Last week was a whirl of writing. I often fall into what I call "writing trances" where I can't seem to write fast enough. I fear I might lose the ideas churning around, and feverishly work at excavating the thought onto the page.
Do you experience something like this in your line of work; a flow or rhythm perhaps?
I was in a writing trance for nearly three days last week. The final day of the trance I was forced to emerge before completing my work. I felt like I had been pulled from my life source. Weird, I know, but the early leave from my trance left me somewhat despondent and I felt the burden of a heavy melancholy.
Whether you experience a weird trance in your work like me doesn't really matter. It's the melancholy that is universal: the feel of hard work hammered out on the anvil of life and then failing to feel its general worth.
All humans suffer from that heavy sense of lack in their lives. And, being a Christian, I believe, does not disqualify you from the voiding drone of this melancholy life.
I woke on Sunday not ready or excited to worship. It was all I could do to not curse the day. I simply wanted left alone. But I finally found the energy to center my mind on a rather dark yet hopeful passage in Revelation. It depicts Christ and his angel riders, readying for final battle.
And so I prayed. I didn't want to, but I did. Because sometimes we must push through the black within to reach the light. Here is my apocalyptic prayer of hope:
There are great rivers in the sky, and they flow down into you and me. Their constant flow is ever-filling. These are the rivers from The Golden City, where the great Phantom Rider prepares for war, prepares for peace, prepares for the great feast of the ages.
I am climbing the river that bursts into my land. Up and up I swim this vertical river, beating my arms against the white caps. The water is spring-like cold and it pummels me, its rapids pound and overtake, and yet I am refreshed in the beating, in the struggling.
For when my head is down, beneath the water's flow, I can yet hear the Phantom Rider, preparing the table, and riding in the far off hills of The Golden City.
And so I swim to heaven because I know that when the dark days come, I am never not in your Spirit-flow. I know that I must struggle, it's part of the deal. Sometimes it's the struggle that saves us. And today I feel saved because the struggle has magnified Your grace.
At times, feeling God can feel like great struggle. But we must swim up and into him, we must pant and push, and pursue. The very thing that refreshes can be the same that overwhelms. I think this kind of feeling comes from the shadows of our own world--the lies that say how far away God is today, or that he is too much for us, and that he is aloof and doesn't care.
Finding God, comprehending him is no small task. He told Job to gather himself, to arm himself with all his human faculties in order to comprehend his unimaginable power and greatness. But the reward of bracing yourself to discover the golden beauty of God is worth it. And sometimes we have fight through our own doubt, our own frailties and our betraying thoughts to seize how deep and how wide his love for us really is.
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.