“Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things he did afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” -J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit)
A few weeks ago we went with the youth group on a retreat at a camp not too far from home. The dining hall was a short walk from our cabin, but in the absence of streetlamps above us and in the presence of all sorts of stumps and twigs and rocks below us, it was necessary to have a small light to roam around at night. I relied on the flashlight app on my phone and as it poured out it’s pale white light, illuminating just a few steps ahead, I was reminded of the promise in the book of psalms that God’s word would be a lamp for my feet, a light for my path (119:105).
A couple of months ago I found out that I have lupus nephritis, which basically means that my body is now attacking not only my joints, but my kidneys as well. I am taking medication and I go to my doctor every few weeks to receive additional medicine through IV. My doctor is optimistic that twelve to eighteen months of this treatment should be effective in ridding my kidneys of inflammation. So, now, I pray and wait and learn to rein in my thoughts that sometimes like to wander into places full of darkness and despair: what if the treatment doesn’t work and I have to go on dialysis? Or get a kidney transplant? Or what if my kidneys fail altogether?
I’m so glad that contentment is something that can be learned (Philippians 4:12) and I’m so grateful that tomorrow belongs to God. Courage and contentment don’t come naturally to me, but by God’s generous grace, I sense something supernatural is happening inside me. There are days when I have been able to dwell fully on the beauty of the now and not worry about bridges I might not ever have to cross. In those times I know peace and joy are not just taunting illusions, but more tangible than my body itself.
Sometimes I wish the sphere of the light spread out before me was wider and higher, not just with my health, but I long to know what God has for my children and our church and our family’s future in general. However, I’m not sure if that knowledge would change anything and I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to handle it responsibly. In His book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis says, “ Future is, of all things, the least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time- for the Past is frozen and no longer flows and the Present is all lit up with eternity…Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
So, today I feel healthy, hopeful, and thankful. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know the end of the big story in which my little story is only a part. I know the light that shines in the darkness and He is enough for each step.