In July 2006, I was thoroughly struggling with being single. I had no clue at that time that by November of that year, I would be dating Tim. I only knew that at the age of 25, I deeply desired to be married and seemingly had no prospects on the horizon. I took a personal retreat that summer and one afternoon I had this vision. I wrote it in my journal and it carried me forward into the days ahead. I want to share it with our readers today.
“Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you will receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.”
~ Isaiah 50:106-111
I picture myself in a cave. My eyes are open, yet I see nothing. It’s pitch dark. I hear a voice though. A gentle, inviting voice; confident and firm. It’s a familiar voice. Recognition of the voice makes my heart leap, and a smile breaks across my face. No one can see it of course because it’s so dark.
“Reach out and hold my hand,” the voice says. I turn and face him. Where’s your hand? I wonder.
I stretch out my hand and instantly it’s wrapped in warmth. How wonderful it is that I’m not alone in here! To think that the One who holds my hand knows the way out as well. After all, he made this place.
I’m tempted to ask him for some light so that I can make sure I don’t slip. But I realize it’s dark for a reason. He does not want me to see what’s in here. He wants to know that I trust him. Though I can’t see anything myself, I know he can see me. He promised not to let my foot slip.
So we walk.
At times, it feels like we’re going upward. At times, it feels like we’re heading downward. The walls of the cave expand and contract. There are no indications about where I am or how much longer this journey will be. Once in a while, when the terrain gets too rough or is covered in water, he picks me up and carries me.
There are other voices in the cave with us. Voices that taunt me. Voices that scare me. “Why can’t you just get your own light and navigate your own way?” “He’s taking you the long route, you know.” “You’re so pathetic.” “He doesn’t really care for you.” “How are you so sure he’s leading you out of here?” “You are such a fool.” “You’ll never make it out. You’ll die in here.”
I have no clue how these other voices know who I am but sometimes what they say starts getting to me. He knows this. When those times come, he gently squeezes my hand. Or he starts singing. Pretty soon, his rich melodious voice drowns out (and perhaps silences?) all those other voices.
He doesn’t tell me where we are going. Only that it will be good. As we walk, I imagine what it might be like when I finally get out of here. I envision a meadow. Wide open blue sky, wild flowers swaying in the breeze, birds singing as they flit from tree to tree. And grass, soft, lush, green grass…
“Pay attention now,” he speaks. I snap out of my reverie. He’s taking this opportunity to teach me things as we walk. Things about himself, things about this world, things about me and the rest of humanity. As I listen, I realize that I still have much growing up to do. I guess I’m okay with that.
One day, we enter a place where there is light. Finally! I’m surprised because it’s not as bright as I’d imagined. It’s grey and the colours are more muted than I expected. “The full sunshine is still up ahead,” he explains. Even so, I’m delighted. He’s brought me through the darkness! I look around and I see a friend. I’m not sure if I’ve really met him before, but my heart recognizes him. He sees me, too.
My friend walks over to me with a big grin, “Where have you been?” He’s been waiting for me.
I explain. I tell him about the cave and the One who led me through it. I tell him about the awful taunting voices and the lessons I learned.
“Hey, I’ve been there too!” he nods. Excited, we swap stories.
Suddenly, we notice Someone is watching us. Full of joy, we turn to him. Can we walk the rest of the way together? “Yes, of course,” he replies. “That’s why I brought you here.”
Now that I am married, I am glad God brought me into marriage. But I also recognize that the full sunshine truly is still ahead.photo credit: RedEyedRex via photopin cc; design: Olive Chan