The Middle of the Story

12:26 AM

A few years ago, while traveling with a friend, I found myself deep in the heart of the German countryside. We had decided to take a few days out to pursue God heart about some decisions we were making involving our ministry. We agreed the first day we would pray individually, then come back and discuss with the other person what we felt the Lord had spoken to us. 

As I set out that afternoon on my lone prayer walk, I spied a sprawling forest to the west of the hotel.  Having read one too many fairy tales, a stroll through a German forest seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up. Making my way down the dusty pathway, I became slowly engulfed by the forest cathedral. Trees towered above me in all directions, allowing only tiny shafts of light on the path ahead. Peering into the mysterious woods around me, I noted the ancient moss clinging to lowly stumps on the forest floor. Nothing much like that in California, I thought to myself. 

The smell of pine mingled with fresh earth intoxicated my senses and I contentedly talked with God as I walked along. After a few hours, the surrounding trees melted away from the path to reveal high brush with a few lonely outposts meant for game hunters. The formerly bright summer's day was quickly turning into a cool, dark evening. 

The path soon turned into a winding, unpredictable nightmare as the creatures of the night began to stir in the bushes. Quickening my step, I pushed down the overwhelming sensation of being watched. What had I been thinking wandering off alone in the wilderness of a foreign country? The sounds around me grew louder while I attempted to distinguish human from animal rustlings without much success. 

As the darkness began to fall in earnest, panic swept over me and my fast paced walk turned into a full on run as I attempted to beat the night. Abruptly, the path came to an stop as I burst out of the forest and nearly collided with an oncoming car. Crossing the highway, relief flooded my senses as the path led me to the most stunning field of purple wild flowers my eyes had ever seen. I let my hands brush over the soft petals in delight while passing through the obliging field. Lifting my eyes reluctantly from the splendor, I laughed to myself as I spotted our hotel.

It was a silly moment of my life. Anyone who's read a German fairy tale, knows very well they shouldn't go wandering off alone in the forest! However, as I was speaking with the Lord tonight, the memories of that day came rushing back so vividly I had to put them on the page. 

How quickly a story can change. One minute you think you're about to make headlines in the local news as "Foreign Woman's Remains Found Scattered Across Forest. Guilty Bear Still Unidentified," and the next you're walking through a field of wildflowers wondering if you really have died and gone to heaven. 

I love a good story. Hand me a novel, and I'll disappear for days, feeding off the fantastic lives of beloved characters like a squirrel at a bird feeder. However, there is one great flaw in my page-obsessed avarice. I've never quite been able to stick the middle. When I was a teenager, I prided myself that I could devour a 300-500 page book in a day or two at most. However, what I never cared to admit was the fact that I tended to skim the most desperate parts while careening towards the inevitable happy ending. 

Little did I know, this folly became a part of how I lived my life. Yes, I endured pain and sorrow, but rarely did I stop to read between the lines and learn from the experience. I became an expert at distracting from pain by rewarding myself with pleasure. 

What's the harm in that? You might say to yourself. Who really wants to endure what they can mentally escape? While I in no way recommend some sort of emotional self-harm routine during difficult times, I do put to you the fact that lessons unlearned will be faced later in life. 

These past two months, I've been led down a dark and seemingly endless path. I've been stripped of nearly everything in life I could count on. From my job, my husband and my baby, to my future, my home, my calling, and my dreams. And I must admit, I grieve those things deeply. But as I look around at my personal wilderness, I recognize that I've been here before.

The circumstances may have been different, but the outcome was the same. From a sure and hopeful future, I have been wrenched into uncertainty, nothingness, and pain. And as I stand here amidst the unmistakable ashes of what should have been, I am choosing to do something I have never done before. I have stopped to wait. I want to go racing down this path and out of my current stage of life. I want to look up at the author of my life and demand that He change the story or I'll walk off the page. 

But the author is under no compulsion to relate to his characters how their tale will end. He only promises to finish the story himself. In fact,this particular author has taken so great an interest in the story, He's written Himself into it.  

And that, is where you find me. In the middle of my wilderness path, peering into the darkness ahead without any idea which way it leads or what dangers I might meet along the way. And though I can't see my way forward as the night comes on, I sense that there in the distance is an open field filled with wildflowers and just beyond.... home. 

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  1. This is beautiful, Rachel. (Love your name btw) ;) I can relate to where you are at currently in your journey. The middle of the story- never a fun place to be, and yet aren't we all there, to some degree? Our stories to not end until He calls us home...eventually. Until then, there is hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for a flourishing future. Hope that He will make all things new. Because that's what He is so good at!
    I appreciate your vulnerability. Thanks for sharing, and blessings to you- in the middle. :)

    1. Yes! Loving yours as well Lol! Absolutely true. Our lives are lived from the middle. Blessings to you also :).


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