Standing on the shore of decision. Looking into the face of adventure. Not knowing what lies ahead. Adventure and fury is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life. But adventure in reality is full of breathless moments, silent nights, and wounds that leave scars and memory on our heart. Can I go the distance? Can I give all my mind to get what the Messenger is saying?
I remember these words from her, whose voice still echoes in my ear – ”Our brokeness, our anger does not surprise or fluster Him. He knows all about it—it was God’s rage that nailed the Son of God to the cross. He gets it; He wrote the book on it, and He invites people—people like you and me—to come and air our grievances and complaints to Him. And the good news is you can do so without weakening your faith.”
We have these encounters with him where Father God breaks into our lives with power and answers our prayers and wins our trust and waters the garden of our faith, making it lush and green. And then there are these seasons when chaos, an unrelenting darkness descends leaving the crust of our soul cracked, shattered, and parched. And we cry to God in our confused anguish and he just seems silent. He seems absent.
Did you know that God dwells in thick darkness? That the God of light, at times, dwells in darkness? This idea flies in the face of much of our imagery and imagination about God. After all we so often hear that God is light (1 John 1:5) and that the Lord will be our light (Isaiah 60:19) and this is true. But what is also true is that “The Lord has said he would dwell in thick darkness” (1 Kings 8:12).
“I can’t see what God’s doing right now,” she admitted as she stared at the pool of cold coffee sitting silent in the bottom of the mug she gripped. Tears began to free-fall down her cheeks, and I felt the weight of my friend’s honest words stab my own weary heart. We’d seen answered prayers and flourishing faith, witnessed provision and heart change. But we hadn’t seen this coming — this aching stretch of her journey.
What you do see is her life being gradually led by a God who she believed in, and at the end, you can look back and see how He orchestrated natural events for His divine glory. You might not be able to see what God is doing, but trust that He is moving.
It was a season of spiritual growth. A friend once said to me, “Life is hard, God is good—don’t get the two confused.” The longer we walk with God and face the pressures of life and change, the more we appreciate grace but also come to recognize how dependent we are in an ongoing way to complete the journey. I continue to discover that although each stage of life is new, each invites us to face it with faith, hope, and resolve. Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us “we are surrounded by such a great of cloud of witnesses” who have completed their race. We are exhorted to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” so that we may not succumb to the very real danger to “grow weary and lose heart.” I find these words very significant in this season in life, because finishing well requires courage and commitment as earlier challenges did in their own way.
As a new season of life dawns, one way I have found helpful in looking forward to what lies ahead is to first look back: to reflect on the challenges experienced and God’s mercies, which as Scripture reminds us “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). As such, I hope the following personal story serves as an encouragement that fixing our eyes on Jesus is our only sure guide, for he is truly our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.
“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us… the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are