"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

23 October 2005

Trusting in the Dark

Many years ago, a friend drove me home one night to change clothes between some more and less formal activities our group of buddies was enjoying. It was a several mile drive, and my friend one who had made some important decisions, and someone I could talk to honestly.

I told him my fears, the only person who had heard them. I described my place at that time as standing with darkness before me and nothing of value behind me. My friends mostly seemed to be going down the same old path, a path I had finally realized led nowhere (or perhaps worse). I didn't want to continue on that path. And yet . . . I could at least see something on it -- not least people I'd known and been at ease with for many years -- and in front of me: utter blackness, the kind in the caves in Missouri where Tom and Becky got lost, darkness you can actually see because you can't see through it to anything else.

And I was terrified that one more step would take me over a cliff into a bottomless canyon . . .

Well, with the help of loving words from my friend and others, I stepped into the darkness, and the path indeed took me over a cliff, and I died, and though I try to resuscitate myself pretty regularly, He helps me to stay dead as much as I'll let Him. It was worth it.

Years later, I made another significant change, and someone called me "courageous." I wasn't. That change was from one familiarity to another (how different can teaching be, wherever you do it?), and since the life was being choked out of me where I was, the change couldn't very well be for the worse even if it turned out not to be for the better. And today, a couple of similar changes later, it is certainly better.

But I find myself facing that darkness again. There is a change in the wind, a subtle internal voice pushing towards something new, but this time,
again, something I cannot see at all. The familiar calls to me, siren-like -- here is comfort, here is security, here are material needs met, here you know who you are and you are recognized and respected. It is not, however, like that path years and years ago which held no good; it is a good in itself, and that makes it all the harder.

But that other call . . . I've heard it before. It terrified me then, and following it was the best choice I've ever made. But still I'm terrified. I want to see if there's another cliff there. I want to see the path and where it will lead.

I wonder sometimes if I will ever truly trust. Trust is a scary thing. And because I'm always wanting life to go my way, answers to be those I want, I am often blinded to the blessings He holds out until I look back much later and realize . . . oh, that's what He was doing.

I have been reading Chambers again lately, and what keeps leaping out at me from the pages of his meditations is our need to know God. He is continually rebuking us for our propensity to work for God, to gain His approval by our good works. But what He wants, Chambers keeps reminding us, is for us to know Him and in that way become like Him.

Have no other motive than to know your Father in heaven, Chambers writes; God does not hear us because we are in earnest, but only on the ground of redemption.

Father, may I long to know You, and thus trust You, and banish the fear of not knowing where You are leading me -- because my Father will never lead me wrongly or to my ultimate hurt. May I learn to let You be my vision indeed, taking each step you open before me with a childlike trust in Your lovingkindness toward me.


Fieldfleur said...

I appreciate your honest accounts of your honest struggles. This trudge, turmoil, also marks the mysterious beauty of faith.
Lots of prayers. I'm glad that you have trusted friends to confide to!


Lisa (Froggyhead) said...

I should have known you were a Chambers fan. A beautiful, wonderful friend introduced me to the writings of Mr. Chambers. She is gone from here now, truly knowing God and no longer looking through a glass darkly. I will always remember her and be grateful. I am grateful, also, for your willingness to share your struggles with us. We're all going to get through this together.

alaiyo said...

Teri, thanks. It is hard, yes? But as you say, beautiful, too. I have been enjoying reading at Bo of the Bales lately, by the way, just haven't had time to respond to anything. Sounds like you have been having some good times and resting in His love lately.

Lisa -- I don't remember when I first encountered Chambers. I have the original version of his book and have been known to buy several copies at a time when I can find it for acquaintances. I love the language of it -- it makes me think and ponder instead of just saying "oh, yeah, I knew that" and shrugging it off as I go about my day.

It is so good to have family in this world, isn't it? Thanks for prayers, y'all.


Megan said...

Wow...how did i miss this entry? I guess God wanted to save it for me until I really needed it. Thanks for this rare thing, honesty. It puts the heart into others who struggle too.