God doesn’t want to leave you like you were before the addiction, or abuse, or affair, or relationship, or financial devastation, or diagnosis, or failure. He wants to bless you and introduce you to a whole new world of meaning and opportunity. But sometimes you have to fight through the night to get the blessing.
-Kyle Idleman, Don’t Give Up, 56
Lately my Sunday practice centers on the labyrinth at a botanic garden near my home. I miss church and grieve its loss, but I feel too bruised to venture back into a faith community just yet.
Instead, for now, I walk the labyrinth. That is my sacred space, my sacred time.
Today was cold and wet and I walked through puddles as the hand holding my umbrella grew numb. I didn’t linger, as I sometimes do, and no clearly worded epiphanies came into my head, like they sometimes have.
But what I noticed is that even though I’m five and a half feet tall and the stones marking the labyrinth are three inches high, it’s still hard, when you’re in the midst of the course, to see your way very far ahead. The path winds back in on itself; sometimes you come to what appears to be a dead end, and you can’t decipher much around the corner. You don’t know how far you have yet to go or when you will emerge. You keep walking and trust that you are following the steps to a design that will take you to the other side, even though you can’t see how it works.
This week I wrote in my journal, I don’t know if I’m in mile 25 of the marathon, or mile 2, or 150 miles out in the middle of the Sahara when the racecourse is the opposite direction. And the next day I opened Don’t Give Up and the first thing I read was the story of a woman who quit after a 16-hour swim, because fog kept her from seeing the coastline less than a mile away.
Which felt like a pretty darn precise response to my journal entry.
When you most feel like giving up, you are best positioned to experience God’s presence. It’s a strange thing that God can often be seen most clearly in the darkness of life. The quiet allows you to hear him speak. The isolation allows you to connect with him.
-Kyle Idleman, Don’t Give Up, 58
God is the God of labyrinths, too. And darkness. And doubt. And tears. And sorrowful nights in hotel rooms.
All the reading I’ve done this weekend has emphasized the need to walk through the pain to emerge on the other side. And with that, most of the writers have spoken of forgiveness, what it means, how it works, why it matters.
And then they talk about blessings and abundance.
For the past month I’ve felt like I’m on the cusp of something good. I don’t know what that means or what it will look like. I hope it’s not so subtle that I miss it; sometimes I have to be thumped over the head to pay attention. And I’m scared it’s “something good” in a vague, metaphorical sense, like having time with God and myself and a few helpful books in a hotel room. But I think it’s bigger. I think it’s going to knock my socks off. And independently of each other, both my mother and a good friend have made comments indicating they think so, too.
We have been taught to hope for too much to settle for less….We are destined to die with broken hearts and would have it no other way.
-Austin Fischer, Faith in the Shadows, 49
In the meantime, I keep walking through the darkness, through the maze. Putting one foot ahead of the other. Letting myself experience the pain so I can know the healing on the other side. Trusting that I’m nearing the end of this particular season, that my steps are following a pattern I can’t yet see but that will reveal itself in time to be beautiful, more perfect than what I could have designed, better than anything I could have imagined.
Trusting that once I have walked through the pain, I will break out into joy. Into blessing. Into abundance.
Open your hurting heart to him, and he will speak….He loves you, and he will never abandon you. In fact, it’s usually at your deepest time of need that he meets you, comforts you, and lifts you into a place where healing can finally begin.
-Craig Groeschel, Hope in the Dark, p. 48
Choose to live loved while you’re in the middle of the journey, and know that what He has in mind for you is so much more than you imagine.
-Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited, p. 125