For those who are in ministry, it isn’t necessary to tell you that there are periods of time when you can feel that you are in a tunnel. We all feel that way at one time or another. Going through a tunnel does not need to be negative! In fact, there is much that we can learn spiritually from the tunnel experience. The tunnel experience is akin to spending time in the wilderness, it might feel dry, but it actually leads to growth.
Remember there’s a purpose going through the tunnel.
A tunnel is not a resting point. It isn’t somewhere we are intended to stay. Tunnels are a passageway; they were designed to go through. As Corrie Ten Boom famously said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer”. When we go through tunnels in our ministry, it’s important to trust God.
In Hungary there is a labyrinth under the Budapest’s Castle District. In one area of that labyrinth, they have constructed a ‘walk of faith’ attraction. The walk involves following a rope to navigate your way through a pitch black room, something I was not at all comfortable with. My eyes were unable to adjust to the dark, when they said it would be pitch black they meant it! I gripped on to the rope as if my life depended on it and was very relieved when we eventually turned a corner and I could see light.
When we go through a tunnel experience in ministry it is an opportunity to build our faith and strengthen our trust in our ‘engineer’.
Remember there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Very few of us enjoy the dark. When we are in the dark, it can feed our fears and cause us to imagine all sorts of things that aren’t real. When we are in these periods of our lives, it’s important to ask the Holy Spirit for His discernment. Rather than be led by our feelings or fears we must remember that the Holy Spirit is with us. Romans 8 makes it clear that the way to get through is to be led by the Spirit.
Romans 8:13-15 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”…
When we are in the tunnel we often forget the promises of God. It’s the Holy Spirit which will help us to remember what God has said even when we have no visual evidence. In John 14:26, Jesus promised the disciples: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” God is faithful to fulfil His Word; we need to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Remember you’re in it together
Whether you are going through a tunnel with your spouse or with a team, it’s important not to be self-focused. Remember that you’re in it together! We are told to encourage one another, and I guess that is pretty easy when one person is feeling positive and the other is feeling low. The scripture isn’t prescriptive, though, it doesn’t tell us to encourage one another if you’re an optimist, nor does it say to encourage one another if you’re feeling good today. There are many times when neither of you will feel particularly good, but it’s still important to encourage.
In Acts 16 Paul and Silas knew how to go through a difficult experience and remain in faith. They knew that empty words weren’t going to be the key for bringing them through their situation. Their default mechanism was to pray, to sing and to praise God. May that be our default mechanism too!
Have tunnel vision
Yes, I know, the phrase tunnel vision can have negative connotations, but that really depends on what you are focused on. When we go through difficulties, we need to turn our focus to the Lord. There is a tendency to neglect prayer and Bible study when things are getting rough, but that’s exactly when we need God the most. Let’s have tunnel vision and focus on our Saviour!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? …Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident” Psalm 27:1&3.
I recently read the following quote.
That night as I knelt to pray, I had a very strong sense of the Lord’s presence. I did not hear His voice audibly, but His message to me could not have been clearer. He said: “Whatever you accomplish in life will not depend upon your education, your talent or your skill. I have a plan for you, but you will only accomplish it on your knees in complete surrender to Me.” Charles Stanley http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/15418-guided-by-the-spirit.
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