemed locked so i put the plate back and bolted it back in. took it for a test ride and everything works fine now.