A flooded river stood between them and home. The heavy rains coupled with the narrow river bed had made the water rise much higher and run much faster than usual. It wasn’t safe for them to cross.
Chris went first. He fought for balance with every step; the current struggled to pull him off his feet, and the water boiled above his knees like a thick stew, filling his shoes with gritty silt. As he set down his backpack on the far bank and turned around to return to the small group huddled at the water’s edge, he was thinking, “How are they going to make it?” The villagers were far shorter and lighter than he was, and one of them was carrying a toddler in a string bag on her head.
But before he could say anything, an old woman stepped into the surging water, her arms outstretched and her eyes full of confidence. What could he do? He took her arms and helped her across, each of his steps anchoring each of hers. The current was so strong that as they approached the opposite shore she was swept off her feet by the relentless pull, and only Chris’ strength saved her from a painful dip in the freezing water.
As Chris set her down on the solid, rocky riverbank and turned back again, the old woman’s husband was the next to reach out his arms and plunge his gnarled bare feet into the muddy river. Chris walked him across, where he, too, was lifted off his feet by the current and became completely reliant on Chris’ tiring legs. And then the next person stepped into the water. And the next. And the next. The woman with the child handed the baby in its string bag cradle to Chris rather than attempt to carry him across herself. Total trust.
That evening, after he had made it home soaking wet, cold, and exhausted, he told me the story. It seemed that the people didn’t need to think twice about letting him ferry them across a river they would never attempt to cross alone. It made me think: Do I trust as much as those people? When I am confronted by an obstacle that seems insurmountable – maybe even dangerous – do I hold my arms out and step in and trust that God will bring me through? Am I willing to dangle my child over a raging river so that someone stronger than me can carry him across?
Right now I feel like I am in the middle of the river. I have come a long way, and not by my own strength. But now I am starting to look down at the swirling water, dark with mud and so cold. I am pulling my arms back, too afraid to go on. What if I fall? What if my next step is into a hole? What if there is a big rock down there that I can’t see? And furthermore, I brought my kids to the middle of the river with me. Now what?
I want to give it all away – all the worry, all the pressure, all the planning, all the need to be sure… I want someone stronger than myself to carry my children. I want to put myself into the arms of someone who is certain. I want to trust and just keep on walking.
If God can part a sea, He can bring me across a river. If God can count the hairs on my children’s heads, he can carry them, too. If He can watch his own son die to save me, then He can be trusted. So I will reach out for him and take another step.