Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Trust and the Dark

For the first several years that I attended the yearly gathering of the teenage writers’ group I’ve long been a part of, usually the result was the classic “mountain top” spiritual experience we often crave-- quite literally, given that it usually takes place at a remote ranch hidden on top of a mountain. Now that I am older, the result is usually more one of steadying than catapulting, of some small thing that embeds itself in my heart and grows with the steady nourishment of everyday life.

Each year, on Sunday morning we’re sent off to find a quiet place and talk to God. And each year, I take twice as long as I’m supposed to, and fortunately everyone is gracious enough to let me. This year was no different. I have a special place hidden in the heart of an aspen grove that I have always reserved for these times, and I hiked up there again and settled into the quiet, breathless awe of space reserved for knowing God.

I am on the other side of a stretch life in 2011 and part of 2012 that was often characterized by what could be called a dark night of the soul, what was for me a long life chapter punctuated by moments of intense doubt, wrestling with my faith, and learning how to trust God when He seemed utterly silent. That season drew to a close through living in Colorado and all the things that stretch of my life was, but as I sat on my mountainside with God, I felt the weight of all the retrospective questions I still had-- no longer questions of who God was, but the much more childlike question Father, why were You quiet so long?

With a kind of desperate honesty I asked Him why in shadows He hadn’t made it all stop, why He couldn’t have changed my heart sooner, why I’d had to live dark hours in the lives of my friends and my family and my own soul that I could now never erase. And in the sacred space created by vulnerability, I heard Him give me a gentle question in return:

If I had called your name, stretched out My hand to lead you out, would you have trusted Me enough to come?

I knew the answer immediately. As much as I’d begged Him to change things, as much as I’d waited and prayed for daylight to break, if He had offered a way into the light that looked different than I expected, I would not have gone with Him. I would have stayed in the night for fear the road to the dawn would give way under me halfway through.

Those years of my life were purposeful, and I believe with all my heart that they needed to happen to shape my faith into what it has become. But that simple question has pushed me to reexamine how I navigate life now, looking at my motives with honesty. Sometimes I think we pray for rescue, but only so long as it shows up in the form we’ve already given it in our minds-- the bright lights, the knight in shining armor, financial stability. When rescue shows up requiring we let go of what we know and hold the hand of the Divine in the dark, we may find that we didn’t really want it as much as we thought.

I have been landed in yet another season of instability and insecurity-- in a new city with a new apartment and a new name, seeking places to invest myself. And in this gray of not knowing, looking back tells me that trust is the only direction that will lead me anywhere, even if when God calls me I can’t see the road yet at all. I am young and I am uncertain and I am afraid, but like Peter I’m stepping onto the rolling darkness of the waves and trusting it will bear my weight... simply because Christ said “come.”


Anonymous said...

You are fortunate to have Christian friends and family members in your life. Many young people have not a single Christian to turn to or be influenced by. The way may have been dark but you have come into the light and turned from the caterpillar into the butterfly! God has special plans for you, Mary. I truly believe that. Just be patient, wait for that small voice in your heart! I am proud to know you and can't wait to see how your life with Jordan unfolds!5

NarnianWarHorse said...

Someone pointed out to me not long ago that after God told Noah the flood was coming and to build the ark, He was silent for the 120 years it took Noah to build the vessel. (at least in what we have recorded) A pastor on the radio said that "if you don't have a new word from God, you have to keep working on the old word from God."
Sounds like that's what you've been learning, in a touchable way. :)

Beautiful post, as always, Dear Heart. *hugs* Keep glowing, firefly!


Eclectic Elegance said...


...I thought I was the only one who went up in the aspens for quiet time. XD

Wow. :3 I have also asked God why I had to suffer with my darkness and obsession with torture so long--why I couldn't have let go of the guilt sooner. But...I came to a very similar conclusion that it was hard enough for me to let go as it was. I wouldn't have let go any sooner, having been afraid that my darkness would be too much for Jesus. Silly me.

*hugs again* :3