Written By Lisa Loh, Singapore
Darkness. We encounter it every day—when we sleep, when night falls, or when we simply close our eyes. Yet, there’s something about darkness that we dread. It speaks of the unknown, it engulfs us, and it grips us with fear.
I had a recent experience of complete darkness, when I found myself stuck in the middle of the largest tropical rainforest in Australia. I had gone to Sydney for a cousin’s wedding and had extended my trip to explore the country. Excited to venture beyond the city and stay somewhere unusual, another cousin and I decided to book a room at a cabin accommodation in the middle of Daintree rainforest in Queensland.
The drive from the airport to our accommodation was supposed to take three hours—at least, that’s what Google said. But my (misplaced) confidence in my driving skills and in my cousin’s excellent navigational skills, not to mention the GPS in the car, caused us to dilly-dally over lunch at a stopover. By the time we entered the rainforest, it was already 5pm.
At first, as I drove into the woods, I felt a sense of peace and stillness come over me. It was wonderful to be disconnected from technology and away from the noise of the city.
As we proceeded deeper, however, the calm and serenity started to give way to something else. By 6pm, we noticed that the sunlight inside the rainforest seemed to be fading. That was when it struck me that darkness fell earlier and more quickly in a rainforest because of its dense undergrowth.
Half an hour later, worry started creeping into my mind. “Why is this three-hour drive taking longer than expected?” By this time, it was almost dark, and all we had was the car’s headlights. Though they were bright, they illuminated only a small circle of road just ahead of our car. By 7pm, darkness had fallen completely. When I glanced at the rearview mirror, I saw nothing: it was pitch black. Immediately, fear took over, and my initial anxiety turned into a chaotic whirlpool of distress.
“Stop! We’ve reached! It’s on your right!” My cousin exclaimed suddenly. But our relief and excitement turned to dismay when we looked to the right and realized that there was nothing but trees.
There we were, in the middle of a narrow one-way road, completely lost in the rainforest in the dead of the night. Voices started screaming in my head and worst-case scenarios started playing out in my mind. “What do we do now?” “If we turn back, I might not be able to locate other places because it is so dark!” “If we stay in the woods, do we leave our lights on to attract attention?” “But if the lights are on, we might attract murderers or psychopaths and we could both be dead!” “What about animals? What do we do now?”
To make things worse, my cousin and I could not make any calls because we were too far in the middle of nowhere and our phones could not connect. All we could do was to re-enter the address on our GPS and hope it would lead us to the right place.
I started to make a U-turn—simultaneously praying that we would not get into a head-on collision with an oncoming car—in a bid to locate other motels we had passed earlier. Then, at that point, Psalm 34:7, which my mother used to quote to me, came to mind. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” As thoughts of death filled my mind, I cried out aloud in the car, “Jesus please save me, I don’t know what to do!”
At that very moment, we suddenly noticed a small light heading towards us. It came from a bicycle headlight. Unlike us, the cyclist looked perfectly comfortable riding in the dark and immediately stopped when he heard our cries for help. We were so relieved when he told us that our accommodation was just five minutes away and gave us directions to it. (We found out later on that he was a staff working at the flying-fox attraction on the island.)
Finally reaching our accommodation safe and sound, I felt completely exhausted—and utterly grateful. A new wave of emotions overwhelmed me—not of fear, but of comfort and assurance that God had protected and carried me all this while. I realized that He was the one who had led the cyclist to us to guide us out of the mess. At the same time, I felt ashamed that I had neither fully trusted nor believed that God would come to my rescue, and repented.
That fateful episode in the dark was a stark reminder to me of how dependent I am on God. Our God is indeed a good God whose love never fails even when we do. Even when we don’t know how to trust Him, He protects us like a shepherd protects his lost sheep. I would be nowhere in life if not for His grace. Every single breath I take is a testament of His grace, which I do not deserve.
Are you feeling lost and afraid? Do you doubt that God is listening to your cries? Have you lost the assurance of being carried in His arms? Let me encourage you to listen to the Shepherd’s gentle voice, and to never lose sight of His grace and love for you.