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Words of Life

A Journey In The Darkness

By Danielle Strickland July 12, 2015 Words of Life

I spent some time journeying around Israel. My dad joined me there and we decided that it was the perfect opportunity to climb Mount Sinai. But we didn’t want to pay the tourist rates and have to experience the journey on the back of a donkey. So we sought out a local taxi driver and, accompanied by an Englishman who also didn’t want to pay through the nose, we were driven to the base of Mount Sinai. It was pitch dark and the three of us couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. The taxi driver literally dropped us off and sped away. We had clearly only bought a one-way ride! 

For a moment the three of us tried to get accustomed to the darkness. I suggested that what we could really do with was a torch. Right then our very new English friend reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen with a special light fitting on the end. Believe me, it sounds more impressive than it was. The power of the beam increased our ability to see in front of us by about 4 cm. Did I mention it was pitch black? 

So there we were, armed with a highly ineffective torch and nothing else apart from a large climb ahead of us. At the top of Mount Sinai we knew we would meet a monk whose job was to make tea for those who made the pilgrimage. Together we began our climb, scrambling over rocks but only seeing what was right in front of our faces. At one point two eyes confronted me in the darkness. My initial fears were quickly calmed when, with the aid of the pen torch, it became apparent that this was not in fact a relative of the sabre-toothed tiger family, looking for supper, but was actually a roaming cow. 

A couple of hours later we arrived at the top and were greeted by the monk and an incredible sunrise, as light broke into the darkness. To call it an incredible sunrise is to understate the experience. We saw the glow of the sun emerge from the horizon. It looked like it was setting the desert hills on fire. The glow itself (before the sun even really had risen) was overwhelmingly beautiful – bringing warmth and light at the same time. The glow spread, lighting the sand with fire, making the desert a glowing river of gold. As the sun rose, the depths of our souls were touched with warmth and light. The sheer power of that light was overwhelming. 

Below us we could see the winding path that those tourists who paid would have made on the backs of donkeys. It seemed to be a much safer way to come. I then turned and took a look at the route we had taken. To be honest I was a bit surprised. It was only in the daylight that I could see just how treacherous it had been. There were holes, and boulders, and many other obstacles that would have worried even the keenest climber. Sometimes when we can see where we are going we do not move forward because we are afraid of all of the obstacles we can see ahead. The darkness can sometimes be a friend in these situations. And the light we need to continue our journey is “just enough” for us to put one foot in front of the other. But all along the way we know the dawn will rise. 

But we had made our ascent. We had just enough light to enable us to make each step towards our goal. Yes, we could’ve waited for daylight but we wanted to see the sunrise from the summit. The light came as we moved forward; with each step it became brighter, and each step was towards our destination. The climb was more difficult than I had imagined (as are most of our journeys) but it was worth it. The effect the moment on the summit had on me was that I’d do it again, and again, and again. To see the sun emerge and the light spread and the warmth inside my own bones…it was all enhanced by the journey in the darkness, not diminished by it. And this is the point of our beautiful mess. The darkness is real, the climb is treacherous, and the conditions are never perfect, but the summit is worth it. The moments when we can see God’s light emerge on all that is our world – where revelation makes some sense of it all – where we can finally see clearly… it’s worth it. It really is.


Watch Danielle Strickland this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. Extract from A Beautiful Mess by Danielle Strickland. Copyright ©2014 Danielle Strickland. Published by Monarch Books. Used with permission of Lion Hudson PLC.

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