Landscape from Young, NSW 2011

Dale

A Hint of Light

When I was four, or maybe five, I got lost. I was with my 'little' cousin Dale who was visiting our farm with his Mum and Dad. Dale and I must have been happily playing and wandered off from the house into the scrub while the adults talked. I think we went happily enough - I can't actually remember! Where my memory begins, is in a place of tall overhanging trees stretching around us forever, in every direction. The place felt dark and threatening and I was very afraid. I knew we were lost.

I felt very strongly that I was responsible for Dale, because he was only the little kid. I had to get us home safely. The trouble was, I didn't know where to go!

In the midst of my fear I saw that in one direction there was just a hint of light. It was a trifle lighter through the trees in one direction, and the ground rose ever so slightly towards the light. I said to Dale, "This is the way we should go - over here. This is the way home". And off we set, with me in the lead.

Except that I really didn't know if it was the way! I remember it with startling clarity; it made a deep impression on me. On the one hand I was quite conscious that I didn't know the way home. But on the other, I felt very clearly that this was the way to go.

I remember it seemed an age before we got out of the scrub. I have a feeling we walked holding hands. Finally, through the thinning trees, I saw the outlines of the big farm implement shed begin to take shape. I remember my immense relief. Suddenly, I knew where I was! Only a few hundred yards and I would be safe.

I think there comes a time for very many of us when we realise we are lost and alone. We are on our own. It can be the physical reality of being lost as a little child, although more often it's when we are much older and a different kind of lostness. But there comes a time we could well describe as being like the trees crowding in around us, dark and menacing. A time when we are deeply afraid, or perhaps a time when all our feelings are shut down, and we just don't know what to do.

God says in that situation,
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;,
I have called you by name, you are mine.,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;,
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;,
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,,
and the flame shall not consume you.,
For I am the Lord your God,,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
      (Isaiah 43:1a-3a)

God promises to take us through all things It's poetry of course, not literal. Bad things will happen. But the faith witnesses to an experience, and hope of never finally being left alone.

In those times when we are lost - or indeed, in those times when we know exactly where we are and it is a huge struggle....... in those sort of times I believe that often God's promise is fulfilled by us being given a glimmer of light somewhere in the trees. Somewhere we are shown hope - and a way to go. Jesus, who shows us exactly what God is like, said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:15)

Again and again through my life, I have seen "a glimmer of light", so to speak. I have had a feeling of where to go and what to do. It hasn't always been strong. It wasn't always totally clear. And it certainly isn't always easy. But slowly I have begun to feel, yes - I am going the right way. To go back to my story, I'm not home yet. I can't say with 100% certainty that I'm right. But for me life like when I was that little boy walking out of the scrub. My steps have a growing confidence and freshness and strength, because up there ahead of me I can see something! Not very clearly yet! But it's there and I reckon it's the shed and I'm nearly home safe.


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