If you receive my blogs via e-mail, or scroll through Facebook in hopes of seeing one, you’ll know that last week, there was nothing. Nada. I was straggling.
It all started innocently enough. We were headed out for a very “relaxing” vacation. With the car packed full, all the electronics suddenly went berserk.
WARNING: Low tire pressure
WARNING: Low oil pressure
WARNING: Passenger air bag alert
Every type of warning my car could give was going off right when we were leaving town. So, we did what I would have done as a single gal: turned the car off, and let it sit. After a while, we fired her up again, and all was well. She just needed to reboot.
One would think that would have given us an inkling into how our vacation would play out. But no-o-o-o.
We forged ahead six hours to get to our first destination: Florida Caverns State Park, and geared up for some spelunking (cave touring).
Those of you who know me, know that I do not do caves. They have bats. They are dark. There are very tight spots and you must squeeze between narrow solid rock walls to get through. They have bats. There are slimy, creepy crawly things. They are underground. Did I mention the bats? Walking around under the earth for 45 minutes, knowing that at any moment, I could be buried under the rubble of a cave collapse, left me a bit apprehensive.
The door into the cavern struck fear in my heart. Heavy, iron, dungeon-looking, it clanged shut behind us, sealing us in forever. Or so it seemed.
Our tour guide threatened to turn the lights off – um, well, he offered, as part of the tour – so that we could experience true darkness. My husband advised him not to do so, as it would cause me to run screaming through the cavern hurting myself or someone else.
It was difficult. There were times during the descent into the pit of darkness that we had to double over, practically crawling through narrow areas. We had to maneuver around sharp stalactites and stalagmites, being careful not to brush against them, for fear of slicing our skin. It was a hard path to walk.
I struggled. Often, rounding a corner, the guide and my husband lingering behind to take pictures, I felt totally alone. In the darkness. Panic would bubble to the surface.
Just when I thought we may never get out, there we were – at the end. The door opened and bright sunlight streamed through, guiding us.
After the caverns, we continued our journey to South Carolina. A recap for the next three days went like this:
Drove across six states; through two times zones; two storms (Hurricane Harvey at home, and a depression off the Carolina coast), and two deaths.
Yes, you read correctly. Two deaths. All in three days.
The first was a sweet lady, who lived a good long life into her nineties. Though a surprise, her death was expected.
The second was a close family member. A tragedy. Unimaginable. Numbing. A young life ended much too soon. I struggled.
Why, Lord? Why?
Cavern darkness threatened to overcome my heart.
Are you struggling with the darkness of grief or pain today? May I share some truths I learned in the cave?
1. We are not alone. No matter how dark it is, no matter if we can’t see our hand in front of our face, we have Christ in us. He will walk with us through the tight, dark, places in life. He is with us, even when we are bent over, crawling through the pain. Follow His light. “Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 HCSB
2. It’s a hard path to walk. No getting’ around it. But walk it we must. As much as it hurts, as physically painful as it is, we have to walk it. Grief is a stalactite that pierces our hearts. Remember, though, there is light. I slipped and crawled and struggled through the darkness of the cave before I came to the light at the end, but it was there. It took time, but I got through. You will too. And guess what…
3. We are stronger. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Trials make us stronger. Now, I’m no Ninja Warrior, and I have no intention of spelunking again, but walking through that dark cave made me realize this: I made it! With God’s grace, I made it. And, if necessary, I could do it again. “Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.” Romans 5:3 AMP
Thank you Father, for the light of Jesus Christ. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that ultimately we are stronger in You because of them. Amen.
Grace be with you,