Every now and again God gifts me a lived-out experience of an abstract concept within his word. We recently had one of those times, and I am still learning from it. Mostly I have been realising afresh that following Jesus means that the step of obedience is the one just in front of me that I can see. I am learning to take one step at a time, and to have faith that the one beyond will reveal itself as I take that step. Here’s the story:
The wedding party was over but still a few of us lingered, and so the bride and groom led us smilingly into the dark summer’s night. Each of us held a small lantern, a candle glowing and flickering within, and each of us tucked a log under our arm, carrying our share of the load for the beach campfire.
As we left the street and found our way onto the rough footpath, we fell into single file as the grasses rose high on either side. Away from the streetlights and into the dark we went. The lanterns soon became the sole light to guide us by, only casting enough of a glow to illuminate our feet and the heels of the person in front. Distant voices at the front of the line called encouragement and direction, but their words were lost on the gentle wind and in the swish of the high grass. Voices from behind joked and teased, wondering if anyone knew where the beach was. Laughter and merry banter trickled up and down the path, and soon we found our rhythm. Those ahead would call out warnings to those just behind:
– watch this wee rabbit hole – there’s a big hummock of grass – mind this drop coming up – here, take my hand – this patch here is a bit slippery – take it easy here – you’ll be fine if you follow me –
And each in our turn would pass the guidance, the direction, the call for caution, to the one behind, each in our turn leading where the next would follow.
The lamplight burned low and the vast wetland before the beach stretched blackly all around. The night had reduced all to deep blues and the indefinable colours that light’s absence can create. We only knew who to follow, we only knew that the next step to take was the one we could see, right before us.
As the candles became dim we joked nervously about finding our way home once the sun rose again.
As the candles became dim we muttered, wondering when this had seemed like a good idea.
As the candles became dim we grew uncertain of our footing. Who was it leading us? Could we really trust them? Did they really know where they were going? Because we couldn’t see more than our toes, we couldn’t….
…and then I stumbled, foolish and distracted. I stumbled when I stopped looking, and the ground and my feet lost contact with each other, and I lost contact with the feet in front of me, and I lost contact with… and then I was up. Laughing again at my own foolishness, suddenly resolute, I paid attention.
Somewhere along the way grassland turned into sandy dunes of marram grass and then there it was.
The sea, there, waiting for us. Just where it had always been, suddenly obvious. Suddenly the route made sense and with relief we cheered and joked. Of course, of course we’d made it.
We lit the fire, we threw our carefully carried logs on and, with the shared joy of passing a shared test, we smiled at each other across the flames.
P.S. If you like what you see here, then you can find more reflections from a variety of voices in our home church congregation by clicking here.