Light at the End of the Tunnel

Sometimes you feel like everything keeps piling higher and higher and you convince yourself you will never again see the light of day. There will never be an end to the pile of laundry. The home improvements will never get done. You will never be able to dig out of the bottomless pit of medical bills.

I’ve been working on one simple project for years now. It started three houses ago and with good intentions. I was browsing through magazines and finding lots of recipes I wanted to try out for my family. I thought it would be great to have all those recipes in one convenient location. I thought it would be even better if all those recipes were neatly categorized and organized for quick and easy future reference. (I understand this is what Pinterest is for, but I’m Gen X and I like paper. Also, Pinterest hadn’t really taken off when I started this. Yes, that’s how long it has been.) I decided to clip those lovely recipes out of their colorful magazine pages and organize them in a recipe binder. Great idea, right?

I spent approximately one afternoon getting this beautiful recipe binder started. I pulled some cardstock out of a drawer that had been sitting unused for years. Great, I’m killing two birds with one stone. Creating something new and using up something old. In that one afternoon, I cut, compiled, organized and glued twenty or so recipes into my new book. Pound cake, check. Homemade chili, yes, please. Fresh pesto, delicious. I felt productive and was absolutely sure that I was on my way to becoming America’s next top chef. Or at least the best cook in my house, which my husband has always run a tight race for that title.

When Plans Stall

Then something happened and the binder started collecting dust. Well, a few things happened actually. My job went from part-time to full-time. My husband took a staff position at a church, on top of his two other part-time jobs. We bought a house and sold another one. We had a kid. I changed jobs. We moved states.

For years, I kept cutting those pretty recipes out of magazines (sometimes we actually tried them out) and stuffing them into the front of the binder. Someday, I thought. Someday I’ll get around to putting them in the pages. But not today. And probably not tomorrow. We moved again. Each time I boxed up the binder and each time all the little cut-out recipes fell in a pile on the floor. I stuffed them back in and tossed it all in a box. Someday.

I left my full-time job to stay at home with our daughter who we discovered had some special developmental needs. My daughter loves to cut and glue. LOVES. Like a dog loves a bone, this kid loves to cut and glue. Every day, we would sit at the table, sometimes for hours and we cut and glue. Sometimes it was paper snowflakes. Sometimes shapes. Sometimes we just cut a thousand strips of paper and glued them all together and called it a day.

Somewhere around day 75 of sitting at the table with my then three-year-old, cutting and gluing, I thought, “Hey, what about that stack of 200 or so recipes I need to glue into my fancy binder.” So I prepared my heart and settled in next to my girl with her purple safety scissors ready to help momma.

It was a fun project for about ten minutes. Then I was overwhelmed. There are at least 200 recipes here. How do I organize them? By ingredient? By cuisine? By meal? This one is Shrimp Pad Thai. Does that go with seafood or pasta? Or Asian cuisine? These are the real-life struggles of a Type A personality. So I quickly reached organizational overload and wanted to toss the whole thing into a shredder. I just kept moving pieces of paper around and felt like nothing was getting accomplished.

One Piece at a Time

Then I put my little girl down for a nap and walked back into the dining room to gaze again in horror at the pile that seemed to have multiplied in the last five minutes. I sat down, cleared my head, and just started attacking the project—one little piece at a time. And within a short time, I looked up and realized I was over halfway done. Finally, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This mess that seemed out of control—it had an end in sight.

And it reminded me of some other tunnels in my life. And I was reminded of the truth that as Christians, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t always shine so brightly in the middle of the tunnel. Sometimes the tunnel is long and makes some sharp curves and we can’t see that light way down at the end. But it’s there.

For my daughter’s special needs, I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I only have questions now and it’s too dark to safely navigate our way through some days. But way down there at the end, there’s a light.

For those pesky questions about jobs and finances, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That tunnel might be years long and treacherous. But the light is there.

For that diagnosis, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes that light is physical healing, praise God. Sometimes that light means a person we love goes on to be held in the arms of the heavenly Father.

Just like that pile of laundry that never seems to go away. There’s a light at the end. We keep moving. We keep persevering. We keep plugging away one step at a time. We keep cutting and gluing one piece at a time until we see the picture start to make sense. We see a wholeness coming together where before there were only parts. We know Scripture is true, that God works all things together for good.

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