Trust Walk With God
Back in August I helped lead a retreat for a select group of high school students in the Worcester Diocese who want to spend this year going deeper into their faith. This was my first time on the Discipleship Leadership Team so there were parts of the retreat that the other leaders tried to describe to me but that I really just had to experience for myself. One of those things was the trust walk.
For this walk, the students were broken up into their small groups, blindfolded, and led in a single file line by one of their small group leaders. The students were then taken outside and led around the grounds, occasionally stopping to hear a Bible passage that correlated with the life of Jesus and His Passion (journey to the Cross). Why am I sharing this? Because I was chosen to lead my small group and I had a profound moment of realization about halfway through the experience. I had four students behind me, each holding the shoulders of the one in front of them with the first in line holding onto mine as I slowly led them along the grounds.
As I was silently directing the students with only my movements, I found myself watching for ditches, slopes, rocks, branches, roots, curbs, narrow paths, and railings- basically anything that could cause them harm or send one member of the group off in the wrong direction. Sometimes I would kick the twigs out of the way, sometimes I would leave them trusting they wouldn’t cause much confusion or harm. Sometimes I would redirect the group, even if it meant not going in a straight line, just to avoid a slight ditch that could twist their ankle. Sometimes, when something really big was coming up like a curb, I would actually use my words to warn them, but still in a soft, gentle voice so as to not startle them or make them more anxious than they needed to be.
It was halfway through all this that I realized, I was “standing in the position of God”- as in, this is exactly what He does with us. He is constantly looking out for us by removing obstacles and barriers that we don’t even realize are there, redirecting us even if it’s slightly confusing in order to lessen the potential pain, or making sure we feel comfortable trusting Him and can feel His movements or hear His voice.
It’s also true that He lets us walk through some pretty rough terrain at times too. But even in those instances, because of our clouded vision, we have no idea the even bigger obstacles He’s helping us to avoid. His redirecting may feel disorienting, out of the way, or like a long unnecessary pause but in reality, it’s getting us to the right destination not just a destination that seems right.
Something else that caught my attention throughout this trust walk was that the students behind me who were furthest from me were often swinging out to the side in what seemed like in an unnecessary and unprovoked fashion. You could sense their discomfort and disorientation too. In response, I would try to go slower to help keep them from crashing into anything but the further away they were from me, the harder it was to do. However, it was very different for those closest to me because they could feel my exact movements. They were relying solely on me, not on others’ good yet still flawed/distracted/imperfect movements. The movements of those closest to me were not perfect either because it does take a lot to trust 100% when you can’t see anything. This meant that they still tried to demonstrate some kind of control of their own at moments. However, it was definitely the easiest and best position in the line to be in.
As I continue to reflect on this experience, I realize it’s again the same way it works with our relationship with God. The further away we are from Him, the easier it is to find ourselves swinging all over the path, feeling anxious, and really struggling to trust those in front of us. Hopefully we still hang on throughout this turmoil, realizing that if we let go we’ll have absolutely no direction to follow except a blind guess. However, when we’re closer to God the movements and changes in direction feel much more fluid and easy to follow. Again, that’s not to say it is easy because once we feel like we’ve got a handle on His movements He might change direction quickly to avoid something we can’t see, or we might end up on new terrain that makes it more challenging to follow Him. We will never not face these kinds of changes, so what this exercise taught me was that as long as we keep our hands on His shoulders and stay as close as possible to Him, we’ll be just fine- actually we’ll be more than fine because we may even start to enjoy the journey and embrace it like a fun ride, following the one we love and trust more than anything with a big smile on our face no matter which direction we head in or hidden roots we hit along the way. He sees it all and it’s a whole lot easier for Him to keep us from falling when we’re already holding onto Him!
It’s also important to note that we stopped at certain spots along the way to hear Bible passages before ending at the unknown destination (the chapel with Jesus in the Eucharist exposed for Adoration). These stops helped keep us focused on the purpose of the trust walk in the first place. It’s not merely about the destination but the journey of getting to know God along the way so that the ultimate destination (Heaven) can be understood in its fullness when we do, God willing, arrive there.
Why would we want the end result, Heaven, if we don’t want a relationship along the way with the God who created it, encompasses it, and invites us to join Him there? It seems quite foolish to desire a place with Him for all eternity if we aren’t desiring to know and love Him now and even more deeply every day. So that begs the question…
How can we inch ourselves closer to Him so that our hands are firmly planted on His shoulders and our hearts are full of joy as we embrace this exciting trust walk together?
P.S. These blog posts are one way for me to process my own experiences and struggles so don’t think for a second that I have all of this figured out, I trust perfectly, or I find it to be a joyful and exciting adventure all the time. I’m just as much on my own journey as each of you reading this are.