I was standing in total darkness. My eyes were open, or at least I assumed they were, but I might as well have been staring at the inside of my eyelids. The ground beneath my feet was solid but rocky and seemed to slope downward. There was a chill in the air, a biting chill that seeped past my skin and stung my bones, and the air smelled of something rotten. Death.
With arms outstretched before me, I slid a foot forward, feeling the ground for sure footing. The rocks shifted and the ground gave way, but before I could lose my balance and tumble pell mell down the sharp incline a hand enveloped mine, my right one, and held me up.
Don’t ask me how, but I knew it to be the hand of my Lord. Jesus. It felt like any other hand of any other carpenter–large, calloused, strong–but there was something different about it. Without saying a word he pulled me forward, down the rocky slope. My feet slid and shifted but his hand never lost its grip on mine. As we descended, the temperature dropped further and the wind picked up.
Again, danger loomed.
I was confused. Why would he be leading me into danger? “I don’t understand, Lord. Why are you taking me down here?”
His voice was soft and firm and carried over the hum of the wind. “Don’t be afraid. I’m with you.”
I started to protest. “But, the–“
“Trust me. Just trust me.”
Finally, the terrain leveled. I still couldn’t see a thing, blackness surrounded me like a shroud. The ground was uneven and littered with loose gravel, baseball-sized rocks, and crevices.
At one point, the wind was so fierce and angry I feared for my life. It howled and roared like an angry devil and pushed me to the limits of my balance. Suddenly, we stopped and Jesus pulled me close to himself and held my head against his chest, shielding me from the wicked elements.
“I don’t understand,” I yelled above the raging wind. “Lord, what’s happening? I don’t understand.”
“You don’t have to understand. Trust me,” he whispered and, oddly, I heard his voice over the roar as clear as a church bell on a Sunday morning.
The wind eventually settled and we started moving again, weaving and dodging, my feet slipping, my knees buckling, his hand holding. After what seemed a journey that would never end and without warning, Jesus lifted me from my feet and cradled me in both his arms.
“Lord, I don’t–” I heard his feet splash into water and the growl of the current, a clap of thunder, and rain pelt my face.
He tighted his grip on me and said, “Trust me. Just trust me.”
His feet never faltered as he trudged through the water. I have no idea how deep it got but at one point I could feel its icy tongues lick as my heels.
After a while, the rain sputtered and stalled and we were on solid ground again. Jesus lowered me to my feet and once again took my hand in his. He then led me up an embankment I could never have scaled on my own. When we reached the summit the air began to clear and lighten, great black clouds parted and a ray, a single beam of light, pierced the darkness and warmed me.
Still holding the hand of my Lord, I watched as the light pushed back the darkness and revealed the terrain we had just traversed: a deep valley, barren of life, dotted with death, and scarred with a crevice that ran its length and formed the word CANCER.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”