Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk by Faith

Last weekend eight students and I went to Camp Loucon for our Spring Retreat. It was awesome, and amazing, and it rocked our world! Woo Hoo!!!! Can you tell I had a great time? It was everything we needed it to be and more. The theme of our weekend was the twenty third Psalm; together we considered the many ways that God shepherds our lives. What I love about God is that He always speaks His message to us in several ways, through many mediums. I especially experienced this when it came time for us to do low elements.

We began our low element activities with our facilitator instructing us to get into pairs, handing out bandanas, and asking a person from each pair to be blindfolded. It was then the responsibility of the “seeing” person to guide the blindfolded one along a path set by our facilitator, using only her or his voice. The guides were not allowed to touch those being led; they could only tell them how to walk the path in their blindness. Sound familiar? Doesn’t it sound like following God’s lead when we cannot see Him or touch Him? I believe it is a perfect metaphor for faith—God, who knows all and sees all, tells us with hints and nudges how to walk through life in our blindness. And while we have the guidance of scripture and the camaraderie of a community of believers, in specific details we can only guess at what our best decisions are: we cannot see the future, we cannot possibly know outcomes or consequences, and we are clueless in regard to the intentions and decisions of others. We’re not even that good at predicting the weather, even though we try really hard.

It can be really disorienting. Like being blindfolded and asked to walk a path that may or may not be on the road. Because we had an odd number, I got paired up with both Derek and Tyler. We each got a turn to be the guide to two blind people and each of us got to be led around in the dark. I would much prefer to be blindfolded any day. Kind of like, I would hate to have God’s job. And both of my guides did a great job! It was so cool to see how each approached the task of guiding their charges to safety. Derek had a keen sense of description. I knew exactly what the terrain was at all times and exactly how best to approach it. Tyler lead with his own feet, making as much noise as he could by scraping and dragging that we always knew where his feet were and could simply follow their sound in addition to his specific vocal cues. I have often said before that the life of faith is like this. As we come to know the Lord, we each develop a language with Him. Thus He speaks to each of us in a way that is unique to the relationship we have with Him. Of course He does this; His loves each of us personally and specifically. What I found with each of my guides is that after a while I could relax; the pattern of our communication, their leading and my following, eventually became almost like sight. Familiarity opened up our trust.

And then we came to a point when Tyler said, “I don’t know what to say. We’re not changing direction or anything. Just keep following the sound of my feet.” And then I started to panic. My first impulse was to scream, “I don’t care what the road is doing, just keep talking!” I couldn’t see after all. I just kept thinking, “Don’t take away your voice too!” But then I found that, in fact, the road was fairly easy, and I didn’t need extra instruction, and the sound of his feet was so reliable I didn’t even need His voice. And then it struck me: “God this is so like you!” Isn’t it? Haven’t you found yourself trying to follow God and He suddenly becomes very quiet? All the ways that you used to sense Him speaking have dried up. The only thing you can do is to go on what you know about Him, and hope it will all turn out alright. And it will. In that moment of my uncertainty and panic it was as if I heard God say to my spirit, “You don’t have to worry when I am silent, Sami. Those are simply the times when my last bit of direction is totally sufficient. Just keep doing what you are doing and trust me to give you new insight when you need it.” In Tyler’s words I heard the sound of my Lord: “We’re not changing direction or anything. Just keep following the sound of My feet.”

This Sunday we will be going to Elizabethtown to share our outreach ministry with the home church of some of our students. One of the songs we are singing this year is “Walk By Faith” by Jeremy Camp. The chorus goes like this: “Oh I will walk by faith, even though I cannot see. Because this broken road prepares Your will for me.” In our walk with Jesus, there will often be times of clarity and brilliant insight, but more often than not, there will be times of guessing and hoping, trusting and blind obeying. It is in those times that our faith grows the most and we develop a keener understanding of Who God is in our lives, and who we are in His. I want to encourage you, dear one. If you are in one of those silent times when your faith is being stretched, know that you are still in God’s sights even when He is not in yours. You can trust Him to get you safely home. And also know, if you were not ready to trust Him more, he never would have led you to where you are now. Be blessed on the path you follow. He is always, and still, shepherding you.

This is me trusting,


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