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Hope for Rocky Terrain

We tread through the rice paddies every day, six times a day, to and from every meal. The little paths made from mounds of dirt are just barely visible above the hay. It is nearly impossible to look straight ahead and walk as the bumps in the road beg that your attention turn downward. In the mornings, the rising Asian sun is always a perfect circle of bright pinkish red, sitting low in the light blue early skies. If we’re lucky, it’s visible just from the middle of the fields. I could hear the oohs and ahhs from the people walking behind me, but I kept on ahead, eyes on the ground. I wanted to look up, but I couldn’t stop walking. The still voice inside me spoke out, “To be able to look at the light means to trust the ground beneath you.”

How, I ask, do you trust the ground beneath you when it nothing but rocky terrain? Nothing but visible and predictable bumps in the road? Full of lonely nights and loveless relationships? Overflowing with doubt and confusion?

What shall we make of this?

I was talking recently to a friend about whether or not personality types can change. For those wondering, I’m an INFP and it is the hill I will die I on. I love the artistic and emotional complexity that encompasses my type. We are fighters of ideas and feelings. We are the die-hard believers in love and happy endings. I love us.

The conversation drifted to my Race experience and how, at some point along the way, something switched in me. I became a person of reason and logic. I became someone who all of the sudden immediately needed near-tangible answers to back up the things I was always so sure of in my heart. I wanted to know why buffalos are the only animals that run toward storms instead of away from them and I wanted to know if I was even qualified to use that as the beautiful metaphor it was. I wanted to know if things like that really did have beautiful meanings behind them or if they were just more meaningless facts about the things in the ever-broken world we live in. I needed explanations for the universe and why it is. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?) But yeah.

I felt like I was being thrown into a black hole of midlife crisis at the delicate age of 18.

Why wasn’t the fact that “I felt it” enough anymore? When did I stop trusting my gut? All the sudden I looked up and the rock on which I had built my home had been shaken and laid in pieces in front of me. My entire being had felt the quake. The seeds I planted grew up only to wither again. The windows were shattered and the rubble was piling up on the ground that I was being told to trust.

For three months, I trudged through comparison. I waded through the murky waters of longing to be anywhere but here. Anyone but myself. I was knee-deep in a swamp of doubt in the wasteland where I was trying to rebuild my home.

I sometimes returned to the heart of who I was, feeling at home and resting in the closeness of the Savior I know. The Comforter and Friend. Only to swing back to the other side of questioning the innermost core of my being and in turn, my God. I was a pendulum waiting for someone to reach in and settle me at a comfortable balance between the two. Instead, I found only a widening gap between the reality of the infinite God of the universe and His close, personal, loving character. The awestriking feeling of not being able to comprehend His bigness translating into newfound beautiful feelings of reverence, however not separated from feelings of distance. My Spirit sang Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God one day and then rested confidently in His loving grace the next day. My energy is running out. My ground has become as uncertain as I.

He calls out, “I will make a way in the wilderness. I will bring rivers to the desert.”

My sun-baked Earth longed for the fruit.

The reality is, I enjoy the wrestle. I am tired, but I am not dark. I will fight my doubts, sword in hand, and then I will go on to clean up the rubble, building up my foundation, blood, sweat and tears. I do so being surrounded by the people and books of great advice. Interestingly enough, I cannot take anyone’s advice at face-value without questioning, but when it comes to books, if you give me a solid author, you might as well hand me a Bible. With their words in my hands, they become the all-knowing of all things concerning whatever topic they write about. However, receiving the word “truth” during worship the other night, begs differently. Naturally, I replied.

“What is truth?”

“I am Good. I am Sovereign.”

Alongside a listening prayer I received from a friend that reads,

“Daughter, why do you doubt Me? I am with you always, just as I always have been. You can trust me with every part of your heart. Take hold of all that I have put inside you, embrace it, trust it and go forth with it bringing light to all nations. I trust you. Take a deep breath and go.”

So in the midst of the rubble, I look to the Truth.

The truth is that He is always good. He is always sovereign. He is always here. He is both the holding up the ground I am walking on and encompassing the light I am looking to.

He whispers, “Trust in the Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge me and I will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3), “…[I am] striding ahead of you, right there with you. [I] won’t let you down or leave you.”

The song of my indescribable Father who reigns victoriously over my life from right beside me rather than a place of eternal detachment a million miles away. Brennan Manning writes, “To avoid mystery is to avoid the only God worthy of worship, honor and praise.” A breathtaking contrast of infiniteness and intimacy. The simplicity found in the confession of not being able to perfectly understand His complexity. Thirsty for trust in its purest form.

Fear of what lies before us and hesitance about the ground that will carry us there dissolves trust in the Father’s goodness.

In this, we hoist up our sails and beat on against the current, riding out the waves in His sea of goodness, trusting in His hand. Knowing that even when we reach the shore, He promises one set of footprints in our hour of desolation. Looking peacefully to the sun because we trust the ground beneath us.