The Castle beyond Fear

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.