Our backyard has a creek running through it, nestled up to woods with both tall and fallen trees. Pretty much daily, we drop everything to run watch the deer trot through the woods, across the creek, and in to the field on the backside of our property. The other day, my husband took our three year old son, dog, and me for a little hike for the first time in the three years we have lived here. He had told us about things he had seen over there, but there was nothing like seeing it for ourselves and seeing our house from a different vantage point.
As we ducked under low hanging branches and pushed back prickly bushes, we followed the path that deer have worn on that land. We saw remnants scattered throughout the path of an inexplicable chimney, mostly covered with moss, where there were no foundations for a fallen home. We discovered beautiful quartz, gnarly yet beautifully decaying stumps, tiny buds hinting at spring, an old tire in the part of the creek that we can’t normally see, and a possible arrowhead. The sun hit just right to display our shadows almost as long as the trees were tall above our heads. This was all new to us. The three of us had never been this way or seen these things together. But others had been there and left traces of their presence. We will be back again, yet not in the same way we were that day. No person is ever the same even when they return to the same place.
Questions about the past strolled through my mind. What broke that chimney? What was that arrowhead used for and whose hand held it? Who did that tire belong to and how did it get into our creek? What were the struggles and triumphs of the person who tended the cows behind the fence they ran all the way up in those woods? What did the trees look like where our house now stands? How could we build a treehouse up there?
Our walk through the woods reminded me of what it’s like to be missing the old while longing for the new. Do you know what that’s like?
When we journey through a difficult experience, we pass through three stages if we are going to walk toward hope and healing.
We arrive at darkness when the loss first happens. And we curse it because it’s not how it was supposed to be.
When we start moving forward out of the initial blow of the difficult experience, we come to shadows and this…this is what I’m talking about. When we come to the shadows, we are caught between the light and the dark, what is and what was, the old and the new. We might find ourselves missing the old while longing for the new. Some might even find themselves thankful that the old has past and grateful for the new. Others might be longing for the old and dreading the future. The point is, in this part of the journey from grief to growing in Christ, we see how things were, how they are, and desire hope for what is to come.
The in-between is such a hard place to be isn’t it? But when we arrive at these shadowlands, we have a choice. We can be paralyzed by the past or fueled by the future.
We shouldn’t discount the past. We should take inventory of how it has accessorized and remodeled the scenery of our paths. Our pasts shape our land. When we see how it has impacted the places we must walk, we can both appreciate where we’ve come from and acknowledge what we’ve lost. But, we also shouldn’t dwell in it. We are a people created to move forward and to dwell in light, not loss.
In the shadows, in order to move forward, we must trust the One who has blazed the path already and come back to show us where to place our steps.
Our histories might impact the way we walk, but they don’t have the power to cement our feet to the ground and prevent us from walking at all.
With each step through life’s shadows, with each portion of our path that we walk on, we develop a deeper trust with God when we acknowledge that we can’t see on our own and we need His light to guide us.
And when we do that, we walk from hopelessness to hope. When we walk toward hope and with hope, we will eventually come into the light. The Light of the World IS our hope. He is hope with us through the old and onto the new. With each glimmer from Jesus illuminating our path, we bless the Light of the World for not leaving us to our own navigation skills or lack thereof.
You may see pieces of your old scenery on your path. These are parts of your story that put your feet where they are. But as you walk on the path from being devastated to being delivered, keep your eyes onward and upward, my friend, with the Hope of the World hemming you in, directing you by His Word. The best is yet to come.