When Ryan and I first started dating he was still living in our hometown and I was living a nearby city. Tiny hometown. Big city. Ryan invited me to drive on back to the hometown and meet him at a friend’s house where everyone was gathering. I was nervous. Unlike him I hadn’t maintained friendships from high school and hadn’t seen these people in years. I wasn’t familiar with that particular area of our hometown (admittedly I was a transplant, an Army brat and his family had roots hundreds of years old) and worried I wouldn’t find my way on the dark back roads. Hearing my hesitation Ryan assured me I would be ok; told me to look for the big outdoor light and it would be the next house on the right. He said I had nothing to worry about, just watch for the light. Well, in the end his idea of a “big, outdoor light” was just a 60 watt bare bulb on the front of an old shop but I don’t pass that light anymore without having a moment of nostalgia.
In much the same way that Ryan assured me to just watch for the light so we must also have faith in God’s light. That night I was wrapped in the darkness of the country backroads; now I’m wrapped in a different kind of darkness. That night I had Ryan on the other end of the phone (albeit spotty cellular service); now I must rely on God to be on the other end of my prayers. That night I found my way because of a small light and now I must rely on God to help me see that small light at the end of the tunnel that grows larger the closer I draw to it. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp for me feet; a light on my path.” In these moments of darkness, when my soul is weary, I try to turn to God’s word to find the light again.
Nothing prepared me for the tiredness, loneliness, no free time-ness that widowhood has left me with. I can put a happy face out to the world but they can’t see the hole in my heart. Light has a hard time finding its way in when my schedule is packed with work and kids’ extracurricular activities; when the demands of home outrank the demands of self; when everything you acquired and planned for together has become the responsibility of just you alone. And yet in Matthew 4:16 God reassures us that “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Man, I feel like I live in the shadow of death. Ryan’s death hangs over me like a great, grey cloud every moment still . . . except those that I CHOOSE to open my eyes and see the light God is shining for me. It’s a choice that’s hard to make. Jesus provides His reassurance as well in John 8:12 when he says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of life. What is that? How do you find the light of life in the shadow of death?
You see, even though I have faith, even though I believe, I still struggle. Faith to me is a verb. Faith is constantly seeking the hand of God in our lives. Faith is sharing our belief with others. Faith is opening our eyes to see the light. Faith is fighting through the grey clouds that shroud the valley of the shadow of death and coming up on the mountaintop bathed in God’s light. But it is a fight some days. We are only mortals. The devil tries to snare us, to wrap us in the cocoon of depression and blind us with darkness so the light is out of sight. That’s when we must dig deep and open ourselves up to the Lord and His light. We must carve out time in our busy days – for me time is one of the most precious things I have. But everyday I must find time to be with Him so the darkness does not take over.