With Each Step

“Tucked Away,” ©2018 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

I remember peering out the window of our Dodge Dart, watching all the cars pass us on I-5.  The enormous trucks barreling down the freeway fascinated me.

My mother may have trembled as the trucker’s tail wind caught our vehicle.  She never said.

But I felt no anxiety.  Mom was in the driver’s seat.

It’s amazing what a difference trust makes.  Fast forward a few more years than I’ll ever admit… and picture my teaching our son to drive…

Yup. On this occasion, “Mom” was obviously in the passenger seat.

“Stop, stop, stop,” I cried, slamming my foot nearly through the floor board.

“Mom…  I got it, ” my then-a-teen protested.

Heavy traffic on a Friday afternoon plus the two stop signs he’d slightly overshot did little to buoy my confidence.

Don’t even get me started on “Mr. Indianapolis 500” who tailed us on the narrow, windy, shoulder-less road.  I held my breath and gripped my seat.

White knuckles.

Even so, my son successfully slid in behind the other cars at the stop light.

It’s amazing what a difference trust makes.

You betcha.  It truly matters who’s in the driver’s seat. After all, you can never predict what’s around the next bend.

Sigh. Sometimes I wish that I had a panoramic view of life.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you and I could see and prepare for every eventuality?

Of course, I’d scramble to avoid all the “bad” bits. Without a doubt, I’d cut out the heavy traffic and narrow mountain roads.

Give me an easy, 8-lane, desert, freeway cruise–a straightaway that gives me a clear shot for miles.

Quite honestly, at times, I’ve yelled, “Stop, stop… I want out of the car…Lemme walk home.”

More times than I can count.

Yes, when I started this journey, I had no idea what obstacles awaited.

But come to think of it, perhaps it was better not to know. I’m not sure how I would have responded had I known all that was ahead of me.

Quite honestly, throughout my life, I’ve yelled, “Stop, stop… I want out of the car…Lemme walk home.”

Maybe, it’s best to simply sit back and enjoy the ride– safely in the back seat of my heavenly Father’s “Dodge Dart.”

Uh, huh. That’s grace for you.

I imagine that when Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew, they felt  childlike excitement.   Jesus was going places, and they were happy to ride piggy-back.

And at first, following Him was relatively easy.  While they gave up their steady employment as fishermen, they exchanged their mundane lives for a grand adventure. They studied and learned under the “rabbi of the hour.”

Jesus amassed an enormous following.  He turned water into wine; fed five thousand with five loaves and two fish; and healed every disease.

He taught with authority, and loved the ordinary as well as the outcast.  I suspect it was truly refreshing for a couple of fisherman to be singled out by the Messiah.

But they didn’t know what following Him would ultimately mean.

Fortunately for all of us, grace builds faith gradually.  Abba doesn’t throw us into the deep end.  He doesn’t ask us to navigate the sheer cliffs of the Amalfi coast line without first mastering the quiet boulevard in our hometown.

And so it was for Peter and Andrew.  It all started with a simple “Come and see Jesus.”

I doubt they fully understood what Jesus meant when He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Nevertheless, as Andrew clearly said to Simon Peter, they believed,” We have found the Messiah,” (John 1:41).

Fortunately for all of us, Grace builds faith gradually.

With each day’s discipleship, they grew to know and trust Him better.  With each miracle, their confidence grew.  Their early walk filled with joy.  They delighted in the presence of the Son of God.

Isn’t that just the way it is when we first come to know Him?  Gently, He leads us.  He nudges us along, encouraging us as we take baby steps of faith.

But as the journey with Christ extends from days into years, the path often grows more difficult.

And as faith requires more commitment and even brings moments of confusion along uncertain paths, some Christ followers drift away.

That has always been the case.

Even Judas, one of the twelve, lost confidence as the tide of popularity began to turn…

Yet, as the path gradually grows narrower and then, begins to wind up the mountain,  genuine faith clings to Christ (Matthew 10:22).  Granted, at times, authentic faith hangs on with white knuckles. But hang on, it does.

After many followers had withdrawn, Jesus asked the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

Peter’s response sums it up, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life,” (John 6:66-67).

The journey had begun on a sunny fishing day, but in time, storm clouds gathered.

Abba doesn’t promise a wide open, thoroughfare.

Would the disciples have followed had they known where the journey would lead?

Well, to be quite frank, I  don’t think they were ready for the cross that first day on the beach when Jesus called, “Follow me.”

When we first come to know Jesus, He gently leads us.

However, as Jesus spent more and more time with them and as they came to trust and love Him more, He began to hint of things that were to come.

And despite three years of daily discipleship, most of them hid in fear when the Sanhedrin put Jesus on trial.  On that Passover Eve, only Peter and John dared to stand in the shadows and observe the religious court.

That mountain climb to Calvary was fraught with peril–so much so that even the courageous and devoted Peter stumbled.

However, the disciples found hope in  Christ’s resurrection.  In fact, with Christ’s appearing, they stood on a mountaintop.

True, we now know that they would further encounter valleys of trial and suffering.   But instead of describing the gory specifics of persecution and martyrdom, Jesus gave them light just enough for the next step.

Jesus commanded them with a promise, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…and lo’ I am with you always…” (Matthew 28: 19-20).

That rag-tag bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor… all were commissioned with an extraordinary task.

Later, when they stood before the Jewish religious leaders as had their Savior, they likely remembered Christ’s comforting words, “And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit,” (Mark 13:11).

His light illuminated the path just when they needed direction most.

Not a moment sooner.

We, too, may discover that the road to Abba’s house becomes increasingly difficult, despite the breathtaking mountain top views.

Yet, Grace guides us step-by-step.  His Word is a “lamp” for our paths (Psalm 119:105).

His light illuminates the path just when we need direction most.

We may not have a panorama view of our future, but we can trust Abba because even in the precarious passages because ” …the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials…” (2 Peter 2:9).

So, once again,  you and I will choose to trust the Sovereign Shepherd.  He knows the way.  We’re safe in the back seat of our Heavenly Father’s chariot.

Truly.  Knowing that Abba is in the driver’s seat makes all the difference.

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” ~John 14:26-27