Stepping Out in Faith
by Lela Markham
The other day I was explaining to someone how the process of a discovery writer works for me. I don’t often know where the characters are going to take the story until we get there. I sometimes know the broad strokes. So, for example, I might know that a character will live to the end of the series, but I don’t know how she plans to escape the vengeful Celtic goddess who is bent on her destruction even as I write. I am as surprised when I write it as I hope my readers will be when they read it.
That has spiritual significance. God does know the ending and even the twists and turns of our lives before we do. He’s omniscient. We, however, don’t. If we’re Christians, we know the end of the story … we will enter into His kingdom in the fullness of His grace and it will be nothing but good. But we aren’t told what the next five minutes holds or even our physical life’s ending. We are expected to take it on faith that God has only good in store for us.
“For I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
There’s a cabin in the Alaska wilderness that my husband and I have hiked to a few times. Built by a friend of ours, it is accessed by a rope bridge across a turbulent and icy-cold river. During some parts of the summer, you could cross at the ford, but it’s safer and warmer to take the bridge … and crossing the bridge is a total act of faith.
Imagine three ropes disappearing into the mists. One is the foot path. The other two run parallel about three feet above the footrope. The two upper ropes are connected at intervals to the footrope, but there’s a lot of open territory and a scary drop to a deadly river. Then imagine that you can’t really see the other side because of the fog and even if you could, the anchoring tree is behind other trees, so you’re not even certain it will hold.
We knew our friend crossed it all the time. We trusted him not to want to kill us. But stepping out onto that bridge was a sheer act of faith in our friend’s character and skill.
The other side of that river is a cozy log cabin set in a beautiful glade. Well worth the crossing, but you have to cross it to get the reward. Moreover, you have to walk out on faith that the bridge is properly secured. You’re more than three-quarters of the way across before you can see the attachment and feel like this wasn’t the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.
When I crossed it the first time, a steady wind was blowing that kept jostling the bridge. I tried not to look down into the milk-chocolate froth 20 feet below and tried not to think about what would happen if I slipped and fell carrying a full pack. Swimming is beside the point in a glacial river. You’ll die of hypothermia a long time before you get to the shore. Turned out the best strategy (forged by a half-dozen crossings now) is to stare resolutely as the far shore … or the fog where the far shore ought to be … and put one foot in front of the other until you get there.
That’s so much like the walk God expects us to take through turbulent times and perilous places. We should know He has our best future in view, but it’s still going to be painful if there are mishaps along the way. The future God has prepared for us is worth it, if we only remember that each step gets us a little closer to it …
Lela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelist who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits.
“I don’t seek to be known as a Christian author, but as an author for whom Christ is so central to who I am as a person that He shines through.”