Taking a Few Steps Back
The first Chapter of this year’s “Exciting Foot Adventure” was successfully concluded when I went for my 6 week check up recently. I was asked to first have an X-ray taken of my foot. So on a wet gray summer afternoon last week, I hobbled forth as instructed by my surgeon, to the Radiology department attached to the Memorial Hospital in Adelaide. A competent receptionist took down my details. I was half an hour early for my 1.30 p.m. appointment but was called in at once. The X-rays were taken by 1.15 p.m. – fifteen whole minutes before my appointment time. Talk of efficiency!
I sat in their waiting room for half an hour till the X-rays were developed so I could take them to my surgeon. I had my prayer diary and my mp3 player with me. So I contentedly absorbed myself in several moments of intercession coupled with a few moments of distraction with glad sounds of loud praise music reverberating in my ears all the while.
I noticed a busy Mum walking around in bright pink denims and a smart blue T shirt; a child’s small backpack slung across her shoulder. Behind her trailed a little girl. The little girl looked very cute. She was dressed in dark blue jeans and a soft white cotton blouse that had pretty embroidery on it. Her soft, blond hair was tied up in a small pony tail that got tossed sweetly from side to side as she walked. What grabbed my attention was how busy her Mum seemed to be (she was on the phone a good bit of the time) and how scant the attention she paid to her little girl.
What was interesting though was that the little girl did very well. She was a confident little person. She was unfazed even when her Mum disappeared from her vision as her Mum was apt to do. At one stage, Mum had gone outside talking on her mobile phone with not a backward glance to ensure that her daughter was still following her. The little girl was some distance behind, standing between two doorways. The two doors behind her had closed. The two doors in front of her were still open.
The little girl took a few steps forward very slowly toward those open doors. They were the kind of doors which open as we approach them. These particular doors had opened for her Mum and continued staying open for several seconds while her daughter approached. But as the little one reached them, they suddenly and unexpectedly shut fast. I thought she’d be surprised or agitated. She was neither of those things. She knew what to do. She moved back a few steps. And then moved forward again. This time the doors opened for her.
I thought it remarkable that a three year old could have worked that out. And equally interesting was the fact that she wasn’t in the least bit worried that Mum was beyond her vision. The closing and opening action of the doors fascinated her. She wanted to test them out. So she walked backwards once again, keeping her eyes on the doors. Then she came forward till the doors opened. She did this a few times till her Mum called her. I must admit that my prayer time was halted for several moments as I watched her with a smile on my lips. It was a show worth watching and I’m sure God delighted in it too.
Sometimes we hit a brick wall don’t we? Life sends us a few live puzzles to work out. We think we are close to getting the answers we were searching for but suddenly without warning, a door slams shuts in our faces. What do we do then? Should we keep walking forward till we bang our heads on the closed door in front of us?
Or should we follow this little girl’s lead and instead take a few steps back?
Sometimes I need to wait. Wait for answers. Wait for the wrong door to close. Wait for the right door to open. If I keep walking towards my problem, the door only shuts tighter. And I will not find the solution I am looking for.
Thinking through the decision takes patience. Taking a few steps back takes strength. Waiting develops my character muscles. Being willing to do it God’s way takes courage. Re-thinking what I had assumed was right is not easy but sometimes the best way forward.
Sometimes my life is like a blind-folded wander through a confusing maze. I turn one way but find a closed door. I might need to backtrack my steps and then walk in a different direction altogether. Psychologists tell us that one sure thing about life is that it changes all the time. They also tell us that we do best when we adapt to change. Proverbs 3 verses 7 & 8 say this: “Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
"Do not be wise in your own eyes." I like to think I know it all. Don't you?
Sometimes, I lean on my own wisdom and I find it isn't enough. It's then that I realise how much I need His wisdom to help me maneuver myself through life’s intricate maze. If I try to walk through a closed door I will bang my head on it and might even fall down. Perhaps I should heed God’s whispers instead. His whispers might come through circumstances, through His word or through His soft voice within my heart. I should take a few steps back, lean on God, waiting expectantly and prayerfully for the right door to open at the right time.