Let me tell you a little about my friend Phyllis. She’s part of the church family at Hele Road Baptist and, since the lockdown kicked in over six months ago, we’ve met up at some point most weeks to take a stroll along the Babbacombe Downs and have a drink at the wonderful Cliff Railway Café.
It’s one of the only opportunities Phyllis has each week to get out and about. She lost her sight when she was a young adult, and since the pandemic struck, nearly all of the different activities she enjoyed, that made up her week, have come to a grinding halt.
One thing that stands out to me about my friend is how trusting she is of me as she takes my arm and I lead her along the Downs.
She trusts me as I tell her how clear the view is – whether or not I can see all the way across the water to Budleigh Salterton – and she also trusts that the cup that’s placed in front of her at the café contains the coffee she requested, and not tea, which she can’t stand the taste of.
Spending time with Phyllis has also reminded me how frequently I take my eyesight for granted, and how different just about every aspect of life when you cannot see.
For me, it would mean entrusting myself to the help and support of others in so many more ways than I do now.
When you think about it, life would grind to a halt if we failed to trust other people at all, wouldn’t it?
I mean, how annoying would it be to my fellow passengers if, every time I boarded a bus, I insisted on the driver showing me their licence? And can you imagine the response I’d get if, when ordering food at a local restaurant, I requested an inspection of the kitchen facilities before I was prepared to eat what was on my plate?
Putting our faith in the competence, expertise and consideration of others is a basic life requirement.
The same principle applies when you or I put our trust in God.
The apostle Paul, writing from personal experience in 2 Corinthians 5:7, tells us that a foundational rule of Christian living is this: “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
In the early pages of the Old Testament, when God calls a man named Abraham, he asks him to leave his family and his homeland and ‘go to the land I will show you’.
The Lord doesn’t even say the name of the country he’ll be travelling to but asks Abraham to trust him with all the details.
And numerous men and women throughout the pages of Scripture were asked by God to follow Abraham’s example; in fact one New Testament chapter, Hebrews 11, is devoted to commending these pilgrims, describing them as people who lived ‘by faith’.
Such a way of life is unavoidable for any and every follower of Jesus. For me, living by faith in God’s plan and purposes, when I’m not able to see what the future holds, is a lesson the Lord has repeatedly asked me to learn.
I recall when, aged 29, I left my job as a church youth worker in London, to begin studying at Bible College in Bournemouth.
My wife Linda had also recently left paid employment to give birth to our first child, and so we swiftly went from two full-time salaries to no regular income.
Although we had a flat to call home, and enough money to pay my first term’s college fees, we didn’t know how and where our future fees and living costs for the next few years would come from.
But God was true to his promise of provision, and in the months that followed, all our needs were met, chiefly through the generosity and kindness of family and friends.
Since then, over the past couple of decades, again and again we’ve discovered that the words of King David in Psalm 34:10, written thousands of years ago, still hold true: “Those who trust in the Lord lack no good thing.”