“Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.”
My father told me to follow the rocky steps across the river where it swirled and raced below the waterfall. He told me to step from rock to rock and I could safely cross. I could see the first few rocks mossy and green beneath my feet but as the river swarmed and the path grew deeper I could no longer see the steps. I could simply feel them out with my toes, sense where they were. Behind me my father called to keep going straight through, until I reached the glistening bank across the water. The river wasn’t so deep after all, it just seemed that way because it was loud and flowed swiftly. But I followed his voice, and touched each rock, and soon I looked back at him and smiled. Safe, and dry, and feeling like I had just conquered the world.
The way forward sometimes means unsure steps, and a path that wobbles. It sometimes means that there is no clear answer, and that there is no solid way to know what kind of shape we will be in when we reach the other side. Will we be bloodied and soaked from the struggle? Or will we glide safely and wonder why were we so afraid in the beginning?
Life is unknown. We can’t know it all. We simply walk across it. Since I came to the mission field I have learned how much I do not know. I don’t know the right solutions, I don’t know the right words to say, I don’t know how to feel and I just don’t know how it will all end up.
Will the addict be freed? Will the woman who was sold for sex as a young girl be able to overcome her past? Will the abandoned child find a way to walk forward in triumph?
Will I survive this?
Do I have what it takes?
Is my faith big?
Is my trusting large enough for this uncertain and unseen path?
It surely is not. I can’t survive alone, and I don’t have enough strength to muster up what it takes. My faith it small and it balances as if on a pin. My toes curl around the mossy rock with the last bit of strength left in me and I look down and forget that I feel the path because the angry river draws my gaze.
Where is God when we cannot find the path? Where is He when we have lost the way? Can He bring us home? The addicted, the wandering, the abandoned, and abused…and yes, even the beaten-up, broken-down, faithless me.
There I am in the middle of the river wondering how I got so far from the bank I left, and wondering how I will ever survive this crossing and stumble onto the other side. I find myself there with the addict to my left, and the lost child to my right, and somewhere just behind the woman who is fighting to be free.
And I tell them I see them, and I tell them God is near to us, although He is not seen. I beckon them to come follow though the river rages, and the fear grips my heart, and my white-knuckled toes hope that this rock won’t topple.
We all walk together toward the bank, we all look eyes ahead, and our Father’s voice calls behind us and tells us just to take the step ahead, just to listen to Him, eyes closed and fearful if we must, but just to listen and to walk ahead.
One day soon we will touch that glistening bank, and we will look back, and see that we crossed on unseen steps through a raging torrent. And we will look back at Him, and together we will smile because we have conquered the world.