Recently our family traveled to Angkor Wat, an ancient Hindu temple in Cambodia. The center of the main temple represents the mythical Mt Meru (the Hindu center of the universe), and to get to the top you must climb treacherously steep stairs (read: nearly vertical). This design illustrates the difficulty of aspiring to the home of the gods, and in essence, it requires the climber to crawl up those stairs, prostrate before the gods.
Since it was my first time to Angkor Wat, I figured I wanted to climb to the top of that central tower. I decided to do that without thinking how high or steep it would be. This is my view from the bottom.
For safety purposes, the original stone steps have been covered with wooden steps, but they are still quite steep. Tourists also have the benefit of a hand rail. Unafraid, I stand at the bottom and start climbing. A few steps up, I realize just how high I am going to get, and just how fast that’s going to happen. I tell myself not to look down. I tell myself not to look up. I tell myself just to look at the steps in front of me. I whisper one of Elisabeth Elliot’s favorite quotations to myself: “Do the next thing.” So I do the next thing: I take the next step.
When I get to the top I’m a little shaky because I know I will eventually have to climb back down. But I follow the tourist signs around the tower, and in only a few minutes I find myself back at the stairs. I tell myself to do the next thing: focus on each step and don’t forget to hold on to the rail. This is me on my way down.
I had to climb the “mountain” one step at a time. I couldn’t look at the big picture of what I was really attempting. It was too scary. Each step was still scary, but it wasn’t as terrifying as looking at the entire wall I had to climb.
My life with God has been like that.
I’ve never had a Master Plan for my life. At each step of the way I just asked Him what to do next, and I felt He answered.
Together we asked Him what to do at our first church home in Rolla, MO. He led us to work with youth.
We asked Him when to start a family. And He said “now.”
We asked Him what to do and where to go after I graduated from university. He led Jonathan to go to nursing school in Kansas City.
We asked Him to supply a job in Kansas City, and He led us to work as youth ministers at Red Bridge.
We asked Him to supply a nursing job for Jonathan, and He led him to Truman Medical Center’s Emergency Department.
We asked Him whether we should apply with Team Expansion, and He said “yes.”And even though I was scared out of my mind, we followed Him. Each step of the application process was scary. But I only had to finish one step at a time.
Now that I’m in Cambodia, it doesn’t seem so scary. But if you had told me when I was saying “I do” to Jonathan Trotter, that in 12 years we would take 4 young children across the Pacific to a 4th world country as missionaries . . .
Thankfully, God has been gracious to me. He knew I couldn’t follow Him if I knew the Master Plan. He knew my fear would paralyze me. So He gave me an incremental plan, and now I can look back and say, “Oh, so that’s why You led us to do ____________!” Each piece of our life puzzle prepared us for where we are now. That’s the amazing grace of God, that He can script our life story if we will only “do the next thing.”