In the Summer of 2018, the kids and I visited New Zealand with our friends, the Scherer’s. One of the most exciting places on our agenda was the Cavern House, which is home to the amazing glowworm. If you don’t know what a glowworm is, go look it up. I won’t have time in this blog….unless y’all want it to turn into a book….to explain them to you, but, trust me, they are amazing.
So, we boarded a boat, and set sail for the glowworm caves. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I was just excited about this opportunity to see something I had never seen before and experience something rare. Nature amazes me because it is God’s way of showing us just how incredible He is.
The scenery was picturesque. The tour guides prepared us as well as they could for what we were about to experience. They explained the glowworm and how it lives. They told us what to do when we were in the cave and how to remain safe while we were below ground. They took every precaution to make sure we were ready.
As we started to leave for our tour, they told us that our boat was full and they needed 2 volunteers to separate and go with another group. Caleb and Robin looked at me and asked if I would be ok if I took all the kids/young adults with me and they would volunteer to go with the other group. I was totally fine with this. So, they left us and we started our walk down to the caves without them.
We were led by an experienced tour guide, who knew exactly where we were going and what was ahead of us, because he had been down this path many times before us.
Upon entering the cave, you could hear the loud sound of rushing water and water falls. The area was dark, but there was electric lighting where we were. The tour guide showed us important features and helped us understand the surroundings. We saw our first glowworm up close and in a small space. But, with all the lighting in the cave, we couldn’t see how the worm, itself, glowed in the dark. We had to go further into the darkness in order to see the light.
So, we boarded a gondola. There was one bench running down the middle of the small boat. Tourists sat back to back along the bench, facing outward so they could see. Our tour guide was at the front of the boat, guiding us. Thankfully, I also noticed that the boats were attached to a system of ropes, so they couldn’t stray off the path.
We pushed off. As we sailed along, I could still see a fair amount of light from the dock. Up ahead was darkness, and I was beginning to see the glowworms. As I looked up to the ceiling of the cave, the glowworms were everywhere…their little white lights shining at us. We moved further and further into the darkness, and the tour guide asked that everyone in the boat remain completely silent. It got more and more black until I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.
The silence was deafening. I could hear my own heart beat. The darkness was enveloping. I felt like it was hard to breath. I have never felt anything physically like this before. Mia and Ben (the youngest of these people for whom I was responsible) were pressed up against me as tightly as they could, each holding one of my hands. Emma and Grace were sitting with their backs to me and I felt both of them lean back closer to me. Hanna and Sam were further away and I whispered as quietly as possible, “Everyone touch me. Just touch me so I can feel that you are still here.”
I needed to know they were there because, y’all, I literally felt blind. I would blink my eyes and there was no change. Whether they were closed or open, it didn’t matter. The blackness was the same. I was terrified for a minute. Something could have come up out of that water and we never would have seen it coming. The darkness felt like a person, pressed up against me and breathing in my face. I could literally feel the darkness pressing on me.
But……when I looked up…..the ceiling was covered in these tiny white lights that looked like a million stars above us. Because of the darkness, we were able to see this beautiful light that we never could have seen any other way. We had to go into the cave, where there was no other light, to see the glowworm. And, there, tucked away in this cave deep in the mountains of New Zealand, was a beautiful creation that God made.
If I wouldn’t have pressed through the darkness, I never could have seen it.
I would have had to hear others tell stories about it, while never experiencing it for myself.
And, as I looked up and gazed upon this really amazing creation, I was gently reminded that our tour guide had been here probably thousands of times before. He knew exactly where he was. Our boat was attached to the ropes and he was in full control. He wasn’t scared. He wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t alarmed. When I was grasping for the things I loved most to make sure they were still there with me, he was calmly guiding our boat back to safety.
And, we made it. We made it out of the dark and into the light.
Look at our faces just after we came out. We were so excited about what we had experienced. Now that we could talk again, we couldn’t wait to tell each other all about how we felt down in that darkness. We all experienced it together, but we still told our own version of the story multiple times. We were amazed. We all were.
It was an experience I will never forget. And, the best part…..we were reunited with Robin and Caleb. I remember watching them walk out and all of us rushing over to hug them and share stories. We were all laughing and so excited to talk about how it all felt.
Minutes later, we were standing in a beautiful valley. The kids were running and laughing and playing. We were all smiling and taking in God’s beautiful creation. I was so thankful for all that He had shown me that day. We were together. We were safe. We were changed because of something amazing we had encountered together. We had a knowledge that we didn’t have before this day. Our eyes had seen something unique and wonderful. We had come through the darkness and lived to tell our story.
I hope you have been able to recognize the analogy to this story.
We are all in the glowworm cave, y’all. We’re down there together. Collectively. Basically the entire world. We’re all down there together right now. We’ve pushed off from the dock and the darkness is growing darker by the day.
For some of us, the darkness is so real that we can hardly breath. It is pressing on us. We are reaching through the dark just to make sure our loved ones are still there. We are missing those who are not with us.
Some of us are scared….
Some of us are lonely….
Some of us are wondering how we got to this dark place….
Some of us are afraid that something will jump out of the darkness and take us….
Some of us are paralyzed….
But, some of us are looking up!
Looking up to see the hand of God.
Looking up to see the reason God led us here in the first place.
To show His glory!
We are surrounded by darkness, fear and loneliness like we’ve never felt before, but if we look up, we can see the glory of God.
And, as we place our eyes on the only good thing in this moment – Jesus – we will gently be reminded that we have a Holy Spirit who is guiding our boat. We are tied to the ropes that God placed in this cave and He is guiding us through the darkness. He has been here before. He saw this coming. He prepared us to enter this cave, and He will get us through it.
He is not surprised.
He is not scared.
He is not lonely.
He is right where He wants to be. In the boat with us. Leading us. Helping us. Quietly speaking to us so we can hear Him through the darkness. And, He knows how to get us back to the light.
Psalm 31: 7 – 8 says,
“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.”
He is going to bring us out of this. We will be reunited with our friends. He will lead us to that valley and our feet will be in a broad place. A big, wide open, beautiful space where there is plenty of room to run and play and be safe. There will be sunlight, blue skies, clouds and mountains in the view. We are going to be smiling and telling the stories of all that God did while we were down there in our cave.
I promise. He promises.
If you will remain faithful and trust the Lord, He will bring us out. And, we will have such a powerful story to tell. We will be able to say that we have seen something amazing. We will understand God more and we will be different. His glory will be seen in the earth.
The glowworms were worth the darkness.
I’m praying that we can all say that Jesus was worth it when this cave experience ends.
I love you.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Emma!!!!!! We’ve been in more than one dark cave together in this life and I’m rejoicing that we lived to tell of the glory of God! I love you like you are my very own.