There is something about the winter season that creates in me a pause that I cannot even begin to explain until it has passed, but the feeling that it creates is one that at once holds inside me thoughts of doubt and also a longing for the future. My best guess about why doubt creeps up on me most during the cold season is probably because it reminds me that, like the winter, I am often frozen and stuck in my insecurities and that my attempts to relieve myself of these things often ends up like a man trying to walk on an icy road, with all the slipping and falling that often follows such an attempt. Steady footing is nowhere in sight, and like the frustrated man, I ended up slowly walking back to whatever safe place I can find, even if that means I stay inside and end up confining myself to sure ground. I am often plagued by uncertainty, I wonder if I have any ability to contribute anything worthwhile to those around me, I am scared that people won’t find me lovable much less glance twice at me, I fear that the story and God I most hope in are really just wishful thinking. These thoughts are biting and frigid, reminders of the inclement weather that often defines winter.
Wrestling with this doubt often reminds me of Jacob’s struggle with the mysterious stranger found in the Genesis narrative, and much like Jacob encountered, this recurring fight often leads me to a realization that I did not see coming. What happens most often to me, and yet is surprising everytime, is that I am again reminded of what it means to live in expectation. I begin to hear the stirring of voices that begins with a whisper but progressively gets louder, and the song that is uttered is one of shalom and wholeness, exhiliration and reconciliation, comfort and love. I long for the passing of my uneasiness, and as my doubt grows and begins to wander, I am called back to the hope that the things I fear the most do not in fact have the final say. In the end, the God that is there, the God of the doubtful and insecure, uses my fight with the stranger to bring me to a longing that I could not create on my own. I am again assured that my hopes will not go unmet, that God will in fact bring things into a steady fruition and will reconcile this world to himself, along with myself and all my doubts.
In Tulsa, we are slowly transitioning into Spring and again I am reminded that the winter, like my own struggles, does not remain untouched and unchanged. Sure, there will be dark nights of the soul that continue to force me into questioning myself and my reality, but instead of trying to find the sure footing everytime, maybe I just need to trust that God in fact calls me to this fight, and that in the midst of my sorrow and instability, I am guided back to the warmth and comfort of Christ and the security that is offered in his invitation.