Recently, my thoughts have been drifting back to a crisp fall evening several years ago. Earlier that day, I had been in Istanbul, Turkey. I rode across the Greek border in a small van, filled with 10 or so missionaries. During our drive, I couldn’t peel my face away from the window. The winding coastal drive had surpassed my every imagination of all things Mediterranean. On one side of the car, vineyards spilled down the massive mountains, which inspired the mythological tales of old. On the other side, a stunning palette that variegated from gold to turquoise, to cobalt blue as the shore melted into the same sea that carried Paul on most of his journeys.
At dusk, we settled into a camp halfway between Istanbul and Thessaloniki. There was just enough light to see olive trees greeting us at the entrance and a small mess hall where our dinner awaited. We were welcomed by the enthusiastic kisses and hugs of the Greek family that ran the camp. Before we knew it, the sun had said goodnight and our camp (being far away from any major cities) was very dark.
Before we turned in, one of our guides said to a small group of us, “Do you want to see something cool?” He handed us a couple of flashlights. We began to weave our way through the thick trees and bushes of the camp. I had to concentrate carefully on each step and the darkness forbid me to see anything other than the few inches in front of me.
Then, our guide led us to a cliff! There was a rough, winding, stairway nestled inside a stone wall. Though I was anxious and unsure, I began to make my way down the steep steps, concentrating on the narrow ray of light cast in front of me. Step. Step. Step. I still couldn’t see where we were going. Step. Step. Step.
However, when we got to the bottom, I no longer needed my flashlight. Beneath me was white sand, across from me was a glassy sea, and hovering above it all was the most sensational display of stars eradicating the darkness with a brilliant explosion of heavenly light. I had never before (and have never since) seen such an awe-inspiring spread of constellations. I had stumbled upon a romantic encounter between sky and earth. It was such a sacred and heavenly moment; it seems a mere mortal should not have been invited. And yet, I was, thanks to a very dark night, my small flashlight … and one obedient step after another. All the while, the scripture that came to mind was,
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
This is how our spiritual journey can be at times. As much as I would like God to reveal his big plan for my life, my journey is comprised of one small, obedient step at a time. I can’t see the 5-year plan. As much as I’d like to start preparing for the unknowns of my future, they remain unknown. As much as I would like for the Lord to prove upfront that He is faithful, kind, loving, and unfailing, there is no faith or adventure in that. God knows that we grow closer to Him by leaning on Him for every moment and every decision. He promises that there are amazing blessings for those who bravely follow Him, without doubting. We just have to learn to trust our guide and take it … step, by step, by step.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)