Before I came, I mentally equated coming to work with Mercy Ships to taking a spiritual cliff-dive: step up to the edge, take a deep breath, and plunge off into the unknown. The truth is that God gives of Himself abundantly. He took the tiny amount of faith and trust I had and covered the rest with grace, and when I look back I wonder why it seemed such a trustfall to come to Benin. It turns out to have only been a small step of obedience. Who knows what steps of obedience may be required of me next, but each time His grace will be sufficient.
I wrote that in July after I had been here in Benin for a couple months. Since then I have continued to think about what it means to trust God, really trust Him, not just say I trust Him and continue to try to hold it all together anyway.
In Natitingou, my friends and I went to swim at a waterfall one day. Rainfall the previous day made the waterfall beautifully strong, churning the water in the pool below to a cloudy brown. And it was here that I had the chance to scramble up the side of the waterfall, first holding onto a tree root and then climbing up the rocks themselves. Guided by a friend who had been there before, I bypassed a ledge on the side of the waterfall and plunged under the waterfall itself to climb onto one of several ledges behind the waterfall.
There were three of us total behind the waterfall, and the plan was to jump out all together. At the countdown, the other two jumped, and I remained standing on my ledge with the water pouring over me.
Now I am not afraid of heights, but I don't like falling. So jumping is hard for me...especially when I am standing behind a screen of water that prevents me from seeing my surroundings, how far it is to fall, and what lies below in the water.
I stood there with the water rushing over and around me and thought about how this was a living, breathing picture of exactly what God has been teaching me over the past year about what it means to trust.
Trust requires letting go.
Trust requires moving from the known into the unknown, even when you can't see where you are going.
And trust requires actually stepping off the ledge, not just thinking about it.
Toes gripping the slippery black rock, I stood under the rush of water contemplating the grandness of a God who gives me waterfalls to teach me lessons in trust.
Eyes closed, heart pounding, I jumped.
And loved it, so much so that I proceeded to climb up the waterfall so I could jump off once more, just for good measure.
Trust is a lesson I am trying to learn well, although I'm not sure it will ever be easy. Thankfully God is giving me ample opportunities to practice.
(You can see three ledges or levels in the picture... we jumped from the lowest of the three.)