The road was against the mountain on the left, but on the right it went down hundreds and hundreds of feet, with nothing to hold a car back from going over the edge. There was only room for one car, but Daddy still hugged the right hand side–more to scare me than because he had to. I sat as close to the door on the side toward the mountain as was possible, hoping to balance the car toward the mountain–just in case. I just knew that any second we would go over the edge, down those hundreds of feet to the ravine at the bottom, and never be heard from again.
Coming back was no less frightening. When Daddy’s business was finished, we would come down much faster than we had gone up. The turns were called “hairpin,” named after the quaint bent piece of thin metal that kept a woman’s hair in place. Daddy used to say it was because you could see the back of your car as your front was going around the curve. Like childbirth pains, you hardly were out of one curve before heading into the next one. Once he saw tire tracks going straight. He stopped the car and we got out, and–huddled together–looked over the edge. There, caught in trees way down the mountain, lay a large truck. Was the driver still alive? Could he have gotten out? We had no way of knowing. Telephones were just being invented, and one had to go into a town to send help.
Daddy wanted to teach me courage, I guess. It didn’t work. To this day West Virginia mountain roads scare me to death. They all had names: Dovel Holler, Piney Ridge, Boone’s Trail. But the narrow, winding roads were nothing compared to the footbridge that connected my Grandma’s house with Daddy’s sister. He would go across, then stand at the end, holding on to the (excuse for) sides. “Come on,” he would say; “you can make it!” I couldn’t. Fear took up residence inside me that made me break out into sweat. It was horrible. I could feel the bridge sway, and trying to stay away from the broken boards as I took a step was a challenge. Without a doubt he thought he was teaching me to trust him. I don’t know why the lessons didn’t take, but when I got older, I transferred the same lack of trust to God. I could have the faith that He had gone to a cross for me, but I didn’t know that He would have my back all the days of my life–even those that I messed up worse than anyone in my family had ever done before.
Somewhere along the line, one has to wrestle with the truth. I am constantly challenged to walk a footbridge with God at the other side saying “Come on, My child, I’m right here.” And I have to decide, if He’s big enough to speak the world into being, out of nothing, and big enough to speak life into existence, is He not big enough to honor His promises to care for me? But look what He let me go through, you say. You’re right. He did not make us puppets on a string, for where would be the quality in a relationship like that? He lets us sin if we choose, even though the consequences will be so big they may choke the life out of us. But He has promised so much more if we try to live as He desires us to. Did you know He will WIDEN THE PATH?
I would have been so much more confident if my daddy had said, “Sit right there while I make this road twice as wide!” Or, “Stay right there while I lay 2x6x8′ boards on this footbridge, so you don’t have to worry!” But he didn’t do that. But God does. II Samuel 22:37 tells me, “You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip!” He is taking care of us, enlarging our paths, so that we don’t have to worry about falling! Awesome thought! The next time I think I cannot walk the path He has for me, like Daddy did, I will try to remember that MY God is capable of widening the path, so that I don’t have to worry about falling off. He just wants my trust, and desires that I know He will be there for me. Recognition of who He really is, and that He still cares for us, is an awesome, amazing, unfathomable concept to process with our finite minds! May we do so with confidence in His promises!
Father, I so often forget to consciously remember that You spoke the world into being, that You healed the sick, released the prisoners, and are still doing so today. Help me to trust You, to remember that You are not a man like us that we can figure out, order around, treat like a genii, but You are the God of the universe Who is trustworthy yet loving, just yet merciful, and waiting for us to call on You. Amen