“I’ll just jump off the balcony. You’ll catch me, right?!”
Those were the words I screamed through the locked bedroom door to my Dad on the other side, as tears streamed down my face. It was 1978 and thanks to some good planning and lucky circumstances, my family was in Germany for a short family vacation after my Dad’s business meetings had concluded. Since my Mom had spent a few years in Germany as a small child while my Grandpa was stationed there after World War II, we were spending a few days visiting the woman who had been their housekeeper, Emma. We also got to know her husband Sepp, her teenage son Christian, and her daughter Heidi and her family. I was excited that Heidi had a daughter around my age.
I remember almost nothing from this trip, honestly. After all, I was five. But I have vivid memories of this particular situation. My sister, Christian, Anja and I had decided to play a wild game of hide-and-seek. Up to this point, it had been a game filled with fun and laughter. This particular turn, Christian was “it” and I decided that I would hide in his bedroom. He had this great chest in his bedroom at the end of his bed. I tucked away a vision of it as a treasure chest, but in reality it was likely an everyday storage chest suitable for blankets and such. I just knew I could fit perfectly into the chest, and he’d never think to look for me there.
Well, that is as much as my brilliant thinking accomplished that day, for my next thought was certainly not nearly as stellar. As I was tiptoeing into his room, I decided that I’d just lock the door behind me while I was at it. (Because that wouldn’t make it obvious where I was at all, right?!)
Unfortunately for me, the locks in Germany were different than those in the United States. I don’t remember the exact details, but I recall an oddly shaped key – and the fact that the key was on the inside of the door and not the inside. I hastily locked the door, climbed into the chest, and celebrated my fantastic hiding spot. I was sure to win this round! As the youngest person in the game (and a foreigner at that!), I had not yet won a single round.
Only moments later, I heard the rumbling of feet up the stairs and down the hall, followed by the jiggling of the door handle as Christian tried to come inside. Success! I thought. He can’t tag me if he can’t reach me! Sure enough, the footsteps pattered away and shortly after I heard the squeal of laughter as he found and tagged Anja and my sister. Obviously they’d all figured out what room I’d chosen by then, so I heard knocking on the door and hollering that I’d won and could come out now.
Gleefully, I climbed out of the best, celebrating my win all the way to the bedroom door. I put the key in the lock, only to discover that it would not turn. I jiggled it around but still, no luck. I couldn’t get the door unlocked! Instantly, my exuberance turned to outright terror as I realized that I was stuck inside this room, thousands of miles from home and the place I felt safe. (I’m quite sure that if I were to return, the lock would not be nearly as complicated as it was to my five-year-old self!)
I began to scream and cry, and it didn’t take long before the trio on the other side of the door recognized my distress and went to find the adults in the room. Soon, I had voices hollering at me in German and in English, trying to tell me how to open the door. But by that point, I was so shaken and scared, it was of no use. Through my tears, I looked around the room and realized that the doors to Christian’s balcony were open.
Freedom! I thought. I can get out that way! Drying my tear-stained face, I turned back to the door with new confidence. “Dad!” I yelled. “I can just jump over the balcony to you! Go outside and meet me. You’ll catch me, right?” I had complete trust that if I jumped, he would catch me. What I’d failed to recognize was that this was a third floor balcony – probably not the smartest jump to make.
After a pause long enough to let the reality that I was seriously contemplating this sink in, I heard panic make its way to the other side of the door as the adults on the other side tried to convince me to stay put. I grew more and more confused, knowing only that I was trapped but had seen a way out that seemed reasonable to me.
Suddenly amidst the chaos in the hallway, the only voice that I heard was my Dad’s, “Listen to me – do you trust me?”
In that moment, I had a decision to make – trust my Dad or turn away and choose the way that looked right to me.
Taking a deep breath, I said, “Yes, Daddy. But what do I do?” And in the next few minutes, with all else silent, he gently led me through the right way to unlock the door from my side. Moments later, the door opened and I threw myself in my Dad’s open arms, relieved to be safe again.
Before you ask, yes, that is a completely true story. But more importantly: have you considered yet how magnificently this story demonstrates and describes our faith in God?
You see, so often we feel trapped by circumstances and unable to find a way out. Usually in that time, the voices are deafening and our mind is terrified.
Sometimes we see a way out that seems right and we surge forward, proclaiming our total faith in God and headed right for disaster. Our faith is admirable – nothing speaks complete trust more than a willingness to blindly jump from a third story balcony – but our listening skills need help. Suddenly, God’s voice manages to reach past all the others as He reveals to us that He has a different way for us to go – a better way. And He asks us to trust Him, even though we can’t see the path He has chosen.
When we do choose to trust, He gently whispers to us, guiding us through each and every step. He stays with us through every moment, bringing wisdom and encouragement we need to keep going. And when we reach the end? Hallelujah, we get to tumble into His wide open, loving arms.
That’s the kind of faith I want to have. How about you?
Linking up today’s post to Living Devotionally’s Write it, Girl!