There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (John 16:12)
Relate: I was absolutely horrified. It was dark, horribly dark, and I was in a strange place. There were lots of trees and stuff and there were things in those trees making noises. Scary noises. I must have been about eight years old, I had been sleeping comfortably in my tent when I woke up in the middle of the night and had to use the bathroom. Normally, for an eight year old boy, that’s no big deal. Just unzip the tent flap, unzip your fly, point away from where you might be walking the next morning, and do your thing. But I had to go number two.
The flashlight I used to get from my tent to the restroom some fifteen miles away (roughly) was one of those things you might buy at the dollar store and then complain that they ripped you off. The way there wasn’t so bad, though. I had an urgency of purpose and there is this huge light outside the bath house to light my way. It was the return trip that scared the living daylights, er nightlights out of me. I was just coming to the edge of the glow from that bathroom light when its bulb suddenly blew. I was enveloped in darkness with nothing but this cheap dim light for protection. For minutes that seemed like hours, or even days, I stood there frozen in spot. There was still an interior light somewhere back there that was casting a glow of refuge. I could head back and just sit in that bathroom all night. Or I could forge ahead into the unknown. But what if I walked past my campsite in the dark? I could end up walking endlessly forward forever lost and alone. (Not really, the camp road was a loop, but who thinks of these things when you are eight, scared, and alone?) There’s also those scary noises to think about. What if one of them decided to come out of the woods to see how tasty I might be?
As I bravely (or not) forged ahead I kept wanting to point my flashlight at every sound or motion I thought I saw ahead. The problem is, every time I pointed that little thing off into the vast unknown, I would trip on some stupid rock or root directly underfoot. Every time I stumbled and tripped I grew more angry, frustrated, and scared. It was a vicious cycle that somehow I had to overcome. I realized that the only way to walk was to keep that light right on where I was stepping and occasionally (every ten steps or so) I would flash it to the side to see if I recognized my campsite. Eventually I did make it back. I’m pretty sure that if I was eight when I left, I was ten by the time I returned. But as I got back into my little tent I did so with complete confidence, a sense of victory, and wondering what on earth I had been so afraid of.
React: How often in life do we feel as though we are walking into the future with a cheap ninety-nine cent flashlight that isn’t worth half that? How often do the questions and the unknowns call out to us like scary noises out of the trees waiting to devour? How often do we wish that God would give us a huge floodlight that would illuminate every step of our future path?
I think that the reason God all too often does not give us that floodlight glimpse is because if we saw what truly was ahead, we would turn around and start running in the opposite direction. The future is scary. If we are walking in the direction God has called us to walk, then there are things up ahead that look impossible. Alone they are impossible. The fact is, if the future ahead of us doesn’t at least frighten us a little bit then we probably aren’t on the road God has called us to walk. Jesus said to His disciples on the way to the garden, “I want to tell you more, but you can’t handle it yet.” Jesus is still telling that to His disciples today. Are we His disciples?
God, I am so grateful that so much of the road ahead is still unknown. Looking back I am so grateful for the roads You have already led me down, but if I were honest, many of them I would have tried to avoid had I known what was coming beforehand. What was true of my past is still true for my future. My life is in Your hands. The road You have called me down is not safe. It is not easy, but it is glorious and it is not walked alone. You are with me.