Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… Proverbs 3:5
I often find that God teaches me through circumstances. I do trust him, and he’s faithfully guided me all my cognitive years, but still I sometimes wish he would just give me a brief outline of his plan prior to launch. I know trust is based on our relationship with a God who has never failed us, but it would be so much easier if he would confer with us on logistics.
This past week I was scheduled to be part of a team leading a retreat for missionaries in Guatemala. Our theme was “Trust,” and we’d all planned our presentations. Our airfares were booked and paid, our accommodations were reserved, and we were ready to go. And then the excruciating pain in my foot (a stress fracture) alerted me that I WOULD NOT be part of the retreat. Instead, I was the one assigned to retreat, rest, and listen.
That had not been part of the plan, and I was not consulted prior to packing or preparing my talks. When the ER doctor confirmed that my team would leave without me, I was relegated to immobility, rest, and listening. I was reminded that understanding typically occurs after the fact—when we’re quiet and when we’re open to God’s wisdom.
I remembered an event that occurred during my last annual church council meeting, which could have had severe consequences. We were doing a dramatic presentation of the Woman at the Well for the thousand or so church delegates. All the lights were off in the vast conference hall, and I was standing at a podium with blinding theater lights pointing in my direction. Slowly and as articulately as possible, I read John 4:4-42, a really long passage. When I came to the end of the reading, the lights were abruptly cut off to heighten the effect. What happened next would instruct me…
My task was to make my way across the platform, step down to the next level, and find my chair – in total blackness. (Whose idea was that?) I carefully slid my feet inches at a time, thinking, “What if I fall and the noise disrupts the flow? What if I scream as I break something?” The actress following me in full costume had already begun her part on the far end at the other side of the platform. I mustn’t make a scene.
I continued to slide my feet, carefully inching along the upper platform, wondering if the next step would bring disaster. And then a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed me. An unexpected hand that had anticipated my dilemma and was there waiting for me. Santos (Saint, his real name) knew I couldn’t see and had moved to the edge of the step to help me and to keep me from falling. I could feel his strong grip, and I could sense his warm smile.
And that’s just what Jesus is like—knowing and anticipating those pitfalls ahead of us but also planning to be there to keep us from injuring ourselves. I hadn’t needed Santos at the podium or on the long slide across the floor. But he was there just at the right time, and he kept me from falling.
Father, sometimes I complain about your ways, but I ask that you continue to strengthen my faith and teach me to trust in you—however you choose to do it. You’ve saved me so many times, and you’ve promised to continue. In fact, you said you “[are] able to keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before [your] glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 1:24). Your promise is enough. AMEN.