by Rachel Bowman
“You’re safe. I’m right here,” I said as my youngest daughter grabbed my hand.
It was pitch black. My stomach sank. I could not see my hand in front of me.
We were deep in the cold, damp earth on family vacation at the Luray Caverns. We were almost at the exit when the guide turned off the lights. “If you stay in this complete darkness longer than 15 minutes, you will begin to develop cave blindness. Your pupils fully dilate, and your eyes begin to adjust to the darkness. If you stay too long, your eyes get acclimated to zero light. When you do finally step into the light, you are temporarily blind because your pupils cannot remember how to retract.” I was desperate for him to just turn that light back on, but my eyes weren’t ready.
It's like that in life, right? We spend so much time in dark, troubling times when the light of His goodness comes, our eyes cannot even remember how to see it. Betrayal, heartache, stress, the pandemic, schedules, people pleasing, addictions, job loss, relationship loss, grief, death, sickness, pain — the list of darkness we face in this world seems endless. I have experienced my own pit of dark, cave blind despair the past couple years.
It can seem like we are walking in the depths of the earth alone, in pitch-black caves with no light to escape.
It can seem like we are pressing into the Lord but feel and see nothing.
It can seem like a Dark Night of the Soul, as St. John of the Cross described it.
It can seem like giving up trying to find Light is the only option.
It can seem like being weary, lost and stuck is our fault. Just the trick the enemy wants.
The truth is, the Light is always there, right beside us. Sometimes we don’t feel, see or hear Him, but He is there, so very close. His name, Emmanuel, means God is with us.
He left the perfection of heaven to be with us. He proved His love. He proved He is a man of His word. Yet we lack confidence in our everyday life because the darkness seems to surround and trick our eyes.
The Bible reminds us 83 times “God is with you”. Here are a few:
• Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you.
• Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
• Matthew 28:20 I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
• Genesis 28:15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever I go.
• Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, I am with you wherever you go.
• Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for You are with me.
If you feel surrounded by complete darkness and cannot see your hand in front of your face, remember He is with you. You are safe with Him. He is present and holding your hand.
Remember to keep going, keep pressing into His light because as your eyes adjust to His goodness, you’ll begin to see. Keep walking knowing and trusting the Light of the World is with you and guiding you. May courage, security, and faith rise up knowing His presence goes before you every day of your life. May that fact give you the strength to make the next step amidst the unknown toward the Light today.
Know you don’t have to live cave blind forever. It also is not cured in an instant so patience is key. There will be days of light, days of darkness, and days that are grey as your blindness lifts. Expect this. Keep going, one moment at a time. The Light of the World is walking with you, even in what seems like the darkest cave or valley. Don’t let the cave blindness fool you; you are making progress — keep going, go further, and trust Him. He created you for more, for adventure, and for His glory. Grab his hand daughter, you are safe with Him. He is right there with you in the darkness. Light is coming.
““No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a musty cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.””
Luke 11:33-36 MSG
Rachel Bowman is a mom to four in four years after infertility, a church planter, pastor, and writer of words. She enjoys icy-cold coffee, a Lego-free floor, and encouraging women to lead where they are. Her and her husband launched Anchor Church in 2017. You can follow her on social media at @rachelmariebowman.