My friend, Scott, wrote today’s WMD.
Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path”(NLT)
Let me begin by asking a question: when you’re getting ready to go somewhere for a vacation or a business trip, do you ever ask around to see if anyone’s been there before? Maybe you want to know what the best places to visit are or which restaurants have the best food. I think everyone probably has at some point. Here’s another question: if you asked your best friend if they had been there and they said no, would you start asking them for more specific directions and suggestions? Silly, right? You wouldn’t ask someone who’s never been in SC what the best way to get to Clemson from Atlanta was, would you? You’d want someone who knows, someone with experience, am I right? Now, set that thought aside for just a moment.
Be honest, have there been times in your life when you have had serious doubts about God? Maybe about His plan, or His love, or maybe even His very existence? I know I have. I also know I’m not alone. Have you ever asked “God why?” or “Don’t You care?” or “Where are You?”
I’ve had times, plenty of them, where it felt like it was all I could do to hold the crumbling pieces of my heart and mind together. And all the while I’m begging God to do something, if nothing else then just give me a sign that He’s there and He cares.(By the way, I’ve come to understand, He already did. In fact, He wrote us all a big long love letter called the Bible. It’s a wonderful guidebook to keep us from getting lost along life’s journey but also to help us find our way back if we do wander off trail).
Last week, a friend and I hiked a pretty difficult hike(about 3.5 miles each way) to one of the most unique and incredible places in the Carolinas, Big Falls on the Thompson River. If you’ve never been and are in good health, it is well worth the effort. It is a big and powerful waterfall that is surrounded on one side by this huge rock wall. When you first emerge from the woods, the wind generated from the falls is like standing on the beach as the tides roll in and the breeze washes over you. I’ve never been anywhere that comes close to it.
Now, please don’t do what I did, which was get within a mile or so of the car on the way out and realize I dropped one of my boots, then backtrack about a mile and a half searching for it in the dark (walking right past it about 20 feet from where I started searching). However, that enabled God to continue a word He spoke to my heart as we were climbing out.
As my friend and I were climbing up the huge, steep hill from the Thompson River back up to the trail, we started talking about a friend of hers who runs a ministry for drug addicted men. It’s not some fancy rehabilitation center that people pay thousands of dollars to come to. Instead, it’s run on nothing but donations and a lot of love and grace. You see, the director was once an addict himself. He’s been there. He knows these men’s struggles. He is one of them. He’s walked in their shoes.
As we were talking about him and his dedication, this thought hit me and I just spoke it out loud: “perhaps the reason God allows us to go so far into dark and frightening places in our lives is not because He doesn’t care or doesn’t love us. Could it be that once we have made our way back to the light, He knows that we are the only ones who will know how to go back and rescue others?” I think when we finally vocalize thoughts or ideas that God is giving us, they can so powerfully hit us that we are overcome with emotion. I know I was. Standing there on the side of this hill that runs straight down, I just had to stop and let the tears out.
But isn’t that what we constantly see? How many drug counselors were at one time an addict? How many sponsors are recovering alcoholics? How many preachers were once, like Paul, chief among sinners? Which brings me back again to my travel analogy, who better to guide someone out of the darkness than someone who has been where they are? That’s what I realized God was showing me, metaphorically, as I searched in the dark for my lost boot. Only I knew where to look and only I cared enough to go searching for it.
So as you walk through your valley of darkness, don’t lose hope. Keep your eyes open and your mind alert. In the end, He may ask you to go back for others. And don’t think He doesn’t care or that He doesn’t love you. The enemy will whisper that in your ear, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, I think you could make a pretty good argument that He holds a very special place in His heart for the hurting and broken and lost. After all, didn’t He say He left the 99 to go find the 1? One final thought: in the darkest places, light shines the brightest. Let your light shine.
God bless, Scott