The dark path

But that was a long time and no matter how I try
The years just flow by like a broken down dam.
There's flies in the kitchen I can hear 'em there buzzing
And I ain't done nothing since I woke up today.
How can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say.
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go
~John Prine~

Searching.  I am sure I have questions answered, so positive I practically skip instead of walking.  And then, in the darkness of a new time of testing, I turn my ankle in the same holes.  One minute, I have the clearest sight and surest perspective, as a worshiping woman confident in her faith.  The next, I am blinded by my ignorance and my tears as I struggle with the weight of the world and wonder from where help will possibly come.

Last week was Amelia's worst week.  I was suffering the worst heart rhythm issues I've had since last summer, and it was demanding my attention so that I might employ the limited means I have learned to prevent major catastrophe.  And I failed my comprehensive exam in my doctoral program.

I've been told that the testing and the agony and defeats are all signs that I am on the wrong path.  That the spiritual path planned out for me is a smooth one, with only an occasional divot...not like this one I am on, riddled with dents, rocks, and sticks on which to stumble.  I used to picture my "life path" as a mowed path through one of those ethereal forests I read about in books.  A smooth path, perhaps a short growth of grass, clover or wildflowers.  Filtered sunlight dappling the landscape.  Bird song lifting the spirit as I danced and twirled through the life God planned for me.

This place is very different.  It is a real forest.  The path is just a footpath trod by a few before me.  The thick underbrush hides the stones on which I turn my feet.  I constantly bend to push the branches away from my face.  The air is thick and close, and the sun shines through only rarely.  The light is a strange, dark and hallowed green.  There are thorns that scratch my legs, and the trees and brush on either side grow so thick they are impenetrable to my eye.  Am I navigating correctly?  Should I turn and go back, revisit some milestone to be sure I am still headed the right way?  What dangers lurk in the forest surrounding me?  I feel exactly how I feel coming home down the long valley behind my house, on a footpath just like the one I've described.  I have "peace that passes understanding".  If you are a stranger to my path, to my home, your only response to my sureness will be consternation.  But I am sure this is the path home.  I know it in my bones.  It doesn't matter a whit what the path looks like, nor how many stumbles, scratches or bumps attend my way down it.  It leads home.

There is so little I am sure of right now.  I am not sure how life will go for my sweet Amelia.  I don't know how epilepsy will affect her siblings.  I have no comfort for my tears at night.  I don't know how God is expressing love and mercy in my life right now.  I don't know with what clarity I will reflect back on this time in 5 or 10 years.  I don't know if the tens of thousands of dollars I've spent on a doctoral degree I have been called to study for will be wasted or not.  As my heart flips awkwardly in my chest, I don't even know what the next seconds hold.  Life is uncertainty, at best.

But I do know that the words of John Prine in the song I quoted above - however achingly beautiful and reflective of the struggle that is this uncertain life - are not my life's song.  I have found that "one thing that I can hold on to, to believe in this living is just a hard way to go".  Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage, in the valley of weeping (Psalm 84:5-6).  God - the one who "will be who He will be" - the one I cannot understand...He is my one thing that I can hold on to.

In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus.

You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
Give me Jesus.
And when I come to die,
Give me Jesus.

Take time to watch this video. She says it better than I.