This weekend I helped on a friend’s high school youth retreat. I was blessed to have a young man named Gabe in my small group. Gabe has some disabilities , but was a most amazing, humble, eager participant.
Sunday morning we all hiked out to a Marian grotto in the woods to pray the rosary. The landscape was beautiful, but the terrain a bit rocky in places. Gabe’s dad was also helping with the retreat and as we were about to hike back to camp he asked me, “Will you keep an eye on Gabe and make sure he gets back to camp?”
“Sure,” I replied.
As we gathered to leave I simply stood next to Gabe and as we began to walk I fell in step just slightly behind him to the right. I thought of striking up conversation, but Gabe was quite the hiker (I had to scurry at times to keep up). So I simply kept pace behind him, enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful surroundings, and “kept an eye on him” as his dad had asked.
Sometimes his paced quickened and so I quickened mine. When we came to low hanging branches, I watched as he spotted them and stepped out of the way. There was one area where you have to step from rock to rock over a small ditch and Gabe did not miss a beat. Nevertheless I was there behind him only a step away should he need something.
And then it hit me.
I always long for God to walk before me. I want to confidently place my foot in his steps and clearly see him leading me in the path ahead. But sometimes he does not seem present. It seems as if I’m traipsing through the rocky hill country alone. What if I stumble? What if I get lost? What if I should need something? I feel rather alone.
But God is keeping an eye on me. And on you too.
Sometimes God walks “behind”. It is there He is best able to “keep an eye on us”. We are still within earshot. He can reach out and grab us if need be. But it allows us to grow in confidence and trust (something I'm learning a lot about lately). We have to lift our heads up and see where we are going. We have to think and react and interact with the world around us. We learn to trust that God is with us, ready to help. And we grow.
If today you are feeling alone, as if you’re hiking life’s journey solo, rest assured that God has his eye on you.
"Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me . . . Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?" Psalm 139
Thank you Gabe for the lesson in trust.
Emmanuel! God is truly with us!