Growing used to things is scary because it numbs – it numbs the fear of darkness, the pain, the desire for love.
It all started with a few days of “I will read the Bible later, at night before I sleep” and a few nights of “I will pray tomorrow, in the morning”. Before I realised, they had added themselves up into a month, then two, three, six…twelve.
Soon, pushing the time reserved for God to “later” and “tomorrow” was as easy as swiping down my feed on Instagram. But at the same time, I was pushing my soul closer to the Tunnels.
In these tunnels, it is always winter. You are there because your spirit is in a season of winter. Warmth and light are nowhere to be found because God, the epitome and source of the ultimate love and light is who you are pushing yourself away from.
The more you draw yourself away from Him (with sins, distractions, not spending time with God), the deeper you go into the tunnel. The only way out is with the grace of God, trusting He will give you the strength to persevere until the end while you constantly battle with your lack of desire for Him.
For quite a while, I have been in one. It is very cold and dark but because it has been so long, I had grown used to it - so much that I didn't even notice I had stopped walking. I had stopped walking towards its end, staying right where I was with complacency as my best friend.
Social media, entertainment, relationships and food were lousy replacements of God but served as the perfect distractions. In previous moments of difficulty, darkness was painful and many of my days sunk in sighs under the blanket pondering of an end. But I now see that the walk through this tunnel is the scariest, as its longevity had got me used to it all – I had grown numb and the darkness didn't hurt anymore.
Some things are usless
Efforts to desire God seemed useless. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t change my heart that had become callous and stone-cold. I had tasted true joy in Christ so I knew what my soul needed, yet I would be too easily satisfied with what the world offered me. Church became a place that reminded me of my unauthenticity and sinfulness – I would repent, shed a tear even, silently proclaim my new God-oriented decision to do better…only to jump right back to my usual failures. My faith shrivelled and my hope crumpled. I no longer wanted to even try.
Then came my church’s retreat. Mangawhai Heads was our choice and we were to stay two nights and three days at a booked bach. I went just like I’d go to church every week. I had no idea I was in for a surprise – for a gleam of light in the middle of my tunnel.
I thought to myself, "Do I even know you?", because the beauty was just so overwhelming. Posts of France and Germany and Spain and Cambodia in Instagram looked so intriguing, but man, New Zealand.
I really didn't know it enough. Mangawhai was only a few moments of carsickness away and it sure reminded me of how much I was missing out wanting to stay home all the time. Its nights rained with stars and its mornings chirped away with the birds. Walks along the harbour led to places that looked so perfect it seemed almost surreal.
I thought to myself, "can I even take it all in?" His creations were so overwhelming I often closed my eyes. The perfect folds of the waves, the colours shining in the sun, the wind brushing my cheeks silenced me. Previous forecasts about clouds and rain had been fantastically wrong and all through the three days' stay, I was reminded of how sweet light truly was.
Nothing is enough
If Mangawhai does this to me, what else? The whole world is full of beauty I can't even fathom. The tunnel had me saying, "that's enough", but I realised nothing is enough. Nothing is enough when this world is so full, so full of things I am yet to discover and reasons to keep walking.
Although I am still walking through the winter tunnel, the scent of spring from my Mangawhai moments surrounds me like butterflies. I strive forth with anticipation towards the end, proclaiming this prayer not silently but aloud:
“Oh God, you had not left me. If You had, such creations, the reflections of Your love, You would have let be covered behind my curtains. Give me also the rest of the courage I need to keep moving. Remind me constantly of Your great beauty so that I don't settle with mere distractions.
Fill me with new strength as I have no more. Be my reason of hope, my light and salvation, my 'why' in this life through the tunnel and beyond”.
Sunny Kang is a media student, a dreamer, a rider with a steady seatbelt in the roller coaster of her Christian life. You can easily find her lost in books, writing in her journal, crafting, sharing her awes in God and sneaking one too many chocolates in her mouth.