He came into my office to pick up an Angel Tree application, then stuck around to tell me a devastating story of truth and consequences. He told me about how his actions had wreaked havoc on those closest to him, those he loved the most. Now he was stuck behind bars while his family dealt with the aftermath, one trial after another, and he could do nothing to support them, care for them, or protect them.
By the grace of God alone he carries on today, yet he is one of the most joyful and sincere inmates I have met. He is honest about the burden he carries and the weight of it on his soul, but he is genuine and kind to those around him. And people notice, staff and fellow inmates alike.
“I would encourage you,” I said, “with words I often need to hear. I hope and believe that the Lord will lead you to victory, that this season will eventually end and your family will be restored. But remember that your victory will not be your greatest testimony. Today, it is your faith and endurance in the trenches that will inspire the men around you. When your deliverance comes there will be a whole new audience who will be encouraged by your story, but you will be out of reach to the men who are still dodging bullets in a fox hole. So take courage in the struggle. Trust God for the victory, but hold fast in the trenches, for this is your greatest testimony.”
I have been waiting for a sense of victory before sharing this journey through my own valley of doubt. I wait because I feel like I don’t have the authority to write the things I want to write until I have succeeded somehow. Until I have completed the journey and can look back and say with confidence, “This is the way.”
But that’s not the point, is it? After all, until the veil is lifted we will never see the answer clearly. Instead, we find encouragement when we share the journey with one another. We don’t find strength in knowing the right answers, we find strength in companionship. I can endure being lost if I’m not alone. But who can stand against the emptiness of isolation, though he know all things?
My words are heavy and somber, dare I say a bit melodramatic? But that is because my faith is being tested to it’s core. The underlying questions that motivate me are challenging the very framework of my belief system. But I’m beginning to realize that if I keep trying to do this on my own so that I can look back one day and proudly say that I made it, “here let me show you how,” then I surely will fail.
Besides, if I am going to pour myself out in a sloppy mess on the Internet, I might as well do it while no one is listening, right? But if you have stumbled across my path, then I hope you find encouragement in the journey. May your faith be strengthened in the trenches, for we are here together.
If you found my little corner of the aether, then you may have been searching out some of the questions I am asking right now, too. If so, stick around for a minute and read some of my thoughts. You can get the story of why I’m walking this path on my About Page, or start at the beginning with my pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago.
If my questions and insights strike a chord with you, I would love to hear about it. What questions are you asking on your own journey? What discoveries are you making along the way? How is God loving you, and how are you learning to love Him back?