“If you hold your breath for the whole time in a tunnel you can make a wish and it will come true.”
I don’t know where the idea came from, probably some game we made up during a long car ride. But from that point on, every tunnel offered wish-fulfillment … if we could make it through the darkness without oxygen. Some tunnels were longer than others, like the one we’d pass through as we left San Francisco. You could hear loud—exaggerated—gasps for breath each time our vehicle broke through and emerged on the other side.
I still hold my breath in the blackness of grown-up tunnels. Hoping for the light at the end to come before I pass out from a lack of air … from weary exhaustion …
But that saying isn’t true … about the wishes. Neither is the one about the light at the end of the tunnel.
We weren’t made to live life holding our breath.
Waiting for relief around the next bend. The saddest days are the “just make it through” ones.
If I can survive the work day.
If I can last until the weekend.
If I can hold out until vacation … the next holiday … when the kids move out.
They all represent the same struggle. Hoping for a distant light at the end of a long, difficult journey.
But I don’t have a light at the end of my tunnel.
I have a light in my tunnel.
This thought barreled into me like a train (sorry gals, couldn’t resist). What if this whole time my tunnel has been full of lightbulbs, I just haven’t flipped the switch?!
Reading through the gospels we see how Jesus turned to people with compassion, in response to their faith. I think of the woman with the issue of blood, 12-years-headlong into her tunnel. She had “suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had” (Mark 5:26). Then she heard the reports about Jesus and literally reached up to touch His garment. Right there in the middle of her tunnel.
“And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease'” (Mark 5:34, NIV).
Some of you are shaking your heads at me. She was healed. That was the end of her tunnel.
It was only the end because she reached for Jesus. Any other action and she could have stayed on the unlit path, perhaps for the rest of her life.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – Jesus (John 8:12, NIV)
It’s not the surroundings that bring the light, or the circumstances that make burdens light. It’s the Savior.
God wants to have fellowship with us during the difficult times. He’s not waiting at the end of the trial for us to connect again. He wants to bring light to our dark path. Because we need light in the blackness.
“Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:30, MSG)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105, NIV).
Thankfully, I’m not in a 12-year-stint of bleeding. But I do face my tunnels. Sometimes I’m thrown in unaware, holding my breath and praying my son will finally calm down after a difficult day. Other times I see it coming as we face busy seasons in life or work, or simply dark blips in the life of our relationships.
But I come with more hope now. I’m not waiting for some magical glow at the end of the black underpass. Circumstances may change down the road, but that’s not where my light comes from. I’m reaching for the light switch. I know He’s here somewhere.
If you’re in the middle of a tunnel, I’d love to share encouragement with you and pray for you. Please sign up to receive future encouragement from me, and you’re welcome to contact me anytime!