I had a puzzle lay itself out for me the other night at Bible study. We are currently working on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and we had hit the chapter entitled "Trust: The Bridge to Joy". It was a difficult discussion, with admissions of roadblocks, hindrances and hobbled aspirations.
One of my childhood fears has been bridges. I bear a physical scar from taking a plunge off a mountain footbridge head first. I had trusted the man-made railing and leaned heavy as I was antagonizing my cousins below. They were catching minnows in the rocky pools. In one moment, the railing gave way and I landed in the creek.
Seventeen stitches later I said goodbye to the enjoyment a bridge could bring.
Later years brought anxiety and stress in a simple drive over causeways, suspension bridges and even lookouts on mountain ranges. My knees would go rubbery just getting near the edge. That sense of falling was at the back of my throat, waiting to squeal.
During the study another memory came forward...Gym class and the balance beam. It actually made me look forward to PE. I loved to walk the narrow plank and in remembering, that old fear tried to shout it down.
How could a young girl who had no trust of bridges walk on a narrow piece of wood? My memories were pure delight in jumping on that beam, perching, learning a twirl or leaping. How was that possible?
The thing that I learned about a balance beam is that your eyes need to stay focused at the end of the beam--the end of the walk. If you looked on either side, or your feet, you would start a domino effect and the flapping of arms and a flailing dance of balance would begin.
If I could keep my eyes on my destination, with practice, I could do so many things on that one plank bridge.
When I look back and see where I have fallen, many times it was when I trusted in man's railing--my own pride or putting trust in someone who was simply a fallen human.
I remember another from the Bible-Peter. He too stepped out to walk a difficult path. He saw Jesus out on the water and said, "...if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”
And so the walk began with Jesus beckoning. Amazingly Peter walked on water, but there was a storm. And once he started to look at the waves and how high the water was on his feet, he started to sink. You see, Peter took his eyes of his goal: Christ. And he sunk like a rock. In a desperate cry he was able to get some words out and asked Jesus to save him.
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” Matthew 14:31 (MSG)
If I continue my walk--and it is a narrow one--and I keep my eyes on my Goal which is Christ Jesus, then I can do anything on the narrow beam of life.
The puzzle completes itself and there is Joy in that discovery.
People will eventually let you down, they crumble sometimes under pressure and can barely keep their own selves above water. Why not trust in The One who will drop everything and grab your hand and keep you from falling?
Time to leave man's bridge and put one foot in front of the other on that narrow beam. Don't take your eyes off the goal or you will fall. That goal is Christ and He calls you to step out to JOY!
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)