Only a short distance from this bridge, over which I’ve passed numerous times through the years, lies the entrance to New Hope Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with a fascinating collection of aged headstones. This is a rustic cemetery and it holds the earthly remains of some of my nearest and dearest.
Too many times, we’ve followed a hearse over this bridge, taking a loved one to their final resting place. Several times, we’ve crossed the bridge to visit the graves of those we’ve not seen in so very long. The last time I was there–the day I took this picture–we were “visiting” Mother.
You’d think this bridge would represent loss to me, would inspire pain, but it doesn’t. Why?
The answer lies in the cemetery’s name–New Hope. Yes, we’ve laid our loved ones to rest here, but I know that in each and every case they were born again and destined for Heaven. For them, and those of us who expectantly wait to see them again, this place offers hope indeed–hope of that new life, true LIFE that will never end–eternal life in the very presence of God, surrounded by those we love so much…HOME.
So this picture shows a path of hope, a man-made construct that bridges the past and that glorious future as we follow the road home.
Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
God taught me the truth of this verse in a way I never would have anticipated, and will never forget.
I was in prayer. I don’t remember what I was praying about, but considering the lesson He gave me, I was probably complaining about not being able to see what was coming down the road. I’m not proud of the fact, but it’s true – I am Tammy Plan-ahead Cardwell and not being able to see what’s over the next hill has been known to drive me nuts.
So there I was, pacing, which I often do when I pray, and God answered me. “Tammy, you don’t have to see the road ahead. You don’t even have to see the next step. I see it all clearly. Trust in Me instead of your own sight, lean on Me instead of your own understanding and I will make your path straight even when you walk in darkness.”
My response was, of course, both brilliant and inspired. “Sir?” Thank God for His patience!
Have you ever felt God smile? I did, then. I could easily sense His loving, understanding amusement. “Close your eyes and walk.”
Now, it’s a scientific fact that one side of a man’s body is dominant over the other. Close your eyes and start walking and, given enough space, you will walk in a circle. I was in our church and didn’t have that much space; I veered and walked into a pew.
“Okay,” He said, “you’ve seen what happens when you walk in your own understanding. Now close your eyes and walk again, but this time listen to Me as you take each step. If you let Me lead you, putting your feet down where I tell you to, I will make your path straight.”
I followed His instructions exactly, though it felt terribly strange. In putting my feet down exactly as He told me to I felt as if I were taking each step wrongly – very wrongly. I had to fight my instincts, literally, every step of the way. He eventually told me to stop and look behind me, to see the path I’d taken. I had gone further this time – taken more steps – and the path I’d walked was as straight as if I’d had my eyes open and a line to follow.
I wish I could say I learned the lesson right then and there. Well, I did, but it seems I have to keep learning it. Just as I had to fight my instincts with every step I took in that walk, I must fight my fleshly instincts with every step in the walk of life. Sometimes it’s hard to trust in the Lord will all my heart, not letting even a small part of it hold back. I must continually remind myself that my own understanding is faulty and can’t be leaned upon – that it will lead me to walk in circles (like the Israelites in the wilderness!). Finally, flesh fights for what it considers its fair share, insisting I acknowledge it in all my ways, rather than Him. Still, I’m making progress, and every once in a while I’ll sense God smile as He says, “Now stop and take a look behind you, and see that I have made your path straight.”
So…no…I do not have to see the road ahead. I can even, as I trust in Him with all my heart, lean not on my own understanding and acknowledge Him in all my ways, walk a straight path through total darkness.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
Trust seems so simple – until God asks us to take a step we don’t understand. We naturally want to see the path ahead, but God doesn’t want us to walk naturally; he wants us to walk supernaturally.
One day, when I was grumbling about not being able to see the path ahead, God taught me a shin-banging lesson. He told me to close my eyes and walk from where I was to a specific spot. I tried, and of course I swerved off course and bumped into something. Then He took me back to the beginning, had me close my eyes again, and told me exactly how to place my foot with each step. It was awkward. It felt all wrong. I was hoping no one would walk in because I knew I looked stupid. But…thanks to His detailed directions, I ended up exactly where He told me to go.
God did exactly the same thing for Gideon in Judges six and seven. From the point at which He had Gideon’s attention and willing obedience, God gave him specific instructions for each step he would take. In Judg 6:25-26, God didn’t merely say, “Sacrifice a bull.” Instead, He told Gideon exactly which bull, precisely how to pull down his father’s altar, and in detail how to sacrifice the bull.
This was only the beginning, of course. God continued to give Gideon detailed directions. Had Gideon chosen to bypass any of them, or fudge on even one, the outcome would not have been the same. Israel may not have received her deliverance.
Nothing great in our Christian walk, outside of a supernatural move of God, comes of itself. It comes as a result of the individual starting out on the right path and taking each and every step along the way exactly as God commands.
One of the responses I received to a One-word Challenge I offered on Facebook, “trust” is a word I couldn’t resist blogging about. I recently finished reading The Complete Jewish Bible, and it tends to use “trust” where most other translations use “faith.” It took me a while to notice it, but there is almost an easier feel when you read “trust God” as opposed to “have faith in God.” Perhaps it’s ridiculous, since they mean the same thing, but it’s true for me. “Trust God” seems easier somehow.
When I think of the word “trust,” I also go pretty directly to my life verse: Prov 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord…” I have broken this passage down repeatedly, looking at it from various angles, yet interestingly enough I’ve never looked up the literal definition of trust before. So today I pulled out my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible to learn more about the Hebrew word.
#982 – batach – a primary root; prop. to hie for refuge [but not so precipitately as 2620]; fig. to trust, be confident or sure:–be bold (confident, secure, sure), careless (one, woman), put confidence, (made to) hope, (put, made to) trust
It’s interesting that it says this trust is not quite like “chacah” (2620), in that the latter word indicates fleeing to protection. Instead, this trust is more about finding our permanent refuge in God, knowing that in His presence we are as safe as a child in his father’s arms. A child riding securely in his father’s arms is confident and sure; he’s bold, secure, and free from care. Having put his trust, as well as his self, in his father’s arms, he has hope that all will be well.
This, then, is the trust our Father wants us to have in Him. He not only wants us to come as little children (Luke 18:17), He wants us to live with Him as little children in this sense, trusting Him so implicitly that we do what He tells us to, all He tells us to, when He tells us to…knowing that, when we do, everything will be all right.