The only thing that can endure deep doubt or anxiety is deep faith. You will not allow yourselves to enter into complexity, ambiguity, mystery, or the partial darkness that everything is, without a very strong faith. You will close down. I have found that those who can tolerate ambiguity and hold darkness are those who rise to great faith. Faith gets purified every time you go through the cycle of doubt and failure. On this wheel of fortune just about everything is purified: our self-image, our God-image, our worldview. A full life could be described as these three worlds—ever expanding.
From Richard Rohr
We don't immediately realize we are out of the desert or the forest or the cave or whatever metaphor for the depths to which God has invited us, implored us, or, in most cases, shoved us on our faith journey. We blink a few times and stretch, still feeling the scars of the journey twinge a bit, and wonder what the new vision before us is. And we are probably hungry for Taco Bell.
What we see is different because we are different. No one descends with God and comes up the same. God moves forward and drags those of us too stupid and too courageous along. Because it takes that magical and mystical blend of sheer stupidity and sheer courage to drop into the depths with God. No one sane does this. Just take a look at the Christian mystics, the prophets, the saints. Great women and men, but edging on bat-shit crazy at times.
Sanity and intellectual reasoning stay put. "All is well," we hear our egos whisper. No need to wonder what if. No need to upset the proverbial apple cart. No need to see what might be waiting deeper in the forest. No need to give up power. Many people stay right at the forest's edge, where they can still see the way out, where they are still in control, where they are still safe.
But some of us wander deeper into the woods, towards the darkness. That siren song of God that only stupidity and courage allow us to hear and follow. Following is the real trick, isn't it? All of us hear God calling us to that new place. We can ignore God's call quite well, though. We humans have a knack for turning up the radio to drown out the voice of the Holy.
Something happens for some of us. Maybe the volume can't be turned up anymore. Maybe we just get tired of listening to the music that is playing, so we finally listen to God's whisper, and we follow. Following God is flat-out dangerous. People should pay attention to the warning signs and quit listening to the Jesus is my Boyfriend music that says a journey with the Holy One is all fun and games.
It's not. Just ask anyone who's been there. Worth it? Yes. Easy? No. Remember Jesus? He got crucified.
Because you will be changed. What you held dear will have been forced from your hands on the journey and replaced with something else God wants you to embrace. What you thought you knew you realized you didn't know. You have new gifts and treasures for the next part of the holy journey, which may or may not be something you expected. Probably not, actually, because if you had expected it, you would have been, well, safe and in control. Nothing changes or grows, not even faith, without sacrifice.
And the story of the journey is yours and yours alone for a while. Why do you think Jesus so often told those who encountered his miraculous self to go away and be quiet? Let the slow work of God take firm root in your soul, and keep walking until you blink and stretch. Let your eyes focus on the new vision before you and listen as your soul sings for what God has prepared you, for you are among those stupid and courageous enough to yell, "Yes!" to God.