I would have to say that I have recently journeyed down the most desolate road of my Christian walk to date. Our journey with God, much like Frodo’s journey through Middle Earth, (You’ll have to forgive my frequent LOTR references as I have recently returned from the great country of New Zealand.) or like Dorothy traveling through the land of OZ, is an ever-changing road that looks different with every fork and every turn.
In youth everything is illuminated.
The trees on that road are green and thin as the sun beams through the branches lighting your way. You have travelling with a group of companions, all walking together heading toward that first fork in the road, college.
Things are good.
There is a bitter sweetness that comes over you with a hint of anxiety as the group splits at the fork. While you still have the fellowship of some of your companions there is a change that comes over you as the crowd thins and the trees get thicker. More companions begin separating from the group as they choose that path that leads to marriage and family.
As you walk the road you begin to find trinkets that others have left behind along their journey. As you pick them up and stuff them in your bag you notice how dark it seems to be getting. As you approach the next fork in the road the last of your companions splits from your company. You turn your head to gaze down the road that has been laid out for you, and discover that you can only see a few feet ahead. It has become dark and the load you carry, the one that holds the treasures of this world that others have left behind, has become very heavy. That bag will be your only comfort for you now walk alone in the darkness.
Darkness, if not overcome, will corrupt the mind.
You know you should have left those things lying in the road. They were left for a reason right? There is something inside of you that knows you should have never picked them up and yet you have now become dependant upon their presence because you cannot find anything else to comfort in. The voice that guided you through childhood and throughout your youth, that instructed you on which turn to take at each fork, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the canopy that hovers above your head. Almost. You know that the voice is still speaking instructions but those trinkets you have gained offer a pleasing distraction in the midst of the consuming darkness. You can no longer hear the voice that offered guidance. You have abandoned Him in the precise moment you needed Him most for the temporal idols that now offer you a false sense of security.
This has indeed been my reality.
The Israelites, when brought out ofEgypt, abandoned God, who was showing them the way to the land He had promised to give them, for idolatry and disobedience. As a result, what should have been an eleven day journey across the wilderness ended up lasting forty years.
My life has, in every way, reflected that of the Israelites. These past four years, after graduating from college, have been some of the darkest years of my life. In this darkness I have picked up so many things that, in my lack of discernment, I have placed upon the altar of my worship and called them god. As a result I had forgotten what God’s voice really sounded like. And in my desperation I began grasping at whatever was in my bag of idols to give me purpose and comfort.
This is the life lesson that I am now grappling with. In my madness I was somehow able to catch a faint whisper of God’s voice that had been carried, for a brief moment, by a breeze that brushed past me.
It was enough to stop me in my tracks.
I had been so distracted by the idols that I was carrying that I completely lost sight of the light, although faint, that was still dimly lighting the path.
And so now begins the shedding of weight that has so slowed my journey. The light has become slightly brighter and that voice has turned from a whisper into hum. While the canopy above me is still thick I am now back on the path instead of wandering aimlessly through the forest. I now possess hope, for I’m beginning to see the faint shimmer of sunlight peering through the brush ahead.
Its not that I chose the wrong turn…It was just never supposed to take this long.