I love how deep inspiration sometimes comes from the most common conversations and experiences. Last night was one of those moments.
I took the baked tilapia out of the oven for dinner and realized I needed a lemon from our backyard lemon tree. It was very dark outside. But, after living in our home for 8 years, instead of getting a flashlight to light the path, I figured I knew the path well enough to feel my way around in the dark. There’s a concrete path that leads all the way to the tree, so I figured I just needed to follow the well known path.
Easy enough, right?
Five steps into my little journey to the tree I tripped over a large plastic lid from one of our yard bins that someone – who will remain unnamed – left out. Grrrr. I stumbled, twisted my ankle, and almost fell. Since it was so dark, I was afraid of what other things might have been left out, so I limped along cautiously, with my arms way out to each side, leading with the tip of my toe preparing for something else that might trip me.
But after just a few more seconds of walking, my eyes adjusted to the darkness and all of a sudden I clearly saw my way to the tree. I was amazed by the light since just a few steps earlier I couldn’t see any at all. I ran over to the tree, grabbed a couple of lemons, and turned to make my way back to the house. As I started my way back, I looked up and saw our home, brightly lit and full of the people I love. I realized how profound the light is for our path. And I thought about how scary it is when we first enter the dark places of life, like when I first entered recovery and when my mom was first diagnosed with brain cancer.
We can’t see anything when we first step out of the light of comfort into the dark unknown, so we move along the path with very little confidence. But just like my walk to the lemon tree, God shows us the light we couldn’t see before. Each step becomes lit well enough for the next step, and before we know it, we come to the end of the darkness, and we can look back and clearly see his provision. And as painful as life can be sometimes, his light is always enough for the next step.
It humbles me to look back on God’s faithfulness to me during the dark times of my life. There were times I didn’t think there would be any more light for me. I thought I was doomed to live in the dark. But God had a purpose, and he was always there guiding and blessing beyond what I thought possible. He has taken me each step through many difficult times.
On my personal path with losing my mom, I see others taking their first steps into the darkness of severe medical diagnosis and loss. I’m moved by their grief and paralyzing fear. Their pain compels me to ease their journey by sharing the light I was given, just like countless others have shared with me. I want to tell them to keep going, that there’s enough light just ahead, and there are gifts along this path of loss. Gifts they’ll never forget. Gifts that produce more light in the world. Gifts that are meant to change our lives forever.
Each day has its own grace and light, and we can’t borrow on tomorrow’s. We must stay present to accept the light for today. If we focus on tomorrow’s problems, as I’ve done so many times in my life, we’ll miss the grace and remain in a perpetual state of fear and projected worry; we’ll doom ourselves to misery. Jesus knows our tendency to want to see the entire path, so he told us not to worry about tomorrow. Trust me, he gently says to each of us. I see everything and I have a good plan for you. You don’t have to walk alone. Just follow me. I’ve got this. The entire path isn’t for us to know; as a wise person once said, the future is a beautiful mystery. And once we accept it as such, we’ll focus on the work and joy of today.
During my times in the dark waters of life, I’ve discovered that life is really about three things:
1. Humbly accepting the grace for each day, (receive) 2. doing the work that God puts in front of me each day, (share) 3. and joyfully relinquishing the results of each day to him. (trust)
When my head hits the pillow each night, I want to look back on my day and see those three things: Receive, share, and trust. There are two sources of light here on earth: God, and God working through us. I pray we take a risk and boldly share the wisdom and insight we’ve learned. We need each other’s light for our journey.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12