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What it Feels Like to Climb a Mountain in the Dark with a Flashlight

May 18, 2019 5 min read

I’ve been wrestling with the Father a lot these days. 

What a Christian thing to say—wrestling. 

He and I are struggling together. I’m asking Him a lot of questions, and wishing He spoke a little louder. These days, I feel more and more like I’m inching through a dark room, reaching out to make sure I don’t run into a wall.

It’s been a step-by-step kind of year. It’s been a year of saying yes and hoping desperately that I heard the Lord right. 

You told me to step here, right?

As a kid, I imagined the Father would reveal this big, grand calling for my life. He wouldn’t give me the full picture, of course, but He would let me see where I was going. Each step would require trust, but not that much trust, right? After all, I knew where I was headed. 

That’s cute.

If there’s one thing I’m more and more certain of, it’s the uncertainty of where I’m headed. Am I headed to freelance writing? Am I headed to more book writing? Am I headed back to a full-time job somewhere in the States? Am I headed to a life overseas? I have no idea. My heart and mind are full of hopes, of big, scary, impossible dreams, many of which don’t seem like they’ll pay the bills. 

That reminds me—call insurance company. 

In this uncertainty, though, there is a certain kind of certainty. It’s strange, almost disorienting, and I have a feeling that this is the kind of normal I should come to expect in life. There’s this certainty that I am right where the Father wants me, even though I’m not totally sure where that is. There’s this certainty that He’ll help me see my very next step, that my next “yes” will be clear.

Of course I feel slightly afraid. I have questions and doubts. The vision for the days ahead is fuzzy to say the least, but in the midst of all of this, there is this still small voice that whispers over and over again, “Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.” 

Kristy and I recently came back from a writing retreat in the mountains of Chiang Mai. We stayed in this amazing hotel on top of a mountain, only accessible by a steep, winding road. It was as incredible as it sounds, with views that overlooked the entire valley. It would have been extra beautiful if the air had been clear of smoke, but as it was, we experienced a different kind of “breath taking”—like choking on the ash flying through the air.

The first night we drove up the mountain, we passed two accidents—bad accidents. People trying to go up. People trying to go down. The sun had set, and street lights aren’t really a thing on the mountain roads of Thailand. Most curves had those big reflective signs, but lots of turns seemed to come out of nowhere. A slight lapse in attention or a minor distraction could lead to a terrifying accident. 

So we took it slow, because we didn’t want to end up in a ditch on the side of a mountain; also, our headlights are awful. It was like trying to climb a mountain in the dark with only the flashlight on your phone. Super duper safe. 

Here’s the thing. We could only go as fast as our lights would take us, which seems like a strangely obvious thing to say. Little bit by little bit, our lights showed us the road ahead. They reflected off those big curve signs staked into the ground and gave us just a little heads up for the sharpest turns. Some turns and curves and hills seemed to come out of nowhere, but we had to keep driving in order to see them, in order to get to where we needed to go. Even in the darkness, the fuzziness, the uncertainty, we had to keep moving, trusting our dim lights. 

Welcome to my world. 

Welcome to life.

This beautiful, uncertain life we get to live is surrounded by darkness, fuzziness, uncertainty. It’s filled with questions. May these questions lead us to trust. And may this trust leads us to dependence.

A few years ago, I prayed desperately, “Teach me to depend.” This life of following Jesus—really following Him, pursuing Kingdom-size dreams, impossible, daring, risky dreams—leads to deep, deep dependency. It leads to deep trust. 

Or it leads to self-sufficiency, the belief that I can do this all on my own. This is what the Father and I have been wrestling with a lot recently, because this life is a balance. It’s a balance of coming to the table with our gifts and abilities and trusting that the Father will do what only He can do. We come ready for the battle and trust that the Father will fight for us and with us. We start walking down the road and trust that He will make our steps clear along the way. 

Because He rarely shows us the whole picture. Little by little, He shows us our very next step.

And this is beautiful and frustrating and amazing and scary. Sometimes it leaves us staring up a mountain road, the kind that disappears until we make the first turn. Sometimes it leaves us wondering if we will ever make it to the top, to see the amazing view below. 

But it always leaves us close to the Father or at least it gives us the beautiful opportunity to trust Him a little deeper, rely on Him a little more. 

These days, this is what I’m trying to do. Key word—trying. It’s hard. Somedays it feels impossible, but on those days—the ones that feel especially hard—I find myself pulled deeper and deeper into the Father’s love. It’s here that I find the courage to keep trusting, keep saying yes, keep traveling up that mountain road. 

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