“55. Guys, I’m pretty sure it’s bus 55.”
I led our little motley crew to the “right” bus stop to catch bus 55 to go to Chunxilu for some shopping and relaxing. Finding the right bus and stop wouldn’t be too difficult, right? Probably wouldn’t be if you spoke Chinese. My determination (some call it stubbornness) got the best of me. I was considered to be among the most directionally in-tune so taking charge came easily.
Here it came: Bus 55, supposedly to take us to Chunxilu. We got our seats, ready to get off at the appropriate 4 stops later. Bus goes. Bus goes down the right street. Bus takes an unexpected turn. That’s when I immediately knew: WE’RE ON THE WRONG BUS.
My gut fell and a sense of utterly helplessness engulfed me. I had no idea where we were going and where we would end up. Things were starting to look completely unfamiliar. Being the “leader,” the others looked to me with confused and slightly terrified looks, mirroring how I felt but wouldn’t show. Instead I did what came the most natural to me: I shut completely down. I refused to make a decision, especially with not knowing where I was. All I could do was tell the others to stay on the bus until we knew where we were.
We were lost.
We were lost and I couldn’t fix it.
I was lost. And I shut down.
Lost. This nagging, helpless feeling, having no knowledge of my surroundings, not speaking the language, almost refusing to even budge. This is not unfamiliar, especially as I continue to stumble forward.
My natural reaction to this unrelenting feeling deep in my soul? I shut down. Fear paralyzes, capitalizing on the helplessness, making it hard to keep walking. Stumbling and groping in the darkness with the strongest desire for eyes to adjust and find that light. Restless and scared and indecisive.
But then there is that sliver of light and and solid ground. The light inside, the Hand outstretched in the darkness, and the strong substance on which I can take the next. Just the next step.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
Another reaction after shutting down is the stubbornness to give up and allow no help. But as we were riding still in the bus, eventually the only ones, help came. Help came within our group, a calm spirit, a confident decision to take the next step. Next thing we knew we were standing in the midst of Chunxilu, and none of it was my doing, the supposed “directionally in-tune.”
I had to be led. I had to follow, I had to do so blindly. I had to trust each next step.
Perhaps that is what walking in obedience to God is. Sometimes obedience is making an agonizing decision, taking an agonizing step in the dark, but walking by faith…one faltering step at a time. I have a Solid Rock though.