“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… do not worry about tomorrow…each day has enough trouble if its own.”
Matthew 6:25, 34
Over thirty years ago when my daughter was in elementary school, I served as her Girl Scout troop leader for several years. I had been roped into this by the lack of an available troop for her to join, and after a bit of urging on her part, I reluctantly agreed to fill the gap. Not being a natural lover of camping (I much prefer hotels and B&B’s), I dreaded when the time came to take 20 city kids out into the woods for their first overnight camping trip. I had help, but still…
When the time finally came, things went haltingly well. We arrived at the campsite and, as I had been taught in my camping training sessions for leaders, the first thing we did was to clean out the latrine. We were of course extremely careful to eliminate all spiders and other frightening critters, and then hung a lamp on the outhouse so that we might be able to locate it later when it got dark.
After many hours of activities, cooking our supper on the campfire, lots of silliness, singing and s’mores, it was time to try to get the girls to sleep. This was, predictably, a difficult task, but by about 1:00 AM, things seemed to be quieting down, and I thought I might actually be able to get in a few hours of sleep.
Just then, I heard one of the girls whispering my name: “Mrs. R., I need to go pee, and everyone else is sleeping!” Our policy was that the girls needed to take a buddy with them when they went to the latrine, so I realized that I was elected. I crawled out of my sleeping bag and whispered to Brenda that I would go with her.
We stepped outside with our flashlights, and Brenda said fearfully, “It’s so dark out here!” Being a city kid unused to a night environment without street lights, she was clearly intimidated as she shone her little flashlight into the dark woods which lay between us and that latrine lantern.
Wanting very much to calm her fears, I said the first words which came to mind. “Yes, it’s dark, and we only have a little light. If you try to put your flashlight too far ahead of you, your light will be swallowed up by all the darkness, and you might trip on the rocks and roots. But if you put the little circle of light that you have right in front of your feet, you’ll be safe as you go forward, and before you know it, we’ll get to where we need to go.”
The minute I said this, I knew that God had given me these words. And this word picture was a sermon I needed to preach to myself as well as to this little companion of mine!
We like to see ‘way ahead of where we are because that gives us a sense of control over the unknown. Yet God wants something else for us; He wants us to learn to trust Him and lean on Him, so He often gives us only enough light for the next step.
I’ve told this story to many folks over the years, and I remind myself of it frequently too. This learning to trust God’s faithful love, wisdom and provision is a steep learning curve sometimes. I think I need to know what’s ahead because I think that will make me be less fearful. But my loving Father knows that the only way to get where I need to get to – Heaven – is one step at a time. I step into the light I have and He illuminates the next one.
After all, He can see in the dark:
“… even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12 (NIV)