As I shared two weeks ago, this Lenten season I have decided to take up a discipline as opposed to giving up a distraction. For these next few weeks, the weekly blog entry will be more of a personal reflection on lessons learned in this journey to the cross.
A couple of months ago, when I first decided that my Lenten discipline would be that of "adventure," a friend offered to start hiking with me. In our second venture on some local trails, we wandered and explored until light gave way to dusk. Since he had a good sense of direction and plenty of camping experience, I had simply followed him throughout the afternoon. But now, as the woods quieted and darkened, he stopped and looked in various directions. We had not seen a road or a campground for a while. Fear hit me. Did he not know where we were? Would the GPS on my smartphone work to get us out of here? Why hadn't I just given up coffee for Lent?
After a few seconds of silence, broken only by woods' sounds, he looked at me and said, "Do you trust me?"
No. Yes. No.
"Yes," I finally said.
He walked off the trail and through some high grass, between some logs, and into what seemed like deeper woods. Even though I wasn't sure of where we were or where we were going, I knew that he knew more than I did. So I followed. After what seemed like only a few more yards, we met with pavement. He had led us back to the road.
As we walked back to the the parking lot under a blessed combination of street lights and moon light, I said, "You know, when I said 'Yes," in response to your question back in the woods, there was no question mark after it. But no exclamation point either. Just a period."
Lent is a season when our hesitation meets God's certainty, when our lack of direction leans on God's guidance, when our weaknesses give way to God's strength. As I reflected on this instance of feeling lost, then afraid, then filled with a trust that was somewhere between doubt and enthusiasm, I remembered the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. They could be in love with God at one moment and cursing at him the next. Trust gave way to doubt over the course of just a few verses of Scripture. All of us fall into that trap. Circumstances cause us either to question God or to declare zealously how awesome he is. The trust that I felt in the woods was not just in the human friend but also in the divine Friend who hiked with us. If we can remain unswayed by wrong turns and limited knowledge, we can grow closer to God and one another as we learn to trust --simply trust. Period.
grace, peace, love, and all good things to each of you,