Many years ago when I was experiencing one of the most fearful times of my life, I was given an image. I believe it was a gift from God, to help me understand and to learn how God wanted me to live.
In the image, I was approaching a castle. I don’t know whether I was a weary traveler, a knight errant, or what. I only knew then that I was approaching a castle I wanted to enter. Inexplicably I knew that the castle was furnished with peace, hope, and joy—everything I longed for in those days.
But ringed around the castle was a moat. And I knew that the moat represented my fear.
I remember specifically that image coming to my mind over and over during those days. It wasn’t a nighttime dream, although it may have begun that way. I don’t remember that. I remember the image being in my mind during the day.
But it was always a dark picture. The air that enveloped me was shadowed with loss and loneliness. The water in the moat was black. I couldn’t see the bottom nor the edge of the other side. I couldn’t see how long it was going to take or what I would have to do to cross. I was in the dark, but the moat was darker than where I was. Dark, like my fear. Dark, the way I felt.
It was also dark on the morning when the image was resolved, when God gave me light to go forward. I was driving to church early one winter Sunday. I remember exactly where I was on the highway, seeing that image in my mind as I had many times before.
I was standing before the castle, paralyzed with dread of whatever was in that water.
And then God spoke: “Just walk right into it.”
I would never have said that to myself. I was so afraid at that time—afraid of feeling again, afraid of failing again. I was very afraid.
But God said in my mind, “I have given you a picture of where I want you to go. And you see in this image the representation of what is hindering you. I am telling you, ‘Walk right into it.’”
And before I could breathe, the second part of His message came clear: “Because I’ll be there.”
“I am here with you as you walk toward it. I will be with you when you come to the crossing. And I will be with you in it, as you pass through.”
Now get the picture: The Lord spoke to me in the darkness. He did not call to me from the light of the castle windows, simply saying, “Come to me.” I knew that’s what He wanted me to do—to go to that place where the windows glowed with warmth and light. Still, I was in the darkness.
And God was with me.
I didn’t have to wait until I reached the other side. God stood with me in the dark. And when I took Him at his word and ventured forward with my heart and mind, every step became light—until step by step, I had passed through the dark unknown to the place He had called me to go.
I have not been to that darkness again. I pray I never will. But I have not forgotten and will not forget the message of God: Fear not the darkest night. For the dawn waits not at the horizon but rises with you right where you are.