God in the Dark: Practice
by Esther Hizsa
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:11,12
After my spiritual direction session with Joel, I felt light. That picture of Jesus holding me in the darkness changed everything. He was not outside my problems, living in their solutions, but with me in each and every one of my predicaments. What a wonderful thought to savour on my bike ride home from Abbotsford on a warm evening in June.
However five kilometres into my ride I got a flat. I groaned, turned Gracie upside down and got out a spare inner tube. But the spare wouldn’t inflate and the one that was flat wouldn’t hold air long enough for me to find the hole and patch it. I phoned my husband, Fred, at work. He couldn’t think of anything else to do but said he’d call back after he checked the bus routes. I tried inflating the tube again and again but the flat rubber would not respond. The stupid tube didn’t seem to care that it was six o’clock and I was seventy kilometres from home.
I waved at passing cars. The upturned bike and my small female frame worked in my favour. The third car stopped. A fellow named Dave and his wife was returning home from a wedding. They took me to the bus loop. But when we got there, the bus running west was finished for the day.
Dave rubbed his chin then suggested I use the sink in the washroom of a gas station to submerge the inner tube underwater so I could find the hole and patch it.
It was worth a try. In the washroom I stuffed paper towel into the drain hole of the tiny sink and filled it with water while trying to pump up the inner tube and locate the hiss before the tube deflated. Meanwhile Fred phoned a couple of times with more sympathy than advice. Each time I stopped to speak to him the water drained away and so did my patience.
But the morning’s experience was not forgotten. I knew God was with me while I grouched at Fred and got mad at the tube. And I knew God could read my body language, which quite clearly said: Make yourself useful, will You?
Over at the gas pump, a man in his thirties returned the nozzle to its holder and put the gas cap on a new silver pick-up. I left Gracie propped up against the bathroom door and ran over to plead with him for a ride.
“We can take you as far as Mount Lehman Road, if that helps,” he told me.
“Sure,” I replied even though it was only a few kilometres away.
He put the bike in the truck and I hopped in next to an empty infant car seat.
“You’ve got a baby.” I said to the woman in the passenger seat in front of me.
“A little girl, three months old and boys, two and five,” she replied. “This is the first time my husband and I have been out alone since our daughter was born.”
“I’m ruining your date night!” I exclaimed.
“Not at all,” they replied.
She thought a cab to Langley would cost me twenty bucks. He thought fifty. After he made a few calls we found out he was right.
“That’s way too much money,” he said then turned to his wife, “Why don’t we have dinner in Langley?”
“Whatever you say, dear,” she replied.
I offered to pay for their gas but they wouldn’t take my money. Neither would the driver of the #501 bus to Surrey Central.
He must have noticed one of Gracie’s tires was missing when I secured her to the front of his bus because he handed me a transfer and said, “This one’s on me.”
The bus meandered through Langley, Walnut Grove and finally arrived at the skytrain station forty minutes later.
“I’ve met a half a dozen kind and generous people today,” I said to the driver before the bus came to a stop, “and you’re one of them. Thanks a lot.”
“My pleasure,” he said.
A half hour later I was home.
The next morning Fred inspected the spare inner tube for less than a minute before he recognized it wasn’t defective. I just hadn’t pushed hard enough on the valve to open it.
What a simple solution! Just like the time I was locked in the curing room when I was five, all I had to do was push harder to get out of trouble. Both times God could have told me this but he didn’t. Now I knew it wasn’t because he didn’t want to help me out of my darkness, but because he wanted me to find him in it.
I have spent a lot of my life trying to get out of dark places like depression, grief, problems or a myriad of uncomfortable feelings. I always thought if I could find out how to push open the door and get out, happiness would be just outside. As a result, life became a series of “problems to be solved instead of mysteries to be lived.”
I must have read that pathetically proverbial line in a dozen different books. But I never understood it until God flicked on the light and I found him with me in the dark.
Now this doesn’t mean I don’t prepare myself better for long-distance bike rides. Trust me, Gracie’s tires are now lined with puncture-proof Kevlar and I carry a better spare. But that won’t prevent things like this from happening. I will feel helpless again. And God will be there.