Tim Hoak, a very good friend of mine, has an illustration that he uses to help remind him to trust in Christ's promises when things seem dark. It has to do with steps, and I'm reminded of this often here.
Here it is:
"No matter how many times we go up and down the same steps, if it is dark, we hesitate at the top or bottom because we can't SEE the last step. We don't want to fall, miss a step, or get hurt. We're too used to "walking by sight." But if we've been up and down those steps many times, we know exactly how many steps there are. What else we know is that the number of steps NEVER changes. It's always the same. So, if we start at the top or the bottom and simply count thesteps, we don't have to hesitate, even though we can't see, because we know exactly how many steps there are, and that number has not changed. But we're so used to seeing that we still tend to hesitate. We need to learn to count and trust because the number of steps doesn't change. The darkness is like the difficult things that come into our lives that we don't understand. We just can't see how this or that is going to work out for good. It's just too dark and we find ourselves stumbling around and afraid to move. When those things come, it's time to count the steps. The steps are like the character and promises of God. They never change. When life is dark and it is difficult or even impossible to see, we just have to count the steps – remind ourselves of the promises and character of God because those things NEVER change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever."
I find that I'm walking a LOT more in Serbia than I used to,and going up and down many steps. Our apartment has smooth concrete steps that are fine during the day, but pitch black in the dark. I've counted them often, but hesitate at the last step always. It reminds me, as I think about this analogy, to trust; especially as I'm often afraid to make a move.
I'd like to add something else to this picture lesson. Even when it's not dark and we can see the steps, if we haven't been up and down them before, we need guidance and trust. There are small things I've realized over the past month that I take forgranted. One of them, oddly enough, is "predictably formed concrete steps." Walking back from town to my apartment the other day, I walked across the bridge that spans the Danube River. There were concrete steps, and I started up them and absent-mindedly continued up. I'm used to the fact that formed steps in public are predictable once you get past the first one. That doesn't apply here in Serbia. They might throw in one that's 2 cm higher or lower. I tripped on them pretty badly. I thought of my friend's analogy, and thought how I cannot rely on my own built-in understandings even in broad daylight. I seek the familiar and predictable, to give me a sense of control. This is not where the Lord wants me. He doesn't want me to trust him only in the dark places, but also in the light, and in those tiny moments that I feel good and try to just handle things myself.
So, I'm grateful for Tim's illustration to remind me of this. I feel I'm no longer moving in and out of my comfort zone. It's completely disappeared. Trusting in Christ is all that remains.