Footlogs and Phobias

“What’s a footlog?” I asked Dean. I was soon to find out.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—Where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1 NIV

One of the trails my husband and I hiked on our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was the Kephart Prong Trail. Littered with golden leaves, it wound through the forest two miles up a mountain along a gurgling creek and several waterfalls to a hiking shelter near the summit.

The trail crossed the creek at several places—four to be exact. Bridge number one was a nice one-lane footbridge constructed of wooden planks with a log railing on one side. I crossed it no problem.

The first foot bridge. I didn’t know what was ahead.

 

Then we got to the second bridge, but it wasn’t called a bridge—it was called a “footlog”—a split log about 25 feet long spanning the creek 10 feet below. It, also, had a log railing on one side only, which in places arched away from the bridge.

I’ve always had a fear of heights. When I was nine, my father had to peel me off the second landing of a fire tower because I was screaming and clinging to the steel grate step in terror. I never overcame my acrophobia.

On the first bridge I was fine. I felt secure on the wooden planks. But stepping on a narrow log with moss growing on it was another story.

While my sweet hubby was too busy taking pictures of this historic event to be of any help should I fall into the rushing stream below and knock myself out on a rock, I focused on a point on the log about three feet in front of me, put one hiking boot in front of the other, used my walking stick for balance, and counted my steps aloud. And, of course, ignored Shutterbug behind me.

Baby steps

“Don’t look down!” Dean told me. I didn’t. He took this picture.

Then we came to the second footlog—green with moss, gray with age and missing chunks of wood—scarier than the first one. Using my focus and counting technique and ignoring the fear, I made it across, even though the couple behind us turned back when the woman refused to cross it.

The second footlog. Notice the wood missing and how the railing arches away from the walkway.

 

Halfway across! Notice how well I am concentrating.

The third (and nice) footlog

The third footlog looked newer, like it had just been built. It should have been a piece of cake by then, but I was still scared.

I wasn’t any less afraid crossing the footlogs on the return trip as I had been going up.

But I learned something. No, I didn’t overcome my fear—I walked through it.

We all set out on a trail called life. It goes up and down, winds over rocky and smooth terrain. Along the way we encounter our fears.

But we don’t have to turn back. We don’t have to overcome our fear, either—indeed, sometimes you can’t.

Made it!

But by taking one step at a time, focusing on what’s just ahead, using God’s Word for balance, and having faith in what’s at the end of your journey, you can walk through it.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? From You, Father God, the maker of the mountains and my guide through this hike called life. Amen.

 

Read and reflect on Psalm 121.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God. © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Silent Saturday

 

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. –Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

Today is what I call “Silent Saturday”—the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

As a child I faithfully attended Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. One of the things I remember about this time right before Easter is that no music was played in church. The organ was silent, as were the bells and other instruments. Songs were sung a cappella.

This period of silence impressed upon me the solemnness of the time when God’s Son was betrayed, condemned, crucified, and buried, paying the price for the sins of all mankind from the dawn of creation to the end of time.

I knew, of course, what would follow—Easter! The day Jesus burst out of that Mid-Eastern tomb in all His glory—alive forever! The return of music! The return of hope and joy.

Little, if anything, is said in the Gospels about “Silent Saturday.” For the Jews of that time, it was the Sabbath, a day of rest. A day no work was to be done.

We read nothing of what Jesus’ followers did that day.

We can only imagine what they felt: Grief. Hopelessness. Despair. Terror. If the Jewish authorities could do this to Jesus, who performed all those miracles and claimed to be God’s Son, what would they do to His disciples? So they hid, their dreams for the Kingdom and their places in it shattered, their future uncertain. The plan, they thought, went horribly, horribly wrong.

Or did it?

They had no idea that actually everything was going wonderfully, impossibly, exactly according to plan—God’s plan. They didn’t know they were in the waiting room—not the hiding place—between deep despair and unbridled joy. Between apparent defeat and glorious triumph. Between terror and a holy boldness that would set the world on fire and launch the Jesus Movement.

But, oh! That first Easter morning—who could even begin to describe the wonder they experienced at the empty tomb, the joy at seeing Jesus alive? It was exceedingly, abundantly, above all they could have imagined.

But they didn’t know all that on Silent Saturday.

What about you?

Are you in a “Silent Saturday” time of your life? Are you dealing with grief, loss, bitter disappointment, discouragement, night-long weeping? Are you scraping at the bottom of the empty barrel of hope? Fighting despair and feel like you’re losing the battle? Thinking that your dreams, your future, are sealed up in a tomb of decay?

Hang on, dear one loved by God. Saturday will pass. The night of weeping will end. The Son will burst over the horizon, His rays chasing away despair and flooding your soul with hope and joy.

It’s Silent Saturday, but get ready, Pilgrim. Sunday’s coming.

Thank You, God, for Easter, when hope springs eternal. Amen.

Read and reflect on John 16:16–33.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.