For the misunderstood, the pioneer, the "spirit led," the leader:
Everybody thinks I'm fine. They think I'm great. I make them laugh. I swoon over life. I'm the one everyone wants to be around.
Everybody thinks I'm strong. They think "He's got it." I inspire them. I'm the one who never gives up. I'm the one who fights, and keeps fighting.
Everybody thinks I'm indestructible. They think so, and then wait for me to fail. I'm the one running off the cliff. I'm flying, with no wings.
And there I am; the one nobody sees, clinging to your flickering in the dark--hope of hope, dancing from shadow to shadow like a nocturnal butterfly. I am the one praying this all works out, trembling over my children while they sleep. I am the one praying my worry away on long walks up into the English hills.
I am the one, weak and wanting, waiting for a word from the Word--I cannot bear when the silence comes.
And it does.
And so, the impatient one, must wait and walk, walk and wait. For the unseen pulls me on, and into silence I walk, into silence I wait. I find, there in the silence, the unnerving presence of a giant, a spirit, the Phantom.
In my flesh I push on the Phantom, wrestling him to the ground, yelling, crying, accusing and demanding. I push on him. He does not give, but he takes it.
"Why do you not answer," I growl as we tumble down the countryside. "Do you not care?"
And then he pins me, and stares at me, and dives into me and, with new eyes, I see as through his eyes, I hear with his ears, and roll over in the hillside mud, embarrassed of my doubt, shamed for my impatience, abashed for my lack of listening.
Then, he comes out me, offers his hand, and pulls me out of the mud.
"Gather yourself, Tim. The world is coming. And you must be strong ... in me."
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.