By Charlie Johnston
I’m on the road again – and this time I did not have a storm chasing me out of Colorado. Mild sunny weather all day – and another gorgeous morning today.
When I left on my pilgrimage on Feb. 11, 2011, I had given away most of my meager belongings and departed with a bit over $50 in my pocket. I had my laptop in my backpack and a plan to write little $15 articles for an online media content site to help support my journey.
I hear from many people scared about the disorder that, lately, threatens to engulf us. If God has begun the process of renewing both His Church and the world, one of the keys to our own pilgrim journey through these times is to build our trust in Him. That does not mean He submits His plan to us for our approval, but that we must do our best and trust Him when we cannot see the way in front of us. From a standpoint of prudent judgment, if someone told me they were going to walk across the country starting with $50 in their pocket and a laptop to write $15 articles on, I would dismiss it as a ridiculously dubious plan – unlikely to get them more than 50 miles down the road, much less across the country. But that is what I did, determined to make it, starting with next to nothing. I figured I could find little odd jobs in exchange for a meal if I needed to, beg if I needed to, or dumpster dive if I needed to. The most important thing in my heart, as I could not see the way or tell anyone (including myself) how I was going to manage this, was that I was determined to do it and meet all the people I could, trusting God to make a way when I could not see one right ahead of me. As it turned out, God’s grace was sufficient for me. Rarely did I have enough to get me more than 100 to 150 miles more ahead – with no visible means of enduring when I made it that far. And yet, I always managed. Seeing that God’s grace was literally sufficient at each new step, it dramatically solidified my already strong faith in Him. It cemented the reality that I did not have to know His plan to trust it. And it kept me focused on the needs of the day, rather than fretting about the magnitude of the whole undertaking.
I think it helped some of my friends in the same way. Many (actually most) thought I would end up wounded and broke pretty early on. One friend even quietly set aside a little fund to bring me back when my starry-eyed plan came a-cropper. I was in Pearl, Mississippi when he called one day. After a few minutes of cheery conversation, he exclaimed that every time he called he expected me to be daunted and broken, but I was always cheery and upbeat with cool little stories of what I had seen since last we talked. “I’m beginning to think you’re going to make it, after all,” he said.
I tell you this because, if things do not smooth out, none of us is going to be able to clearly see the way ahead of us. Don’t regard this as a terror to tremble over, but as a problem to be managed, an obstacle to be navigated, trusting that God will open up a way before you. But you have to commit to stay the course in both the lightest and the darkest moments. God’s grace is sufficient for you, too. But you won’t know it as intimately now as you will after, when He guides you through anyway when you could not see the way forward. Your persistent determination to walk through to the end in His service is the raw material you offer to Him in order to open yourself up to His grace..
After a few months, I was better than a thousand miles away from anyone I had known before my pilgrimage began. Yet I was never more than a few miles away from a friend – friends I made along my pilgrim way – and would never have made had I not set out in the first place. Give thanks to God for the friends you are going to make as you make your way to renewal.
Some people thought my piece, “From the Ground Up” was some sort of prediction. Shoot, one fellow even wrote a comment (which I trashed) which said that this sort of stuff was nonsense when I was writing about it four years ago and is nonsense now. Four years ago, I wrote of what I was convinced was coming. Now, I write about what is actually happening – and where it heads if current trends continue. That is the sort of stuff I wrote about when I was entirely secular. Now, it is not so much prediction as observation.
If you are a farmer and see black clouds sweeping in and funnel clouds trying to form, it is best to gather the livestock to safety and head down to the storm cellar. If you are a sailor and see a storm coming in fast at sea, you need to get to work to batten down the hatches to weather the storm. In either case, the storm may yet pass you by. Hurricane Dorian was supposed to devastate our east coast – but it largely passed us by. It is foolish, though, to assume a visible storm will pass you by and, thus, make no preparations. Nothing is lost to those east coast residents who did prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. And the storm did NOT pass the Bahamas by. I guarantee you that the folks there who prepared well were glad they did.
God is renewing both His Church and this poor, bleeding world. His ways are not our ways, but He wants us to stand with Him as He accomplishes this great work. It is such a great grace and honor that He has chosen each of us to live and participate with Him in these great times of renewal, a great revival of the spirit and renewal of the world. He chose you for these times – and His grace is sufficient for you. Tremble not in fear, but with joy – and resolve. You are going to have some great stories to tell you grandchildren some day!