After winding down a long twisty road with a wall of rock on one side and a steep drop-off on the other, I came to a dark tunnel that led straight into the heart of a mountain. I couldn’t see the light at the end, just the yellow lines in the middle, telling me to keep going.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those little yellow lines. When all visibility is gone, when merely a handbreadth of light is all you can see ahead of you, those painted lines across the pavement are literally saving your life in that moment. They’re keeping you from veering off course. They’re pointing the way you should go. And they’re saying you’re not at the end. There’s more ahead of you. Just keep moving forward and you’ll see.
Maybe that’s where you’re at right now, traversing a dark road, waiting for the light at the end to appear. Maybe you’ve been in a long season of one hardship after another, and the summer’s brightness outside doesn’t match what you feel inside. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. And yet . . .
No matter the circumstances around us, there’s always something ahead of us, and there’s always Someone inside us guiding us forward.
We are never left without recourse. There are things we can do, even while we wait for a particular season to end. Like the yellow lines on the road — pointing the way forward to reach the other side — the following things have helped me through those challenging seasons.
1. Turn to God’s Word.
When life’s road gets bumpy, we often turn to easy comforts, like food that soothes or TV that numbs. Let’s open God’s Word instead and soak in its truth. Let’s invite Him to speak into our moments and reorient our thoughts toward Him.
2. Connect with God’s people.
Too often our pain makes us want to withdraw. We isolate ourselves in an attempt to protect our hearts from further injury. Unfortunately, this usually ends up having the opposite effect. Isolation begets loneliness. Instead, let’s ask a friend to meet for coffee, and more than anything, let’s be sure to connect with His family on Sunday mornings. After all, family and community were His ideas from the beginning.
3. Give thanks for God’s gifts.
Nothing takes our negative thoughts captive more than turning those thoughts toward all the amazing gifts God has given. It can be as simple as making a list of all the things we’re grateful for, but more than the things, let’s give thanks for the people in our lives. Oh, what a treasure we find in our loved ones!
4. Seek out ways to bless others.
This is just plain fun. When we’re in a funk and having a hard time snapping out of it, let’s find ways to be a source of joy for others, especially those we may not know very well. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Perhaps write a handwritten note of encouragement to an old friend or offer a warm smile and say hello to a stranger you pass in the store.
5. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
When life has taken the wind out of our sails, let’s remember to lace up our shoes and walk outside. There’s nothing like feeling the warmth of the sun on our backs while breathing in the cool fresh air. And when we catch a glimpse of His handiwork, let’s stand in awe of His wonder and worship the Creator in all His glory.
When we’re intentional to do all five of these things, we move toward hope when the road is long.
After driving through the shadowy tunnel, the yellow lines in the middle eventually led to the other side, and the whole earth opened up to light, where the landscape before you takes your breath away. You have to pull over to take it all in — the majestic granite rock on both sides, the waterfall to the right, and the trees filling the valley below.
The entrance into Yosemite Valley is dramatic, going from utter darkness to sheer delight. I think it’s another picture God has painted for us to remind us that, yes, the brokenness of this world can feel like a long dark path, but soon — sooner than we might think — the gates of heaven will open and the presence of the Almighty will be the only Light we’ll need. On that day we’ll behold a Beauty beyond anything we can imagine.
Friend, if you’re on a long hard road right now, don’t give up. Keep pressing forward.
Trust Him in the darkness, and He’ll lead you into goodness. It’s a promise.