Recently a friend of mine woke up at 4am after hearing a loud noise in the downstairs of his farmhouse. He drifted out of bed in a fog – it was a hot summer night – and mumbled middle-of-the-night admonishments at his dog who he figured must have busted through the mudroom screen.
He wandered the dark ground floor of the expansive farmhouse wearing only his boxers. He went into the mudroom: no dog. He peeked in each of the pitch black rooms: no dog. He sleepily walked into the kitchen, his bare feet scuffing on the linoleum.
His wife had woken up at the sound of the bang. She thought of their baby, only a few days old. She thought of their four other children sleeping in various rooms of the house. She heard her husband’s footsteps creaking over the old floorboards. Then she heard him say something she couldn’t quite believe, something that indicated her worst fear was taking place that night.
“What are you doing in our house?” he asked.
The firmness of his voice crashed through the night.
* * * * *
What are your worst case scenarios? Do you have nagging fears that reside somewhere in the back of your mind, the kind that when given an ounce of nourishment come roaring into your frontal lobe?
I had a lot of worst case scenarios dashing around in my mind when we left on our four-month trip:
As soon as I began driving the 40-foot bus, I worried about getting it stuck somewhere.
As soon as I started driving through the mountains and saw the emergency truck ramps, I worried about losing our brakes.
As soon as we got about halfway through the trip, I wondered what would happen if I didn’t land another big project before we got back.
Yeah, you probably already know this, but all those things happened. It was almost like God shook his head sadly and said, You know, if you’re going to be so captivated by the fear of these things that might happen, I might as well walk you through them. That way, you’ll see that you can survive it. And then you can get on with life. This is my gift to you.
I don’t know if that’s how it works or not. I don’t know if that’s how God thinks. But there is a peace that comes in the midst of worst-case scenarios that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. There’s an incredibly tangible sense of presence. The soap bubble bursts, and while I realize that yes, this worst-case scenario stuff sucks, I’ve had another, even more startling realization.
I can get through it.
* * * * *
My friend found a man covered in blood in his kitchen. He talked to the man in a calm, firm voice.
“What are you doing in my house?”
“Can I call to get you some help?” The man didn’t want help.
“You need to get out of my house.”
After a few minutes, the man (his system saturated with drugs) walked out of the house and down the lane. He was later apprehended by the police – they had been looking for him.
Meanwhile, in the upstairs bedroom, my friend’s wife felt something strange in the midst of her worst-case scenario: peace. When her husband came back up to bed, their first thoughts weren’t about fortifying their house or moving somewhere else – their first thoughts were prayers for the man who was so lost that he would wander barefoot through the woods and on to their middle-of-nowhere property. So lost.
And this, I think, is the beautiful thing about trusting: it prepares a path of peace inside of us, a path that we are often unaware of until the worst-case scenario comes ripping through the undergrowth, tearing at the branches, stripping off the bark.
Then, there it is.
A new path.