Category Archives: John 15

dark nights…

there, in the dark of night, was a quiet beep, followed shortly by another, further away. the cordless phones, unable to find their signal, were making their dilemma known.

it was terribly dark, and I was cold.

the nightlights I’d left on were dark.

it seemed the power had gone out for everyone around the lake. the clouds, like a thick blanket, covered the moon and stars. no help from outside to guide me through the cabin and quell the beeping. the furnace was out. my flashlight was missing, relocated by little fingers earlier in the day.

it was a deep, an all-encompassing dark. no amount of time to adjust seemed to help me see a thing. furnishings around the cabin were suddenly potential tripping hazards. I could not see the island across the water. or the far shore.

it was dark. plain and simple.

it drew me back to conversations about spiritual dark nights.

I generally enjoy night. the quiet. the thinking and processing time while others sleep. I find it peaceful and it feeds this introverted soul. the spiritual dark night seems, in the middle of the questioning of God, a similar time of rest, allowing Him to do His mighty work.

but I realized anew last night how dark the dark can be. everyday objects suddenly became obstacles, potential dangers.

how like our faith-journey!

when there are no street lights, no moon or stars, when the nightlight is gone, and no welcoming glow comes from a single house, it is truly dark.

in our spiritual lives, dark times come. God feels far away. everyday objects and routines can become obstacles. what we thought we knew is challenged on new levels. things that are supposed to “work” now seem useless.

there are no silhouettes to guide us. the familiar is suddenly frightening. what will happen in the dark? will we stumble and fall, breaking a bone in the process? or will a stubbed toe be the extent of injury? is it possible come through the dark unscathed? does some sort of “flashlight” exist to help relieve the angst?

how amazing that God, unlike the moon, does not abandon us in our hour of need. He is still there, more powerful than any flashlight.

after tucking the phones, with their twin beeps, under a blanket and pillows and closing the door, I went to find a flashlight, returning to bed in the very quiet and very dark night.

the call for help I’d expected came. more like a scream. because she talks in her sleep, we waited to see how real the need was before venturing back into the cold and dark. “Mommy! I can’t see! Mommy! Help me! Mommy!”

her own volume was so loud she could not hear my voice, calling to her as I made my way (with the flashlight!) to her bedside. picking her up, I felt the great tension in her and the release of it when she knew safety and love had rescued her. as I settled her between us, she snuggled in, safe in her daddy’s embrace, no longer caring that she could not see. it was a new experience for her, this blindness in the dark.

the parallel of her experience and my own spiritual life is not lost. how I kick and scream for God, afraid of the dark that surrounds me. all the while, He offers words of comfort. in my panic, He wants to calm me, to embrace me. but I am too busy fighting the dark (and often Him) to know.

how do you experience the dark, whether natural or spiritual?

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healing tears (i cried, part two)

healing tears

there was a place in life so painful I wanted to walk away and start over. well, maybe not all of my life. but a good portion of it. years of pain from many sources. years of shattered dreams, crumbling like glass, falling to the ground, carrying pieces of my heart. again.

to say it was the lowest point of my life is no understatement. and it was here, in the depth of that agony, I decided to walk away from Him. the cost was too great. the pain too deep. in those moments I could no longer trace His path and walked away.

because the circumstance of life in that moment were so painful in and of themselves, no one knew some of the tears I shed were farewell to my beloved King, my Redeemer, my Friend. the journey simply cost too much and I had nothing more to give Him. to give no one, really.

it lasted less than 24 hours. theologically and apologetically, I knew there was nowhere else to go. I knew I would not really leave Him. where would I go? to whom would I turn? even then, I knew my earlier farewell was a sham.

and then…

blessed be Your name came on through the car sound system. a familiar tune. words glossed over. and yet not. yes, it is easy to called Him “blessed” when things are going well and all is right in one’s world. but those last lines caught my wounded heart. the decision to leave Him still flitted around my heart. until

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

did you catch it? He gives and takes away. that is His right, as my Lord, my King, my Redeemer. Job knew and acknowledged this. he did not curse Him and walk away. I just wanted the walking away part.

but did I? or would MY heart choose to say that He was “blessed,” even when He took away? even when there was so much pain in my offering?

in that moment I knew the truth of that refrain. He IS blessed. on the good days and the bad. when things are rosy and when they are black. and that blessedness falls on us as His children.

in my pain, I was fickle, looking for a way out, someone to blame. He was handy. and big enough to shoulder it, never judging me for the fear, anger, or weariness that had taken hold in my heart.

He flung His arms wide, whispered, “daughter,” and hugged me. I chose, in my pain, to call Him “blessed.”

years later, it still brings tears to my eyes. even in church…

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Filed under abiding, aches and lessons, being, daughter-gift, John 15, life lesson, spiritual formation

I cried…

it probably does not sound like big news to anyone but me. it is.

I didn’t just cry. I cried in church.

this is significant because I can be pretty stoic. a bit hard to read sometimes. certain emotions come freely. others are locked away and rarely see the light of day. and when they do, it is somewhere safe, not in church, not in any public place.

I’ve become a bit contemplative in recent years, causing me to weigh my emotion even more carefully than before, frequently seeming to “check out” a bit as I talk with God about something.

to cry in church is a watershed event. that it was in response to a song made it even more so. perhaps you know the song. the words are familiar to many. lines glossed over, sung without realizing the depth of their meaning.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

(Matt Redman)

ah, the agony my heart returns to when this song comes up. it is one of those songs I sing alone in the car, at the top of my voice or in the smallest whisper. regardless of my volume, the stereo is on higher than usual. this is, to me, a song of pain, a song of healing…

(continued tomorrow)

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Filed under abiding, aches and lessons, being, daughter-gift, John 15, life lesson, spiritual formation