If you haven’t read Stranger’s Gift Part 1, click here.
20 minutes up, the trail entered a cave. Cass pulled out her phone to use the flashlight app. Brilliant girl, she smiled. Wait, what? She hadn’t flipped the switch on the charger. Seriously? Why would you put a switch on a charger? Who designed this thing? With a sigh of disgust, she walked off to the side of the trail, searching for a way around or over the cave, but the sheer cliff wall spread endlessly in both directions.
Cass took a deep breath and pushed away any thought with the word “Can’t” in it. She’d lived her life saying, “I can’t.” All that had done was keep her in a box, dependent on unreliable people. This year, that word was banished from her vocabulary. She looked up and said, “Okay, Lord. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The cave darkened quickly. She sang a song about faith as she shuffled along what felt like the path. Banging her shin on a jutting rock, she fell forward and landed with a smack on her elbow, because she was holding the stranger’s gift in her hand. Stupid thing! She tried to cram it into her bag, but it wouldn’t fit. At least it would double as a weapon if she met anything in the darkness. The trail rose and she bumped her head. Fear flipped to frustration. What the heck is this thing, anyway! What did he mean, “You’re going to need it”? If I’m going to need it, why didn’t he tell me what to do with it? What I need are empty hands, so I can feel my way along!
A sloth might have traveled faster. Her feet gently probed every step. Her free hand felt for obstacles in front of her, and the bottle-filled hand was raised to protect her head. Her shin, arm and back throbbed. In a moment of panic, she turned to retreat, but the entrance had disappeared from view. Everything was blackness, so she pressed on. Stupid charger. “Lord, You promised to supply everything I need. Where are You?” If God was saying anything, it was impossible to hear through the tension. A stalactite whacked the arm above her head, and the bottle dropped to the ground, almost tripping her. As it landed, silver light shone from its body. After gripping her arm in pain for a moment, Cass opened her eyes and gasped. The cave ceiling was studded with stalactites. As light pinged off them, they shot blue, green and yellow designs onto the walls and floor. Picking up the bottle by the neck, she turned in an open-mouthed circle, speechless at what a moment ago had been a chamber of torment. She never wanted to leave. “Wow, God. You are an Artist.”
The light was still burning when she reached the other end of the tunnel. She turned back for one more look inside. Everything in her longed to stay. Almost everything—the part that was afraid of bears urged her to reach the group before nightfall. A sip of water and she was on her way, wondering How do you turn this thing off?
God gives us everything we need, often before we need it. Like the stranger’s flashlight, a friend of mine received this link a few days before a faith-assaulting disappointment. She had the choice to recognize that God had prepared her with the truths she needed and He would continue to guide her. If we choose to trust, we experience His goodness in the most unexpected ways. One experience at a time, our faith grows and He guides us through even bigger adventures. Our stories inspire others to trust God.
If we throw away our faith in fear and frustration, or if we say, “I can’t,” and refuse to try, we miss out. Eventually, we can lose touch completely with the One who loves us, because we’ve stopped ourselves from experiencing the abundant life He wants to give us.
Our faith will always be tested, but it’s easier to make it our first response if we treat it like a muscle, with food and exercise. Faith-food is scripture and stories of God’s work in the lives of others. For a daily dose of this, check out 1 Minute Wiser, my daily videos on Facebook and Youtube. Faith exercise? Well—life will see to that. In every situation, thank God that He’s “the God of peace, who…will 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Hebrews 13:20a, 21 NIV