You might not believe this, but last Friday I heard this sentence in everyday language: “Thank you for the red tape!” We all laughed with our friend, Charles, when he said it, but we truly were thankful for the red tape that day. But ours wasn’t just ANY red tape.
Charles also happens to be our pastor in a growing house church. Friday he led us (not the whole church, just his wife and Mel and me) on a merry trail. We never quite got lost, but it was close a few times. He had a GPS, but none of us knew how to use that. So he also had a map. On that map he had seen evidence of some beaver ponds and he considered it a personal challenge to find those ponds.
This is what we waded through to get there. The grass was as deep as our thighs at times, so we followed his footsteps very carefully. Honestly, it was fun. I do like my adrenaline rushes. I would never have done this in Missouri in the middle of summer. The mountains, however, are a whole different story. No rattlesnakes, few ticks so far, no chiggers. There’s just something wild and exciting and fun about exploring the unknown. Especially when someone else is leading and we can blame him if we get lost.
This experience brought to my mind how, in our church, we do tend to hold our leaders up to a higher standard. The Bible says that’s normal. The leaders also share the heavier load of blame if they get off course and get us lost.
But we literally had red tape in the trunk of the ATV. It was duct tape. Why it was there, I don’t know, but boy, am I ever glad we had it! As we plowed through the thick forest following an animal trail–with Charles in front and Mel taking the rear in case we ran into a moose or bear or other angry animal–I ripped off sections of tape the way Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs, and wrapped them around branches, even the tops of some grasses. Every time we took a turn, and especially when we reached the beaver pond and the trail got lost in thick grass, I taped a square of bright red duct tape in a place where we would see it on our way back, because I really am an experienced bushwacker (that’s another name for an idiot who decides not to stick to the trail.) I knew the whole course would look different, and even disappear, when we turned to go back to our ATVs.
And you know what? We did find the beaver pond in the midst of all that foliage. In all my years of hiking I had never gone searching for a beaver pond, and I was out of my element. However! On the way back, we took great comfort in the fact that with every turn in the dense forest, there was a bright red piece of tape flagging us in the right direction. I remember Charles hollering at one point, “Thank you for the red tape!”
I was quite proud of myself for insisting on it. Mel was proud of me. And very grateful, I believe. Our pastor insists on using the Bible as his only foundation for leading and teaching and preaching. That’s why we’re in this particular house church.
When Charles preached his sermon on Sunday, he told our story. He compared the red tape with the Bible. As our fledgeling church moves forward, we carry the Bible with us, and if we run into disappointments or questions, our solid foundation is that very Word of God. That Bible is our guide, and we would be so lost without it. How glad I am that God left us that guide for our lives, that comfort.
I would love to know how the Bible has guided you during uncertain times, when you’ve had questions, how it might have comforted you recently.