Sometimes, life looks a little bit like these woods; if there’s a path, I’m not seeing it. Mind you, I can see beauty and possibility, but definitely no clear or obvious path. The path is overgrown, overshadowed, and unknown to me. And you know what, I don’t like it.
I like to know what happens next. I like to have the answers. I like to think I can do this all on my own. But that’s not how life works most of the time. And I get that; I even understand why, at least deep in my heart. I understand if any of those three things were true — I knew what was going to happen, had all the answers I needed, or could do this journey alone — I wouldn’t need faith.
Even so, I still yearn for those three things because it seems easier. It seems easier until.
Until the world’s brokenness threatens to break me.
Until life’s struggles seek to steal my hope and my joy.
Until the darkness closes in.
Until the chaos overwhelms me and I can’t find my way out.
Until the hurt and struggle threaten to consume me.
And sometimes, I let it. I let my circumstances break me and I allow myself to feel the raw and vulnerable emotions that have built up inside. I give myself permission to not be okay, but to hurt and to rail.
Not for long, but for just long enough.
Just long enough to let my heart cry its tears or clench its fists or lament a loss or circumstance that makes no sense. Just long enough to expel the lies and strongholds that pin me against my fears and doubts.
If not for this just long enough time, I believe my heart would become too heavy to hold the Truth I need.
If not for this just long enough time, I believe bitterness would take root and cynicism would become my natural response, replacing love, grace, mercy, empathy, and compassion.
If not for this just long enough time, my burden would be the only burden I could carry and I want to be able to help bear the burdens of others, to help others know hope and peace and joy.
Sometimes, life is like these woods with its overgrown and unseen paths draped in a thick, dark fog, making any passage or progress seemingly impossible. Sometimes, like traversing these woods, sometimes all I see are the trees and the obstacles, but not the path and I can barely pick my way through the brambles.
But that’s okay.
Because God not only sees the path, He knows the path. He created the path.
And so I can trust Him. I can turn to Him. I can seek Him and cry out to Him. In those just long enough times, I can be real and I can be honest and I can be me. I can be the me who is overwhelmed or angry or hurting or stuck. I can be the me who is messy and uncertain and scared.
I can be wholly, unconditionally me. And I can seek God in my chaos. I can cry out to Him, asking Him to help me, to guide me, to be with me.
And when I do, He will guide me. He will be with me. It’s what He longs for — to hear my voice and to draw near to me as I seek Him in these overgrown woods of my life right now.
Standing here amidst the thorns and brambles and dark shadows, I sense Him. I hear His voice whispering to my heart, “This is the way you should go.”
Friends, if you can’t see the path before you. If you don’t know what to do next, it’s okay to stop, simply stop. Stop right where you are, take in the beauty of where you are (because even here, there is beauty), and lay claim to your hope.
And then listen for His still, small voice. I promise you, He is with you. He is right there with you, saying:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8 (ESV)