Utter Darkness

by Cynthia Ruchti

A recent brainstorming session led a writer friend and me to a Mongolian grill restaurant, where we quickly decided it was our favorite place to brainstorm. We piled our bowl with sliced veggies, bits of meat, rice noodles, and exotic sauces and watched as the experts plied their spatulas in a noisy, clanging dance to turn our pale offerings into delicious, succulent, steamy wonderfulness.

The man in line behind us waiting for his food clutched the harness of his guide dog. A woman accompanying him talked the man through everything that happened.

“In the middle of the room is an enormous round, flat steel grill or griddle that’s kept at a high heat. The cooks lay our raw food on wedge-like areas of the grill to keep them separate from one another. That noise you’re hearing is the slap of the stainless steel spatulas as the cooks stir the vegetables and noodles, mixing them with the sauces. Can you smell the garlic? Lime? Chilies? The seared meat? In front of you is a narrow counter separating us from the grill area. The counter curves halfway around the circular grill. We’ll move along the counter during the cooking process. When our meals are ready, the cooks will slide the food off the grill onto waiting platters. There! That sizzle? They’re cleaning a spot on the grill for the next customer’s food.”

The man and his service dog followed the woman to the table where four other people waited for them.

I knew he’d be pleased by the tastes and textures of the food in front of him. But it was hard to imagine what it must be like to go through the experience–and thousands of others–without the gift of sight.

Utter darkness.

When the man and his service animal moved through the restaurant alone a half hour later, I watched the dog carefully pick a path that held the least obstructions for his owner–a marvel in itself. Utter darkness, but the man was able to negotiate the path safely because he held tightly to the one who COULD see.

And there it was–the lesson God hoped I’d catch.

Sometimes we feel as if we can’t move forward because we can’t see what’s out there. We don’t know what’s on the immediate horizon for our families, our careers, our country, our future. How can we keep writing when we don’t yet know how the story’s supposed to end? How can we work on proposals when we’re unsure if our current project will be accepted or not? How can we let imagination out to play when the publishing industry is more often chaotic than calm? We can’t see what lies ahead this week, much less in the months and years to come. How are we supposed to navigate all that?

By holding tight to the One who CAN see.

“I will instruct you and teach you
    about the direction you should go.    I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you,” God told us in Psalm 32:8, CEB.

What a gift the service dog provided the sightless man! The man would have been stranded in the darkness without the careful guidance of the well-sighted dog.

Despite how it feels, we’re not stranded in the shadowed unknown if we hold tight to the One who can see.

In what area of your life have you most recently felt the strongest need for The Sighted One to help you navigate obstacles? Did you respond to His nudges or resist? What was the result?

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark, holding tight to El Roi–the God Who Sees. Her recent releases are the novel When the Morning Glory Blooms and the nonfiction Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. Another novel–All My Belongings–releases in 2014. For more information, see www.cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.