I imagined losing my balance, or stumbling and missing the next tie. Would I break a leg? Would I fall into the river?
Or what if a train came? I imagined the sound of the horn, the light of the engine coming around the bend across the river. I imagined how I would take my pack off and throw it into the river, then jump after it.
How deep was the water?
I could imagine plenty of variations on these scenarios, but all I could do was put a foot on the next tie and let the flashlight show me the way to the next. And the next. And the next. One step at a time.
And I felt suddenly thankful for the flashlight. There would be no way to cross safely without some light.
In that moment, I knew, I knew, I knew the meaning of the Psalm, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
I’d spent the past few years struggling with what it meant to be a Christian and to follow Jesus Christ. I’d grown up in the church and taken on the faith of my parents. But now I was beginning to see that I had to figure out how to live with that faith on my own, or abandon it.
If I continued, I could see that there would be difficulty. In high school I’d lived quietly, a crypto-Christian. I could see the tide of culture flowing quickly away from the Church. If I took a stand, I knew it would make me an easy mark.
Most immediately, an easy mark for ridicule. I’d had a hard enough time in high school without being marked as a Christian. I didn’t want to look foolish.
And I’d heard stories of the martyrs, ancient and modern. If I followed Jesus, I knew that could easily become my own result some day.
Dramatic, right? It was high school. Everything seems more dramatic at that age.
But I was scared to move forward. Scared to take the next step.
Through all the back and forth in my mind, I’d perceived a question rising out of it all.
It wasn’t me asking, either. I knew. God was asking me:
“Do you trust me?”