I’m going to be really real about something that I struggled for years to break through in, but didn’t know how to talk about. In my head, I knew the answer, but getting the answer from my head to my heart was another matter.
It was a simple question, Can I really trust you, God?
I had experienced His love, I had experienced His presence and His loving arms around me. I truly knew He loved me. I just didn’t quite know if I could trust Him.
I tried spending time in His presence but then I began to be afraid of the intimacy with God idea because all I knew was that about seventy-five percent of the time, when you get that close to people they end up requiring something of you, and then using your pain to control you.
I remember telling God how scared I was and then proceeding to fill a trashcan with teary tissues when He said, “I do not violate or control because I am love, anything that violates you is a violation to me because you are my daughter and my spirit is within you.”
I rejoiced for a long time in that truth, but then I began to have a few doubts. I didn’t want to, I just did. Would God abandon me in my darkest moments? If I said yes, to whatever He asks me to do, would He really go with me? What if He asked me to do something I just couldn’t do. What if He loved me just so that He could use me and control me? I hated that I had so many doubts in the presence of His overwhelming love so I shied away from spending time with Him.
Then one day the darkness closed in. For three days and nights, it was a blackness and a fog so deep I didn’t know if I’d ever find my way out. I would have a few moments where I sort of went into an auto-pilot mode and functioned, but then I’d feel myself slip away again. I knew truth, but the more I reached for it the more the blackness tried to consume me. All I could hear were the sounds and voices of control. I tried running to God but His face kept being blurred out by faces from my past. I wrestled so intently that I saw nearly every hour of every night, and felt no rest because even my dreams tormented me. I had to force myself to eat and I cried uncontrollably. I read truth and spoke truth to myself, but I struggled to believe it. I was angry, and the angrier I became the more desperate I became.
I went outside at night and paced, and talked. I wrote. I sang. I tried to tap into the love I knew was there, and I prayed. I battled once again with the question of just ending my life rather than fighting, but I couldn’t, so I fought. I ran, even though I didn’t know what I was running to, hoping that somehow if I ran long enough and hard enough I could somehow outrun the torment in my mind.
I didn’t know how to talk about what I felt. People came, they loved me, they asked me if I was okay. They stood with me, they held me, they let me cry. I tried to talk, but I didn’t know how to tell them in any sensible way what was wrong. I battled the darkness. I reminded myself that the sun shines even behind the clouds. I tried to stop it. I felt and actually heard people praying for me while I lay in that darkness. I could not make out the words they said, but I physically heard the sound of many voices praying for me.
Early on in this battle as I lay there musing over the 23rd Psalm, God spoke in the middle of the torment, and this picture carried me through the darkest points when I could not see Him anymore. I believe it is a picture that He wants you to see and carry with you as well…
My dear lamb, I hear your cries. I found you tangled up in the brambles. I see your pain. I stood by as you fought my rescue, so afraid that I would hurt you. I waited. I whispered comforting words. I sang to you. I chased away the wolves and stayed by you so the wolves that hurt you would not be able to come back and kill you, and when you said, “I need help.” It was like music to my ears.
I untangled you, and wanted to bring you back into the sheepfold with the other sheep, but you were scared because you still bore scars from the time wolves dressed as sheep took you out of the fold and hurt you. Seeing your fear of the fold I took you to a safe green pasture and fed you by a gentle stream and allowed you to frolic in the water and drink. Then as the night approached and the wolves began to howl you began to shiver and suddenly you realized you were alone with me and the wolves and far away from the fold.
You tried to be brave, but I could see the fear in your eyes as you wondered if I was a trustworthy Shepherd. You watched as I built a fire between you and the stream and made a soft bed for you to lie on. The howl of the wolves came closer and you shivered at the sound. So I lay down between you and the woods placing my own body between you and the wolves. Then finally you looked up in my eyes and I could see you felt safe.
As the wolves tore into my back, you began to cry as you realized that I turned my back to the wolves and my face toward you so that you would not feel alone. You told me over and over how sorry you were that the wolves were tearing at my flesh. I did not respond, but just stayed there and comforted you.
As morning came and the sound of the wolves died away I told you we could stay here as long as you needed but we both knew you needed the community of other sheep. You said you were not ready yet. In that long second night as you cried, I spoke and asked you how desperate you were, and you told me you were desperate. Then I asked you to do something really brave. I asked you to tell another sheep you needed help. I knew it was time for you to trust another sheep. It was time for you to tell another sheep you needed to be rescued instead of another sheep seeing you needed to be rescued and stepping in. You were terrified that the sheep would peel off a mask and be a wolf in disguise so I promised I’d be with you and would protect you.
I was so proud of you when you whispered to another sheep the words, “I need help.” I knew that was hard for you, but you did it and it was so freeing, but you were still terrified. You now knew you could trust me, but you didn’t know if other sheep could be trusted. Then to your amazement those sheep surrounded you and lead you right back to me.
It was then that you realized that I had already defeated those wolves a long time ago and that they could not stand the sight of me anymore. It was then that you realized that the wolves had already torn into my flesh years ago so you could be healed. And that was why I stayed silent and simply protected you. You watched as those wolves were bound and banished from your mind never to scare you again as long as I stayed with you. And then you collapsed at the foot of my cross and wept as you realized for the first time in your life that trust and surrender were absolute freedom.
If you find yourself asking God, if He can be trusted- ask Him. Allow Him to show you. He is Love and has no desire to hurt you. Rest in His loving arms, allow Him to hold you and whisper truths to you. Allow Him to protect you in the wilderness, and lead you to gentle streams. Allow Him to show you that He can be trusted.