For the past year, I’ve really felt like I’ve been stuck in a pit. It’s been confusing and dark at times. The worst part about the pit is that you can kind of see that there is light and a better place above, but you’re stuck. The walls are high. Kind of like this wall that was behind a London hostel I stayed in last January.
If I cold just climb out of the pit on my own, believe me, I would. One of the truths in life, though, is that we humans tend to dig deep, deep pits. The weight of sin is so large that we don’t even realize that we are in a pit half the time, much less have the wherewithal to get out. And that’s why we need Jesus. He came down to earth and created a way out. He died on the cross so we don’t have to live in the pit anymore. He is the way, the truth, and the light. Jesus said, “ I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me (John 10;14).” He leads us to green pastures, to a life of purpose, to salvation.
Living in a pit is an interesting phenomenon, though. For some, it almost feels comfortable because it’s familiar. It actually takes a great deal of trust to get out of the pit. You have to trust that Jesus really knows His way and that wherever He is leading will be better than the cold, dark, familiar, and seemingly comfortable pit. That’s a big deal!
Plato’s Republic talks about a pit of sorts in the allegory of the cave. The people live in a cave, devoid of light and greenery. One person managed to get out of the cave and see the life above, but he’s faced with a dilemma of whether or not to go back into the cave because he knows that he will be killed once he does. The people in the cave are so “comfortable” they are willing to kill the very man that could lead them to true life! This points to the story of the gospel and the struggle of our human hearts.
We look for comfort in tangible things right in front of us, but miss out on the bigger picture. We often miss out on life outside of this dark cave and in the light because following someone, Jesus specifically, out of this pit requires trust in the things unseen. It requires hope in something better, a perspective beyond life in the pit.
That something better is described in Isaiah 62, the restoration of Zion.
“You will be a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand,
and a royal diadem in the palm of your God.
You will no longer be called Deserted,
And your land will not be called Desolate;
Instead, you will be called My Delight is in Her,”
Our God will not desert us on the journey. He has called me to such a time as this.
Out of the pit “we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5: 7),” as Paul writes.
The really beautiful thing is, when we trust in God, we believe the gospel, we have been transformed. Paul continues, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passes away, and look, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).” I am convinced that trust is the key to growing in relationship to God and renewing our hearts in Him. That is, to “draw near to Him, wait on Him, bind yourself to Him” for “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40: 28-31).”
I thought about this verse last summer when I was in Greece.
I sat under a tree in Athens and reflected on the legend of Icarus. The Greek myth is the story of an expert crafts man Deadalus who makes wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son, Icarus, to escape from Crete. Icarus’s father tells him to follow a path not too close to the sea or the sun but of course, in the elixir of flight, Icarus fly’s into the sun, the wax on his wings melt, and he crashes into the ocean. Here is the big lesson for me– I can’t make my own wings and expect to fly. Relying on my own inventions without God will make me crash into the ocean every time.
Trusting the Lord is a radical act of faith and the only way to walk is with him. Being a Christian is not a calculation or philosophical theory, it is an everyday lived experience of bold, life changing trust. I agree with John Steward Mills, “there are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized, until personal experience has brought it home.”
Trusting God is kind of like swimming in this river–exhilarating and difficult, and also the only path through the confusing forest.
So yes, some things in life are confusing, but the character of God, that is crystal clear. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “but God has no history. He is too completely and utterly real to have one.” Indeed, when Moses asked God what to call him he replied, “I AM WHO I AM (Exodus 3:14).” He is constant, sovereign, my rock and my good Father. I can take heart, for He has overcome the world.