When the Lights Go Out

My last post was about darkness. I talked about finding God in those dark places, and how I learned how to worship in hard times. But I didn’t really mention what our family was actually doing, practically, while the lights were out. And what we do with that time is important. Both for learning and healing.

When the power goes out on a stormy night, what does your family do? At our place, we huddle together, light some candles, and just spend time together in the relative quiet – with the storm raging outside. It doesn’t seem the time to continue on with our business as usual. Besides not being able to see to do my chores, those other things aren’t as noticeable without the lights on. The dishes suddenly don’t seem asĀ  important anymore.

We do the same thing when walking through dark times as a family.

We cut back on the busy – big time. Even watching someone else in my family go through tough times burns out this mama, so I need to put down all the balls I’ve been juggling. We let our home become quiet and restful. No more running for a while. And we huddle together, in the quiet, and just spend time.

We spend time as a family and we spend time with God. Not that we don’t do that on other days, but this time looks a bit different. Unlike other times, this time with each other and God is not to be productive. There is no end goal, there is just existing. We don’t have deep family meetings and discussions to solve all the problems. We don’t go on some quest to seek God’s divine plans in all of it. I don’t search scriptures for some insight that I can post online. We do none of that. We just hang out for the sake of being together, us and God.

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It looks like all of us curled on the couch together watching a movie, and comparing the hero of the story to our lives to give us perspective. It looks like us fishing off the dock and staring into God’s creation, and just existing along with the rest of what He’s made. It looks like me and my kids wandering aimlessly through a greenhouse on a Saturday morning, and planting a garden of flowers together that afternoon. It looks like us all baking up a creation in the kitchen together on a rainy afternoon. It’s all of us sitting around and dreaming about what plans God could possibly have for us in the future; talking about the way He’s gifted my kids and some wild and crazy guesses at what He wants to do with that some day. It looks like mid-morning brunch with my daughters; phones put away and watching the people go by and talking about all kinds of life. It looks like a game of Bananagrams that has us laughing until tears stream down our cheeks. It’s an evening bike ride as a family down a quiet country road.

It’s us staying plugged in to our tribe, because this time it’s us who needs prayer. It’s spending time with life-giving friends.

There’s no output. No goals. It doesn’t look like we’re being productive on the outside. But inside, something is happening.

We’re learning to abide in the Vine. As we sit in His presence as a family, we get to watch as the one walking through the darkness reaches their roots down, deep, deep, deep, into the rich soil and anchors solidly to the Savior. We get to watch supernatural peace and joy wash over the one struggling. We get to share in tears of grief over things in life that didn’t come to pass the way we thought they would. We get to re-establish our family as the solid foundation God provided us to do life from; where we rest, where we’re safe, where we can laugh and cry, where we can find peace and love, where we can turn off everything else and just be with God. Where we’re okay.

And this family, built on God, is what gives us strength to face the world again. This time we have spent, where it looks like we have accomplished nothing really, we have actually been fortifying our fortress, healing, getting strong.

We can’t see it when a tree is in the business of growing deep roots, that’s all done in the dark. The tree just looks like it’s sitting there doing nothing. Sometimes, it even looks a little dry and wilted when it’s roots are busy reaching. But we can see when those roots have anchored deeply. The next time a big, dark storm rolls through, that tree stands tall and strong, and the source of such strength is in a place that no storm can ever reach.

It’s a blessing, and I am thankful.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

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