For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps – 1 Peter 2:21 (NASB)
The following is an excerpt from a 17 day survey trip that took place in July 2001, while on assignment as an Aid Worker in Northern Afghanistan…
It was our eighth day of walking when we heard the bad news, the trail ahead was heavily mined. According to the locals, that meant we would have to return the way we came, retracing every step we had taken over the past eight days. Apparently, two villages had been caught up in fighting and as a result they had laid down enough explosives to destroy a small army. I did not know what lay ahead, but I knew what lay behind, and returning the way we came was not an option. The locals said our only hope was to find a wealthy man named Mahmoud, who lived between the two villages and had thus far managed to maintain a neutral position. With that we set out to find the man who would soon become our friend.
When we arrived, we were welcomed by our host and we sat for hours eating yogurt, sipping green tea, and sharing poems and proverbs together. We listened to our friend as he told us of the long, cold winter they had just endured and of many other hardships in his country. While we sat together, we formed a strong bond and it was then that our friend informed us that rather than giving us directions through the minefield, he would lead us through himself.
Minutes later we left the safety of Mahmoud’s plantation and rejoined the trail. Though at first we saw no mines, we were told there were hundreds all around us. We cautiously followed our guide in single file. Every step he took left a print in the sand and we carefully placed our feet where he placed his. At one point the trail itself was heavily mined and we were forced to climb down through the mines to the river. I thought the detour would be the safer route and free of all mines, but that was not the case. I looked to the river on my left, the heavily mined trail to my right, and to the now visible explosives covering the ground in front of us. It appeared that there was no way forward and no way back.
I was weak and tired from the previous days walking and now leaning heavily on my walking stick. It was then our guide randomly asked to see the walking stick. He made a few remarks about its texture and the quality of wood. Then without returning my stick to me, he continued walking. I had no alternative but to follow behind him and place my feet where he placed his. Only here the ground was harder. His steps did not leave a deep impression as before so we watched more carefully and mimicked his every move. Jumping over sandy rocks and scaling large boulders, our guide must not have heard me call out for my walking stick. I had heard many times that mines were mistaken for toys or pretty rocks and picked up and handled by small children. The result was often loss of limb or life, and we now faced similar consequences. However, Mahmoud knew the way to the other side of the minefield and he managed to lead us unscathed to the other side.
Once to the other side, our guide smiled and handed my walking stick back to me and said something I hope to never forget… he said “in a place like this it is better for you to have two legs than three, but do not worry, for had you become tired I would have carried you on my back.” I hugged him tightly as we said goodbye, but it was not until days later that I realized the significance of his words.
Our friend took his time and risked his life to show us the way to the other side of a minefield. However, there is One who is greater than he Who gave His life to become the way leading us to life everlasting. Sometimes when we are afraid and want to call it quits, or we hurt so bad that we cannot take another step, that is often when our Guide takes away the thing or things we think we need the most. We however must remember that He is taking away what we most want to give us what we most need, greater dependence on Him. Even when we do not understand, He does. When we are weak, He is not. When we cannot continue, He can and He does. He continues to uphold our fainting spirits. He continues to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. He continues to be faithful, He continues to be mighty, He continues to be righteous, and He never stops being in control. When the heat of day drains our strength, He covers us with His wings. When the sky is black and the clouds become dark, He brings us into His tent. His angels camp around us and continue to protect us from our enemies. He gives us faith as our shield, His righteousness as our breastplate, and He sets His Word to be the two edged sword in our right hand. We must simply remember to let go of the world and let Christ lead the way… faithfully placing our feet where He placed his.