When I was a little girl, I dreamed of living somewhere quiet, beautiful, and spacious. But other than my walk to and from school along a concrete sidewalk, I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I think that’s why I loved watching the TV show Little House on the Prairie, imagining life in the woods as Laura Ingalls, skipping among the open fields, trees, and creeks.
I didn’t grow up like that. I grew up in an eight-hundred-square-foot duplex in the middle of a busy intersection in Silicon Valley. I didn’t grow up with a pa at home, and my ma was not was like Mrs. Ingalls.
I got used to being the good girl, the responsible one, who didn’t want to cause any trouble. But by always wanting to make sure everyone else was doing okay, it was easier for me to ignore my heart and put my needs to the side.
But when I was in fifth grade, I had an experience that God used to let me know my heart was not invisible to Him: I got to go on my first ever hike! It was the year our class went to science camp. I boarded a big, yellow school bus, lugging a sleeping bag borrowed from my aunt, with my pillow rolled in, like pigs in a blanket, and I headed for the big redwood trees in the mountains.
When I jumped off the bus, I felt what half-pint Laura Ingalls might have felt — happy, free. I looked up at the trees and felt small and safe. Even the air smelled different. I could breathe.
Our camp counselors said the big event was the night hike. We gathered at the trailhead after sunset, hyped with adrenaline. But everyone fell stone silent once we learned we’d be sent hiking alone from point A to point B — in the dark.
We were told to walk quietly, but if we got scared, all we needed to do was to call out. Camp counselors stationed at different points along the trail would help us.
That night was one of the most beautiful nights I have ever experienced. The light foliage felt like a soft carpet on the trail. I wasn’t afraid. The stars glimmered between the lattice rooftops of the redwoods.
The deeper I journeyed into the trail, something beautiful and unexpected happened: I began to see in the dark. I realized that when I knew someone was there to help me, I no longer felt overwhelmed or alone.
Looking back today, I’m reminded of what the psalmist whispered to God,
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there . . .
your right hand will hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:11-13 (NIV)
That experience of walking in the dark on the hike helped me learn that when we’re not able to see what’s ahead of us and feel overwhelmed, God’s love can light the way for us.
God’s love is like a light in the darkness that helps us feel comforted, calmed, and no longer overwhelmed.
Nothing in life — no stress, confusion or overwhelming troubles — can keep God’s goodness from us. God can see us in the dark, and His voice is our light. His voice of love whispers to us, “Lean into me. Let me love you. Confide in me.” As we listen, our spiritual eyes adjust, and we begin to see the beauty of the journey we’re on.
In life, we will not always know the way, but the God who loves you not only knows the way but intimately knows your way.
Does the path in front of you look dark and scary? God’s love and His Word can light the way ahead. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty or feeling stuck where you’re at, hear God’s whisper to you:
Beloved, I see you. I won’t leave or forsake you. Call out for me, and I’ll take your hand. I’ll turn the darkness into a place of rest, lit by my love for you.
One practical way to chase away the darkness is this soul care tip: intentionally write down God’s promises from Scripture. His Word is a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (Psalm 119:105). This month, instead of a gratitude list, I’ve decided to keep track of God’s love notes from Scripture. One of my favorites is James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” God’s promises give us a reason to light up, so when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can mediate on His Word and let it guide us to where we need to go.
Thank you, Jesus, for walking with me, even in the dark. Give me eyes to see You now, so I can lean into You. Help me call out to You when I can’t see what’s ahead, and teach me to walk as Your beloved today. Amen.