Leap of Faith, Leap of Grace

roadYou walk with Jesus, and you seldom see where the road is going. At the end, you know what awaits you—light and glory and the face of your best Friend and no more pain. But the road between the starting place and the finish line is long, and much of it is hidden.

Nevertheless, you walk, for where else would you go, and sometimes you speed up to a run, and sometimes you barely make a step a day. Now and then there are the glorious soaring moments on eagles’ wings. But most days, you walk, and you are never alone.

You see other people walking on roads that seem so different than yours—exalted roads that seem so easy. It is hard, sometimes, to accept your own obscure road, but as you walk you begin to learn that the lessons of that high road are just the same as the lessons of your low road only with much farther to fall. And you learn to be content to faithfully walk your own road, looking not at the roads of others, but at the Savior who leads you.

You walk through dark valleys and balk, perhaps, at the depths and the dark. You look up and can barely see that promised glory, though it is all your hope in the valley. Your Shepherd teaches you to trust, to not be afraid. He comforts you with rod and staff and Presence unspeakable. You begin to see light, here where you thought there was no light, and you become, in some small way, a source of that light to others who see you walk with grace.

You climb high mountains, winding paths that seem purposeless. You wonder whether you’re on the right way, but your Guide provides you with the signs you need to assure you that He is still leading you. His Word becomes a lamp for your feet, a light for your path, and your Friend does not fail to walk beside you.  Patiently He teaches you to walk with patience, to endure, to be faithful to this meandering path. You feel like you are climbing to nowhere, but in the long stretches of wasteland high in the mountains He teaches you to have faith, to look only to Him, to lay aside the sin and weights that make it harder to climb.

You come to altars and learn to lay yourself down, to rickety bridges and learn to not look down, to crosses and learn to take them up. You spend days thirsty, wondering when you will find water, and then laugh for joy at the sound of a secret spring. You search for food in desert places, only to discover that the Living Bread that fully satisfies is walking beside you every day.

You wonder if anyone sees, notices, cares that you are here on this road. Then one day you can hear it in the rhythmic crunching of your feet on the path beneath you—I see you; I know you; I love you. You begin to recognize the voice of truth more clearly, to focus your ears on that quiet voice. You follow as a trusting sheep follows a shepherd.

And then, one day, far in the distance you see something new—a leap. Really, Lord? Is that my path? You freeze in fear. You’re okay with walking, climbing, and maybe even running if the road is smooth and flat and safe. But leaping?

Do you trust Me?

Fearfully, slowly, you put out one foot, then the other. You are not sure you like where this road seems to be going, but you have learned this—there is nowhere else for you but where He is.

The path to the leap is longer than you expected. The climbs are higher, and the plunges into valleys are sudden and steep and scary. You get bogged down in swampy places with no clear way forward. You learn to be content with the tiniest inch of progress a day. You plead for strength, for grace, for all that is promised. Your prayers are always answered, sometimes in unexpected ways. Friends come along and offer a hand just when you thought you could never move again. You are never left alone.

Some days you run toward the leap with joy and excitement. Sometimes you fall flat on your face. Sometimes you try to go a different way, because that leap up there looks pretty impossible. Some days you waste entirely in fear and worry and doubt, until you fall before your Master and cry with brokenness, help my unbelief!

He gives more grace.

And then, you are suddenly there—just a day or two from that leap you’ve been preparing for. No, your Teacher says, I have prepared it for you, for you are My workmanship, created in Me for good works that I prepared for you beforehand. You realize that nothing here surprises Him, that though the landscape seems unfamiliar and though you’re really not sure what’s at the bottom and though those definitely look like stormclouds, nevertheless this is all part of His good plan.

You stand on the edge, and you look searchingly at His face. He is all love and all grace and His eyes dance with His pleasure in you.

Do you trust Me? He asks, holding out His hand.

Yes, you whisper fiercely, taking hold of Him.

And then you jump.

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