I don’t like hard things. I like my life easy. Every night that I put my family to bed in a relaxed, happy home, I thank God for another day that didn’t knock the wind out of me. I always hope that if I’m thankful enough, maybe He will grant my petitions to keep my life in it’s easy, simply rhythm forever. Is that just me? No? Didn’t think so.
But, easy and happy was never in His promises to us in this life, and I have to be careful. As normal as it is to want a smooth ride, I can’t let that desire lead me to always take the path of least resistance. I need to be prepared, to brace myself for rough waters and strong winds and dark nights of the soul. Because, sometimes, journeying through those things is exactly the path God has laid before me. That thick, dark fog is right where He wants me to walk.
I used to believe that I should avoid any darkness, because God would never be where there is darkness. But I was wrong.
I recently walked through a very dark and heavy season. It wasn’t terribly long, but it was weighty. I even knew it was coming, God warned me. But the warning didn’t lessen the pain. It was the darkest Good Friday I remember. I could relate, in some small way, to Mary’s pain that day; watching her child being broken in front of her.
Maybe you have been in this place yourself. Or maybe you’re there now.
The season of renewal took on new meaning for me. The hope of the resurrection that we celebrate at Easter was real, and it became everything.
How dark those three days of death must have been for my Savior. But He never gave up in order to take the path of least resistance. Because to Him, God was still God. And we were still His lost sheep.
As I sat in church on one of those dark Sundays, I struggled with what I should do about worship.
I asked God, “What do I do here? Do I stand and lift my arms to you and sing? Even when I don’t feel it right now? Would that make me a hypocrite? How do I worship you, God, from this dark place?”
And He answered. He always does. “Just sit, and read those words up on the screen. What do they mean to you?”
I read about our triumphant God, about all He can do and will do, all that He has done for us, about His awesomeness that cannot be contained.
I answered Him, “I know all of these things to be true about you, Lord. I know that these things celebrate the end of this little story I am living right now, even though we’re not quite there yet. And honestly, I am SO looking forward to when we can celebrate all that you’ve done for us in this situation.”
“There, now you have worshiped Me.”
Because whether it is dark or light, God is still God. And I am still His sheep. Walking in that truth with faith is worship, and it brings me into His presence.
I have learned, in this season, that God is indeed there with us in the darkness. In fact, He is nearer than we can imagine. We can often experience His presence far more intimately in the darkness than in our light-filled days. So it’s not surprising that He would want us to step into those places with Him sometimes. Those places can turn into amazing places.
Minnie Haskins wrote a poem in 1908 that read,
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’
GO OUT INTO THE DARKNESS, AND PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE HAND OF GOD. THAT SHALL BE BETTER THAN LIGHT, AND SAFER THAN A KNOWN WAY.
Be brave, my friends who are there now. Put your hand into the hand of God. He is there, I promise. His way is always better, even if you can’t see where you’re going.
Don’t panic. Don’t take your hand back.
It was tempting for our family to try to take matters into our own hands. It always is. We want to fix things quickly, to get back into our happy and safe lives. We want to run over and switch the light back on, fast.
But just pause for moment in the dark with me, will you?
Slow your breathing. Listen. Do you hear Him? He is telling you to wait for Him to take care of this. Trust Him, He is telling you. He is so near that you can feel His breath as He whispers these things in your ear. Reach out your hand. Do you feel Him? Take some time to feel His hand wrapped around yours. Feel how close He is. He is so near you can feel the warmth of His presence beside you.
When the light comes back on, you will be distracted by all of the things around you, and it will be harder to sense how close He is. So appreciate this time, however difficult, as a time to really feel Him draw near.
And believe Him, trust Him, obey Him, submit to His instruction. Come out the other side of the fog stronger in your relationship with Him. That is far more desirable than all of the easy, happy days we could ever live.
Dark or light, this flock can trust her Shepherd.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:5