Sunday, June 11, 2017

On the Horizon

by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

“Do you sense there are places Jesus might want to lead you where you would rather not go?”
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Ronald Klug

I have known this was coming.

Today I read words I wrote almost a year ago – emails I never sent, thoughts I never finished. The preponderance of those writings described a dark cloud pushing its way closer (in a personal sense, not in a “the end of the world is nigh” sense, so fret not). For example:

“Today is another in a long string of days where, when I’m not distracted, a feeling rises in me that something’s up. It is a persistent sense that there is a darkness I am not willing to face, but should. And not only should, but that goodness and hope reside deeply hidden there. It’s just that the entrance to this thought is cold, black, and scary. I am afraid to enter in, and to enter in alone.”

And then this from another writing:

“The lump in my throat indicates a holding back of something that is perpetually building and rising. Swallowing only serves to compact it all the more. Simultaneously, the question of this lumpy intrusion’s constitution also rises. First: What is it? followed closely by: Why?, though no all-knowing, disembodied voice descends narrating the scene, making sense of all things. Instead, it is the barely perceptible rustling that catches the eyes and ears of my soul and draws my feet to follow a path. This is how the journey begins. The search is mostly quiet, though it may scream out its questions and consternations at intervals throughout, reawakening the sleepy, slumbering meanderer – a reminder that paths hold secrets.”

To encourage myself to take steps:

“The truth of the matter is that we are never alone. When God calls us to walk through the valleys and shadowy places, He never leaves us. He always enters in and stays close. Reading the book of Psalms is like reading a giant post-it note where David reminded himself of God’s promises to stay with him. This is a good thought: ‘Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness’ Psalm 33:18.-- I shall hope.

“To feel discouraged because I haven’t arrived at some arbitrary mark I’ve made for myself, is to forget that it is the journey, not the destination, where life and relationship happen. Having a shadowy place to walk through is not a sign that I have failed or am not good enough, or any such thing, it is merely evidence that I am still alive. To berate myself for a struggle is compounding the pain and derailing me from focusing on the issue at hand.”

I am reminding myself of these thoughts because things have changed. I’ve walked into the darkness that once loomed in the distance. Those steps I first took have led me here. Life has brought me into the cloud itself; it no longer sits ominously on the horizon. And though that sounds scary, the lump in my throat is smaller; the fear of the dark is dissipating. The place the Lord wanted to bring me is hard, yes, but it is good. He is with me. There is joy here, too. How surprising is that! How astonishing is it to find joy in the midst of pain, grief and sorrow! And how much energy have I expended to resist this journey! The richness He promised is what I see coming closer now, sitting on the horizon.

Though surrounded by darkness, there is light in here. It is a focused, pure and undiluted light – undiffused. And I am not alone. Not only is the Lord my constant companion, but He has brought others to walk with me. I cannot express how thankful I am to not be alone.

Often times, when the Father calls us to follow, His Spirit gently, but persistently nudges us. There may be an unsettledness that hounds our hearts or an urgency that won’t abate. Whatever it is that causes us to move, even if the move is toward that which we fear, a new work has begun. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” Phil. 1:6.

I was fearful to begin this journey. I was afraid of the dark. It was not evil I feared, but the dark itself, the unknown. But I know and am experiencing this: the Lord goes with me and brings what I need. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” Ps. 23:4.

Walk boldly and humbly into whatever dark lay before you.

Offer your hand to someone whose path is dim.

The journey is rich. Each step is progress. You are not alone.

On the horizon, walk boldly & humbly into whatever is before you - @SarahVanDiest (Click to Tweet)

Educated as a teacher, Sarah taught school for nearly 20 years. As a young woman, she lived in China amid the rice paddies and water buffalo near Changsha, and then later taught English in Costa Rica for four years and raised her two sons. 

Sarah is married for the second time, the mother of 2 boys and the step-mother to 3 more. She and her husband, David, work together in their agency The Van Diest Literary Agency. Her full name is Sarah Ruth Gerke Van Diest. She’s 5’5” and cuts her hair when stress overtakes her. 

She is a freelance editor (including a New York Times and USA Today bestseller), blogger (The Write Conversation) and writer for hire. Her first book releases with NavPress in 2018. 


  1. So glad the richness is within sight. This reminds me of the book 'Hinds Feet on High Places' by Hannah Hurnard (which I've read like 100 times). Have you read it? May God continue to bless you as you move forward.

    1. Greetings, Jennifer!

      I read that many, many years ago. I should read it again. You must know much of it by heart.

      Thank you for your words and hope.
      Blessings to you and yours,

  2. "Whatever it is that causes us to move, even if the move is toward that which we fear, a new work has begun." Yes and amen! Your journal entries mirror some of mine from earlier this year (though mine were not nearly as eloquent). I look back - and around me today - and see God's "withness" through it all. Joining you in praising the One who is perfecting His work in us until the day we see Jesus face-to-face!

    1. I love this, Kathy! God's "withness" reminds me of the word "witness." We are witness to His faithfulness as He is witness to our struggles and joys. And yes, let us praise Him together!
      You are a blessing to me!

  3. Wow! I've been wrestling with God. Although I've "generally" surrendered, my attitude hasn't embraced where He's leading. I'm definitely dragging my feet. Thanks for the much needed encouragement and the reminder that I won't be walking the path alone.

    1. Amen, Kelly! We are never alone. I pray for strength for your arms to embrace this work and energy for you feet to take the steps needed. Enjoy the path, Kelly, because of the companion Who walks with you!
      Blessings and hope,