For we walk by faith, not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7
I walked alone through the dawning day as mist swirled around me. It was not quite light enough to see easily yet, and I was carefully searching for arrows that would tell me I was on the right path. In Galicia, the most western province of Spain, mist is commonplace in the early morning. Eventually the sun causes it to disappear, but the first few hours of my day were generally spent in mist. Particularly when I was walking alone, I was aware that a lack of attention might mean missing a turn off the path and result in getting lost somewhere in the Galician countryside.
Often during these misty mornings my mind would turn to Paul’s words in II Corinthians – we walk by faith, not by sight. This was my theme verse for my journey, and it was literally true for parts of the Camino. There were times I would be walking for a while without seeing an arrow or waymark, but trusting that I was still on the right path. Or there would be places where the arrows seemed to point away from the direction that intuitively seemed right. I learned the hard way to follow the arrows. It takes faith to believe that they are leading to the final destination. We cannot see the whole scope of the journey in one view, but we trust that we will get there eventually.
In my personal devotions time about a year and a half ago, I began praying with urgency to know what God’s plans were for my future – not just the immediate next step, but I longed to know EVERYTHING God has planned for the rest of my years on earth. I am without a doubt a planner. I want to be prepared and equipped. I wanted to know ALL the good things God wants me to do, and what the timeline is for them.
The image I kept receiving from God was of the Good Shepherd leading me, one step at a time, up a rocky mountainside. The way was difficult, and I couldn’t look up from the path too much as I was walking, because I had to be concerned with where my feet were at present. The path was winding, and I couldn’t actually see where it was heading beyond the next curve. Plus the Good Shepherd was in front of me, and he was kind of blocking the view.
This was an image that kept returning to my mind throughout my journey this summer. It probably helped that I was actually climbing rocky mountainsides, but I also couldn’t help but think, if I had actually known, at the beginning of the trip, what the whole thing would be like, I wouldn’t have started. I would have given up before I began. Sometimes I think God purposely does NOT reveal everything to us. Walking by faith instead of sight is not a task given to us by a mean-spirited God, but by a heavenly Father who has our best interests at heart as he continues the sanctifying work in our lives. If we knew all the experiences that lay ahead, all the challenges, all the difficulties, would we dare continue?
God has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Even though we cannot see the whole scope of God’s work, we rest in God’s faithfulness.
Even when we do not know how our work will be used in the Kingdom of God, we will persist in believing that God has good works for us to do, planned long ago. Even when we do not see the changes happening in the hearts of our students, we will remain confident that the Holy Spirit is at work in each of them. Even though sometimes, the way God is leading us seems to be the opposite of the direction we should be going, we follow in faith.
God’s faithfulness in the past gives us faith today for the promises of tomorrow.
So we step out in faith, knowing that we are being created anew in Christ Jesus, knowing that long ago he planned good things for us to do, and he will faithfully lead us to those things.