Darkness

If you’ve stopped by here and read my ramblings before, you probably know that I’m currently reading {actually, I FINISHED reading!!} the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  This book has rocked my world.

I feel like I could share SO many snippets, but one chapter really hit me the other day.  Ann shares, “Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness…How I don’t fold my hands in prayer…weld them into tight fists of control…And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am?  Or is it more?  Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.”

Later she continues, “If I believe, then I must let go and trust.  Why do I stress?  Belief in God has to be more than mental assent, more than a cliched exercise in cognition…[and thus,] my daily work, the work God asks of me?  To trust.  And trust is that:  work.

Stress can be an addiction and worry can be our lunge for control…All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. ”

This week it has seemed as if that fear and the darkness is all consuming.  Whether it’s the constant needs of my sweet munchkins {here’s a great must read on this topic!!!} or the utter, unfathomable devastation in Japan.  Circumstances that seem big, to me personally and to the world as a whole.  In these things, in these areas, I often feel deep darkness.  And all I want to do is grasp onto whatever seems to be in my control to just hold it together.  In these moments of darkness, I keep asking myself, “Seriously.  God.  WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?”  And the image Ann shared about that perspective, was the image of only seeing God’s back.

 

“Wasn’t that too His way with Moses?

‘When my glory passes by,

I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back’ (Ex. 33:  22-23).

Is that it?  When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand?  In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, God long absent.  In the dark, my world shakes, cracking dreams.  But maybe this is true reality:  It is in the dark that God is passing by.  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.  Then He will remove His hand.  Then we will look.  The we look back and see His back….”

She takes this concept to the next level by bringing up the things that make it so impossibly hard to trust.  The dark, unthinkable moments that lead us to distrust that God is in it with us.

I can’t even BEGIN to count the number of times I had 4th graders or kids in youth group or Young Life or summer staffers or myself ask, “Where is God?”.  Where is God in the pain?  In the devastation?  In the hurricane?  In the earthquake?  In my family?  And I never know how quite to answer that.  But this image of God being in the darkness, somehow being CLOSEST to us in the darkness, is a new one for me.  The image of him protecting us, covering us, in the midst of extreme pain and loneliness.

During this season of Lent, of letting go, remembering the sacrifice made on our behalf, might it also be a season to examine the ways stress has gripped our hearts?  To breathe in.  Pause.  And trust.

I was making dinner tonight and heard this song come on KFOG.  I love Michael Franti and had yet to hear this song.  But during a week which has felt so dark, I feel like these lyrics were a call to trust.  The words are rich, rich, rich…..so watch the video, soak in the lyrics.  And I challenge you….try and replace at least one moment of fear and stress with the Breath of Trust.  May it be so, Lord!

HEY HEY HEY (No Matter How Life Is Today)
By Michael Franti

It’s been a long time coming that I had to say
When I wake up in the morning all I do is pray
For some guidance and protection on the streets today
And an answer to the questions I ask everyday
So tell me why do the birds that used to fly here
Tell me why do they come to die here
And all the kids that used to run here
Tell me why do they load their guns here
I remember, in the days when,
We were one heart no need to defend
I just wrap my arms around
Don’t give up this song is for you

Hey, hey, hey, no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away

I hold on, I’m trying to hold on,
I hold on, hold on, hold on, I hold on

From the tops of the buildings to the streets below
From the Wall Street banks to the empty homes
Between the lines of the people standing all in a row
There’s a crack in the gutter where a flower grows
Reminding me that everything is possible
Yeah reminding me that nothing is impossible
You gotta live for the one that you love you know
You gotta love for the life that you live you know

Singin’ hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away

I hold on, I’m trying to hold on,
I hold on, I’m trying to hold on

Until the morning comes again, I will remain with you my friend
And we will ride until the sun, goes to the place where it begun
and we will live to laugh and cry another day

Don’t let nobody ever tell you that it couldn’t be done
Don’t let nobody ever tell you that we couldn’t be one
Don’t let nobody ever tell you that it shouldn’t be sung
Don’t let nobody ever tell you you’re the only one

Singin’ hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away

Woah oh oh oh, I hold on
Woah oh oh oh, I hold on
Woah oh oh oh, I’m just trying to hold on
Woah oh oh oh, trying to hold on
Woah oh oh oh, trying to hold on

I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
I say hey, hey, hey no matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away

I hold on, I’m trying to hold on,
I hold on, hold on, hold on,  hold on, I hold on

{This picture was taken from an article about a 4 month old tsunami survivor who was reunited with her father.

Here’s the story…}

4 thoughts on “Darkness

  1. Christine I am so moved by your message and invitation here. Thank you for this reminder, which speaks so near to me during this time of literal darkness at camp haha.
    Much love,
    Lisa

  2. That book sounds awesome. I really like the imagery from Exodus. It’s as if God is putting his hand over us in the cleft to say, “You are not prepared to witness my glory. You are not yet ready to understand to answer to the question, ‘Why?’ Your job now is to be a witness to the wake of my glory and method.”

    Stress is a topic of considerable interest to me as a counselor and a person. It is most interesting becuase it is so paradoxical. It can be toxic to our body, mind, and soul yet it is essential to life. While it is very true that our task is to entrust ourselves to God and find solace in his peace and joy as we live out his plan, stress and pain are incredibly important. Without them, we would likely not ever seek God. Pain and stress are necessary realities that remind us of our human limitations and drive us toward God – actually bringing us closer to Him. And not only that, but without having experienced pain, be it physical or emotional (it doesn’t matter since they are innately linked), we would not realize how truly wonderful being in communion with God is. Low lows make higher highs.

    But the key is that the trust should erradicate toxic stress that pervades our lives, controls our actions, is habit forming, and causes panic attacks. Pervasive and prolonged stressed is what destroys and it’s what our sadly society breeds.

    I thank you so much friend, for an eloquent, touching, and insightful blog post.

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