It had been ages since I went hiking. I was on my first visit to Arizona, and was excited to see the local flora and fauna up close. My brother and sister-in-law suggested an easy trail in a state park nearby.
Trying to avoid the heat, we embarked on a mostly-shaded path that wound near a stream. I marveled at my first sight of a Sycamore tree and its pale jigsaw-puzzle bark. My sister-in-law and I couldn’t resist breaking into an old Sunday School song:
“Zacchaeus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a Sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see!”
I could visualize Zacchaeus scurrying up one of the sturdy appendages of a Sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus.
A bit further, I posed by a massive Yucca plant, taking care to avoid its pointy leaves. Later, I heard the grass rustle and caught a glimpse of a quick-moving lizard (I was glad it wasn’t a rattlesnake)! As we rounded a bend, we came to a bridge and spotted several deer foraging along the creek bed.
After quietly snapping a few photos, we finished the crossing. Though it was a fairly long bridge, the sturdy guard rails made me feel secure.
The next bridge, however, was a different story.
Unlike the previous one, it was low to the water and lacked railings. My sister-in-law didn’t miss a beat, fearlessly striding across the wooden planks as the stream rushed beneath.
I, on the other hand, took a few shuffling steps and knew I was in trouble. With a history of balance problems, I froze, afraid to go any further. I called out to my brother, who was only a few steps behind me. “You’re going to have to let me hold on to you!” I exclaimed. He inched around me and extended his hand.
That’s all it took. As our hands connected, I immediately felt the stability and security I needed to finish crossing. I was glad that part of the hike was over.
To my dismay, however, the trail led to a similar, but even longer foot bridge. That time I immediately cried out, “hold my hand!”
Once again, my brother’s grip guided me safely to the other side.
Since that experience, I’ve reflected on how life sometimes presents us with “rail-less bridges.” We all face moments when the path ahead feels outside of our comfort zone — and maybe even a little dangerous. We’re afraid we might get hurt or embarrass ourselves. We fear the uncertainty of what’s on the other side of the bridge, yet we sense it is the path we are supposed to take.
In those moments, it’s tempting to turn around and go back where it’s safe, find an easier route, or remain stuck, immobilized by fear.
What if instead, we knew there was always someone nearby whose steady hand we could grasp . . . someone who would guide us, empower us, and help us stay the course?
There is! Scripture paints a vivid picture of God’s promise to hold our hand through anything we face.
Here are a few examples:
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
“I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” Psalm 63:8 (NLT)
No matter what you are facing, God is nearby and extending his mighty hand toward you. All you have to do is grab it.
As you entrust your path to Him, you can be assured that he will lead the way and never let go.
May the words of Deuteronomy 31:6 encourage you to cross the “rail-less bridges” in your life with confidence: “. . .be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic . . .for the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (NIV)