“I believe you’re right, Picket,” he said, smiling through fresh tears. “I have only one desire in these painful days, to see my work matter for the mending. I know I help invent things that destroy, but they are aimed at the darkness. And I hope that, when they have blown a hole in that darkness, the light pours in.”Emerson, Ember Rising, S. D. Smith
I can’t turn my head away from the news. The twenty-four hour cycle has taken its toll on my concentration and focus, and the COVID-19 pandemic ratchets the already-intense barrage to levels nearly unbearable. I want to know, but knowing is killing me, if not in body, at least in mind and soul. I am being catechized by Twitter and my inbox; not surprisingly, the fruits of that spirit are fear and despair.
So I ask myself, “Why are you afraid?” Jesus tells me not to be afraid, because He is with me now and will be with me forever – “Isn’t that enough for me?” I say. “What is it that I so fear losing?”
When I poke a hole in that woefully thin membrane, that’s when I’m embarrassed by what I find–what gushes out is the fear of losing the freedom to do what I please when I please; I fear losing a sense of normalcy and the notion of security (none of which really existed at any point). I see how much of my life is built on the assumption that those things are promised to me or that I somehow deserve them; that I’ve buried the true-but-unpleasant fragility of life. Most people throughout history and many today have never experienced the sense of near-total safety that can be purchased (or perhaps more accurately, leased) in western civilization. I have no right to demand it.
Emerson is a young rabbit of Harbone Citadel. His parents both lost their lives to the now-endemic evil of Natalia and since, he has committed himself to doing what he can for the cause of the Mended Wood. In the Mended Wood, evil “will not be so.” It is his purpose and all other motives have fallen by the wayside for him. He is not the only rabbit so noble.
“The world as we knew it was shattered, and we never knew what we might be forced to find within ourselves. In the tumult and the trials, we found our callings. And we have done some good. Thank you for loving us, Mother and Father. Thank you for preparing us for the unnumbered dangers we’ve faced. We had no idea that when you gave us all the light you did, you were guiding us to one day strike out at the darkness so fiercely. We have been far from flawless, but we have made a hard dart at that darkness. We have seen cracks forming and the light seeping in.”Heather, the “Scribe of the Cause”
“I do not have much to offer in your service, but all I have is yours. We are small but determined. We are hard pressed but persistent. We are wounded, yet we live. We are humble but hopeful. We are wounded, yet we live. And our hope is ignited by the sight of you, Princess Bright.”Lord Booker, the frail sage of Vandalia Citadel
Emerson, Heather, and Lord Booker knew what they were for. In all our troubles, in all our suffering, in all the real darkness sweeping the world, our purpose remains–to strike out at the darkness. Though we are not the source of light that will penetrate the darkness, we are those who by doing good, must assail the evil with our humble stones, like the humble shepherd David with his sling and smooth stones.
I am afraid because in my human nature, I am afraid to lose things that are not intended for me. My purpose is not to be free from obligation to my neighbor, to enjoy the privilege of normalcy, or to lazily swim the backstroke in a suburban perception of security. No, my purpose here is to glorify God in word and deed and enjoy His presence forever.
When the Apostle Paul was threatened in Jerusalem, the Lord spoke to him, saying, “You must also testify in Rome,” and a veritable army ensured his safe passage to Caesarea. The Lord guarantees His protection to us as far as His purposes for us go; no earthly threat can alter the purposes of God for His people. Instead of fearing the loss of that which does not belong to me and is not promised, I should fear giving my heart and my work to causes that have no future redemption. I must strike out at the darkness with whatever the Lord has given me to do with my heart, hands, mind, and feet, knowing that He goes before me and establishes my work.
Now, this must not be foundation-less and arrogant bravado. No, any such “hard dart at darkness” must be launched from advantageous high ground. Where can an anxious soul find such terrain?
I know of only one, that my only comfort in life and death is that I belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Flawed though it may be, let our work and our hope matter for the mending. Because while we fight to reach the mending now, we will see later that this whole time, we were fighting from within it.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”Isaiah 43:1-3