I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now, but I’ve been putting it off, because this post isn’t pretty. It isn’t happy. It will be honest, and that scares me. I don’t know if anyone will find inspiration in it, but here goes.
I’ve been in some very dark places lately, darker than any other time in my life. And the more I talk to others, the more I find I’m not alone. One dear friend of mine explained it as going through a dark tunnel; before, when they had experienced these times of darkness, they were always able to see the light at the end, to hold onto hope. They were always able to remember that everything has a purpose, and to eventually find that purpose in each trial and season. But this time, the tunnel seems to just go on and on, with no light, no reprieve, no hope; only darkness, only questions with no answers. I found myself heartily agreeing.
I have spoken to others who, like me, have found themselves in a storm like no other storm before. This season in my life, this storm, has threatened the very foundation of my faith, shaking everything within me down to rubble until I am left wondering what I was building in the first place, or why. I am left holding onto words which seemed so helpful and hopeful before, but which now seem weak and flimsy in the face of this much torment. In this way, I have become like Job.
And Job said,
“Let the day perish on which I was born…
For my sighing comes instead of my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water…
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, but trouble comes.” (Ch. 3, ESV)
I have even been angry with God, as have many of the Psalmists (see Psalm 13). Many Christians are familiar with Lamentations 3:21-23, but I am lately more acquainted with the preceding verses:
He has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long…
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:2-3, 17-18, ESV)
Some days, it’s a chore to continue reading until I reach the hopeful verses. Despite my misery and my fear, I am holding on with the last shred of my strength to this one truth: God is still God. Some days, I believe He’s good. Other days, I believe He’s there. But today, I remember that I’m not alone.
“In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.” (John 16:33, AMP)
Jesus promised there would be tribulation. I like this version because I think most of us typically view this familiar verse in terms of persecution, but here it seems Jesus is talking about all kinds of trouble. Emotional distress. Physical suffering. Fear, anger, depression, confusion, uncertainty. These things will happen. Jesus himself experienced these things; in fact, he said these famous lines not long before his betrayal and arrest. Some days we have great faith; we can walk on the water in the midst of the storm, as Peter did (Matt. 14:29). And some days, we are like the disciples crying out to Jesus in the midst of a great storm, “Don’t you care that we are dying?!” (Mark 4:38). The storm always breaks, and the sun always returns. But some days it’s bitter trying to believe again the words of hope that were so sweet in the past.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lam. 3:19-24)
There are numerous stories in the Bible about people who wanted to quit, people who didn’t understand, people who were downright angry with the way God was doing things–Jeremiah and his scribe, Elijah, David, Jonah, Moses, Abraham, Thomas, Paul–and God did not forsake them. Often, He was gracious to them, as when Elijah fled into the desert (1 Kings 19). We can be honest with God, because He can take it. He knows our hearts. He doesn’t give up on us, even if we give up on Him. In the modern film adaption of The Count of Monte Cristo, the main character laments that he can’t fill the request of his dying friend because he doesn’t believe in God, to which his friend replies, “That doesn’t matter; He believes in you.” God always has hope for us, even and especially when we don’t have it for ourselves.
Some days I do have hope for this life. But most days lately, the hope I cling to is the only eternal hope: Jesus is king. He’s already won.
One day the darkness will pass away.
And in the meantime, we are not ever alone.
For further reading, I recommend Psalm 42.
If anyone were to ask me what the most beautiful animal on earth is, I’m sure I could think of a few, but sea slugs would definitely be on the list. I mean, type “sea slugs” into a Google image search.
Just look at them.
Their vibrant colors, their ethereal forms, their variety. Some of them are just breathtaking. Yet these humble invertebrates spend their lives essentially vacuuming the ocean floor, rocks and reefs, and they are essential to the ecosystems they abide in.
It seems my God is not without a sense of humor. Though I’m sure He likes to have fun sometimes, I’m also convinced He never does anything without purpose, even if that purpose is relatively small.
I’m certain that God uses all the extravagance and diversity of sea slugs to make a statement about beauty–I can’t help remembering “The Teacher” in Ecclesiastes going on about vanity. But sea slugs don’t need anyone to tell them they’re beautiful. They’re just fine going about their cleaning business, fulfilling their purpose in the deep blue sea.
Affirmation and compliments in our lives are encouraging, even desirable, but could we be more like sea slugs? Can we live out our divine stories, content knowing who and what we are (and whose we are), even if no one else is reading our stories?
The Body of Christ is a body indeed–no members exist in isolation–but imagine what could happen if all its members began to focus on their divine design for the good of the body and the glory of the head (that is, Christ), rather than on their desire to be something else, or to be affirmed in their assignments by other members. Imagine what the Body could do if Christ himself and the story he authored and finished for us was enough.
Imagine if we could humbly wear our beauty with confidence, rather than insecurity, and simply go about our business in the Lord. After all, we are all of us beautiful creatures to Him. And we all have an essential purpose, even if that purpose seems relatively small.
From Believing Today: “Day 15 – Truly Free”
“Whether it’s to yourself, or everyone around you, when you feel the need to win a heart, you may inadvertently bind yourself to a false opinion, and therefore, to a false identity. Freedom can only be found in the authentic you; the one Jesus came to restore. No one else can truly know you. So, why let your joy be determined by somebody else?
. . .
Until you are content with yourself, under the love of God, you will have a difficult time in your relationships with others. Who you really are will always be covered over by needy behavior. . .”
Read More Here: Day 15 – Truly Free (and subscribe!)
My site here is called “Be in the Flow”, and some may be wondering why; I have. It did sound good when I named it that, but I didn’t just want a name that sounded cool or catchy, I wanted a name that described what this blog is about. So, what is “The Flow” and why should anyone be in it?
The flow I’m referring to is a river that comes down from the throne of God; it flows through His city and His people; it’s His presence and all that He is. We were meant to always be immersed in it, in Him, but something went awry in the beginning: we rejected the flow. We turned to what we could manage, to deciding what is right and wrong, to holding others to our standard. We exchanged the flow of the river of God for the bog of our own understanding.
In the biblical temple of the nation of Israel, the Holy of Holies was separated from the people behind a great thick curtain. Behind the veil in this place rested the Ark of the Covenant, the tangible representation of the Presence, and no one but the High Priest, and only once a year, could go in before it. When Jesus’ spirit departed his body in death, the earth shook violently, the sky darkened… and the veil was torn in two. No longer would the Presence of God be confined and hidden from His people, but because of the one sacrifice of the Christ, God became accessible again.
Many people think being a Christian is only about being a good person and going to heaven when you die, but that’s not it. It’s about regaining access to God directly, living in the flow of His love and power, experiencing a life out of heaven right here on earth. There is nothing separating you from Him! Nothing is in the way, nothing can keep you from Him. He desires you to be in the flow, always.
This word about the presence is resonating throughout God’s church; the presence is the one thing God wants His people focused on. For a much more eloquent and powerful word on this one thing, please follow the link below!
Also, check out my Info page for more about the flow and this blog.
Just a Thought
So many people spend their lives mourning the death of Christ for their sins. Yes He did die, but He got up again so that we too could move on from the grave and into new life with Him.
It’s the biggest holiday of the year, especially among those who believe. As many have noticed, there isn’t any outrageous war about saying the word “Christmas” as there has been in years past; people (on both sides) have gone quite the opposite direction, seemingly treating “Merry Christmas,” “Christmas Tree” and the like as benign and not so politically incorrect. Which has got me thinking: People celebrate Christmas with Santa Clause, giving gifts, and by singing songs about the ambiguous “holiday” season. Why do people celebrate this holiday yet attempt to ignore the sole foundation of it? There wouldn’t be a now-mythical Saint Nick without the God in whom the original man had faith to begin with. There wouldn’t be the giving of gifts with such great joy and generosity of spirit if it hadn’t been for the original and greatest gift since the creation of the universe: The Creator, giving Himself in the form of those He created, to fulfill perfectly the law once and for all with His blood; and also His ressurection and the gift of His Spirit thereafter to any and all who believe Him.
And the angel said to [the shepherds], “Fear not, for behold, I bring you
good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this
day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” ~Luke 2:10-11, ESV
If Christmas is only about the generosity and warm hearts of humankind, then indeed it can only fill one day a year, since the love and kindness of man has limits. If it is only about the man in the red velvet suit giving gifts to youngsters based on their nice or naughty deeds, then Christmas is at its most basic an “if-then” holiday, rooted in manipulation and the status quo. If it’s just an excuse to spoil the people one loves, then I wonder that one needs a designated day to do it, besides birthdays.
Some may think my comments brash, or my view overly dramatic. I would call the act of God stepping out of heaven and choosing to submit in the flesh to the laws He himself instituted rather dramatic. Maybe, because the story has become so common to us now, we miss how miraculous it really is. Maybe we’ve just forgotten why it happened in the first place.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall concieve and bear a son, and they shall call his
name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). ~Matthew 1:22, ESV
Christmas is about God’s fulfillment of His promises; about His immeasurable love for every person, His power to accomplish what He has said. It’s more than a beautiful, warm-hearted story, more than an inspirational idea: It’s the truth, and it’s for joy and not condemnation that I’ve written what I’ve been thinking. I realized that if I believe all of this, if I believe God and all He’s done and is still doing, then I can’t celebrate Christmas like the world. I have a hope that goes beyond getting what I asked for, or even bringing joy to someone else by what I can give; I have hope that God has been faithful to every word He has ever spoken, and will be faithful yet.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now
on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great
things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who
fear him from generation to generation…” ~Luke 1:46-50
I just started a blog. If God wants me to do something with it, well then you will see the fruits of it here. ;]