There were back streets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that I usually avoided. The streets were confusing, narrow, and filled with people. These were the first roads to flood during any kind of rain, making them even less desirable. An uneasiness of spirit always came over me in this part of town. After one party, though, I offered to bring a friend home, knowing that she lived in one of these back alleyways.
It was late and dark by the time I dropped her off. Being that I was unfamiliar with the area, I got turned around and took off in the wrong direction. What I already assumed to be a confusing system of roads became even more so the farther back I went and the more turns I took. This part of town had no streetlights and some roads weren’t paved. I couldn’t see the big bumps and pot holes, and I could feel myself beginning to panic as I saw some men looking at me, a lone, foreign woman in a minivan in a questionable part of town. I had no clue how to get out of this maze.
I called my husband and he couldn’t do much else than to try to calm me down and tell me to keep going. I hung up and cried out to God to help me find a way out. It was dark and completely terrifying. Suddenly, a large truck pulled out from a warehouse. I knew, with great relief, that a truck that big had to be heading toward a main, familiar road and so I followed it at each turn it made. As we pulled up to the main road, I shook with relief, thanking God for the truck driver who had no clue how he had rescued me that night.
A few months ago, I found myself in a similar position–except this time it was not on the back roads of Phnom Penh. I was having a period of intense spiritual darkness and doubt. I was questioning everything that I believed about God and it terrified me. The way was dark and undesirable and I didn’t even know how I was going to get out. And then, in His great, abundant mercy, He heard my cry and pulled me out of the darkness. His Word was the truck I had to follow out of a confusing, oppressive space.
Psalm 46:1-3 says:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
And the Psalm ends with this:
“’Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
We don’t know what this year will bring. 2016 ended with Aleppo, with Berlin, with Turkey. It included a crazy and divisive election in the United States. It also ended with Jesus, our Savior, on the throne. I want to make 2017 a year where I remember that God is my refuge. There will be times this year when the waters will roar and foam and when the mountains will tremble, but He can lead me out of the darkest of places. He is always near to raise my sinking feet and heart.
It’s too easy for me to let other voices crowd out His. This year my desire is to let His Word steep long, infusing my heart with the flavor of His truth.
Are you in a season where you feel the earth is giving way?
Is there a passage of scripture you read to remind yourself of His goodness?
Do you have a story of how God has led you out of darkness?