Beyond the desolate land.

She knows from passed-down stories that a glance over the shoulder could mean death. Not in this case, it isn’t the point. There is no longing to go backward, to feel that darkness again, to be enveloped in pain or sin or destruction. No. There is a longing to see what protection the Maker provided, to move forward from a place that was necessary to the unseen fortress of faith that she goes to live in now. That fortress didn’t exist before the place behind her.

It was just as dark as she remembered. Desolate. Horrifying, for she could see even more now than before. Those cool streams of water gracing her aching feet were refreshing, and thanks to His goodness she continued her search for them through that land, for they provided a path along the edge of a dark, crumbling abyss. The mist, by now had rolled off the edge and disappeared. Her heart leaped at the danger that once surrounded her and she rejoiced at the small gifts of protection and encouragement that were given to keep her moving forward.

How interesting that place becomes, once one is beyond it. It felt like mourning on the surface, but it had been so much more. Her heart beats steadily and joyfully now, even though the blanket of confusion in the midst of that place had felt so heavy, so burdensome. Each step, faith building forward, had trampled down fear, guilt, shame, confusion, doubt into something solid and beautiful and worthy of the difficulty. It had not existed before, this strength. Each step up and out of that desolate land provided new hope, a horizon of beauty that was unseen beyond the tall, cavernous walls of her heart.

That place she looked back to, her fears, her temptations, had been conquered and transformed into a glorious strength of faith. No, He hadn’t left her, even in the dangerous places, He led her and helped her and showed her the way. The promises that hung on her lips now rang truth and confidence into the world around her. She sang the blessings as she approached the golden light on the hills just above her, a place of peace and restoration just waiting to embrace her heart.

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Land of Mourning

Everything was dark. The sun shone only a dim light when it rose. The fear, the uncertainty, that deep, tangled knot seemed to grow ever larger. His voice was like a silent wall, not to be heard, but standing, unmoving. Nothing came from Him, no encouragement, for anything in His word she had read felt like a useless platitude in this day of despair. And any words addressed to him only came back empty, wanting, measured by the shortcomings of her humanity.

Her feet wandered in this dreary and terrible place. A thin mist of fog covered the places she stepped; even if it were brighter out, she couldn’t watch for her own safety as she explored the land of mourning. She hoped His words were true, but wondered when she uttered them aloud, desperately clinging to promises in her heart. She felt the weight of the oppressor in every sinew of her body; it struck her and slowed her and tried to consume her. And with each step she resisted, counting aloud the words of Him who is eternity, pulling them from the wells deep in her heart. She would not give in.

A rare step, here and there, a cool stream of water would flow over the top of her foot, under her arch, between her toes. These moments were the most refreshing pieces of this dreary place, but of course she could never see where to find them because of the mist. Any one step forward, even in search of the cool water on her feet, took all of her might.

The chains, they pulled at her and creaked and resisted with every movement. Etched in each link of the chain were feelings and words and things that hurt oh so deep.

Torment.

Hurt.

Anger.

Rage.

Bitterness.

Despair.

Lies.

Injustice.

Wrong.

Blame.

Guilty.

Betrayal.

She had to escape, but didn’t know how, and the days extended longer and longer in front of her weary heart.

Mourning