It has been an exciting month and a half getting adjusted to life in my new place. Learning where to get my essentials, where to pay bills, and how to get there (short cuts and long).
There was one particular short cut someone taught me that, at first, didn’t seem to be worth the effort. My friend called it the “small tunnel,” and it is really small. It takes only one vehicle at a time.
Going through that tunnel was so stressful to me (I kept thinking I would lose a side mirror or worse) that I said I would never pass there again. My friend told me I just might change my mind when the traffic built up.
She was right. I have to go to that part of town quite often, because most everything can be found that side. And since there has been some construction adding on to the regular traffic, it cuts a whole lot of time and aggravation to pass through the stressful small tunnel.
Our small tunnel doesn’t really compare to the river crossings I go through on the other side of the city for ministry. For a while, my route was pretty fixed. I passed the long way when I had to go by myself, because it brought me over the river by a bridge, and on to the site by walking down a hill. It was a difficult walk, but it was more reliable than the unpredictable river.
During rainy season, that way gets muddy and slippery. Thankfully, some residents built a bridge of stones and bamboo, so people could pass through the river with some ease (good sense of balance required).
Recently, the waters have risen, and the current has gotten strong enough to carry the bridge away. It called for some days of crossing by a boat (with some holes that let the water in), or, if the water was calm and low enough, by foot.
So you see, my small tunnel didn’t really compare at all. At least the only variable there would be the number of vehicles passing or waiting at any given time.
It’s my first instinct, when something gets in the way of my comfort, my schedule, or the work I think I should do, to pray that that something would go away. It takes some time to realize that these obstacles, uncertainties, or trials, are exactly what I need, even more than my comfort, or my ministry,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet various trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
What happened to me when I passed through that tunnel, or when I had to change my route to the ministry site? Well first, I saw my anxiety. It was a blessing because it revealed something in my heart that needed to be addressed.
How better to address an issue like this than to pray? And the promise attached to prayer is that the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7)
The way this peace comes upon me, usually, is that my memories of God’s faithfulness in the past kicks into full gear. If God did THAT for me, will he not keep and protect me now?
And when the uncertainty, or trial, is past, it gives me more ammo in that memory bank of mine. I have more things to remember when I go through even more uncertainty, or trials… because, really, life will throw you curve balls, no matter how comfortable you are at the moment.
You know how, during earthquake drills, people tell you to drop, cover, and hold? Today, my note to self when I experience anxiety is: pray, remember and stand fast. Stand fast on the promises of the God who never fails.
Remind us today, O God, of your immutable character, and your wonderful works in the past, that we may stand fast through trial and come forth from it as gold.