For the most part, the trail along the banks of the Crowe River near Mamora, Ontario, was wide and level, with plenty of ground between the edge of the trail and the edge of the river bank. There were places, however, where the trail narrowed and sloped towards the river, with little solid ground between the slippery gravel and the water below.
Now I have excellent vision and depth perception (praise God!), and according to my husband, I am half mountain goat by nature. As a result, I skipped over these spots without a second thought. He, on the other hand, is legally blind in one eye and has very poor depth perception, and his eyes simply do not see things the way they truly are. As a result, his brain registers false images of what is ahead, and what to me is a simple part of hiking can quickly become a challenge for him. Needless to say, my husband didn’t do quite so well on those narrower, sloping parts of the trail…
As we’ve been married for 34 years, I have come to know when my husband may have vision-related trouble on the trail, and after skipping over the first of these slippery sections that day, I turned around, positioned myself on the edge of the river bank with my body between the trail and the water below, and invited him to cross. I assured him that I was on safe ground and that as long as he stayed between me and the cliff on the other side he would be fine.
The problem was, all his brain could register was his distorted view of the trail, and not only did the spot look perilous, but he panicked thinking I was also in ominous danger. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe me when I told him I was fine, it’s simply that he couldn’t get beyond the lies his eyes were telling him.
It took a bit of coaxing, but he eventually took my offered hand and made his way safely to the other side of that section of trail.
This problem of sight is an inconvenience to him, but I have to admit that I have a far worse “sight” problem. Oh, my physical vision is fine, but when it comes to my spiritual sight, I fail almost every time. I suspect many of you can relate. When our spiritual sight doesn’t see the end result, we tend to have a terrible time putting our trust in God. We understand that He knows best, that He’s all powerful and all wise, but we, as human beings, seem to be programed to need to experience things with our own senses before we believe they are real. It is completely foreign for us to simply believe what our senses cannot perceive.
The Bible, on the other hand, encourages us to not live our lives by what we can ‘see”, but rather, to live them by faith in God: “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NLT). In just the same way that the trail wasn’t at all dangerous from my perspective, God’s view of our lives reveals to Him that we will make it through unscathed; and just as I put myself between my husband and what he perceived to be the dangerous portion of the trail, God puts Himself between us and the perilous portions of our life’s walk. However, in the same way that my husband initially couldn’t move beyond what his eyes were telling him, we often cannot move beyond what our senses tell us, and as a result, we get stuck.
What should we do?
Perhaps we should do what my husband did:
1. He stopped his backwards retreat. In the same way, we need to stop trying to avoid the problems in life, but rather, we need to embrace them for the spiritual growth they can give us: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Rom 5:3-5 NLT).
2. He chose to believe my words of encouragement. God also gives us many words of encouragement, Truths such as: “This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT, see alsoIs. 40:31;43:2;Prov. 18:10,Ps. 31:24, etc.). Our job is to believe in those promises.
3. He took my hand. This is what Jesus is encouraging us to do in Matt. 11:28-30: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT).
4. He decided to trust in me rather than in what His eyes were telling him. In the same way, we need to blindly stumble on through those valleys, ever trusting that where we cannot “see”, we can believe in the One who can: “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NLT).
What will it be? Will we continue to insist on walking by what we physically perceive, or will we put our faith in the fact that where we can’t see, God can? Will we turn back, or will we take God’s hand and allow Him to bring us through unscathed?
The choice is ours to make!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.