Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Shadows and light

Last night, my girlfriend looked at me, pierced through me and spoke straight to my heart. In ways that challenged and chastised me, she spoke out of a love that only comes from a relationship with Christ and an ability to hear His voice. It was both scary and amazing. Scary because it again proves that God can absolutely use whomever he wants to speak truth whenever he wants, and amazing because it shows a love that is completely incomprehensible. Her expression of love got me thinking about how Christ continually manifests himself in my life.

The past few weeks have been exceptionally rough for me, and I have been fighting through varying waves of depression. Now, don't worry, nothing drastic is on the horizon for me as far as my response to this sense of depression, but it's definitely been there, hovering just above me and keeping me from being wholly effective in much of anything that I do. So, as I always have done in the past, I sought escapes from the reality of the dark life I felt I was experiencing. I sought alternative realities to the one I was living daily, knowing these were false hopes, but wanting, needing, the escape, even if just for an hour or two. As it always does, it proved unfruitful and only served to drive a wedge between God and I as I was running away from Him as opposed to heading towards Him.

Throughout the course of this time, God has again and again reached out His hand through His people to speak life to me, and in the most unlikely of ways. A friend with whom I seldom talk about the issues of my life called me out of the blue to speak a very specific prophetic word to me about my situation, good friends call and text for no reason, messages at church are seemingly targeted directly towards me, and on and on the list goes- God is after my heart and if I am able to step back for a moment, I see how beautiful that pursuit is. I see how masterfully God is orchestrating encounter after encounter so that I will know that I am not alone. I see how seemingly meaningless words suddenly take on a level of comfort that they otherwise would not have had. I see how love is being proved tangible in my life. Though this is one of my "dark nights of the soul," I still see how God is very evidently at work in everything, not in the way that things are necessarily and immediately getting better, but in the way that in the midst of the night God is there as a guiding light. It's like Psalm 119 says, that Jesus "is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." It's not that the sky is suddenly illumined and all vestiges of darkness flee, but rather that, in the midst of the darkness, in the midst of that which would cause me to stumble, fall, and feel pain, God is there ensuring that I have just enough light to not give up, just enough to know that there is a hope of further light because of the glimmer that I now see.

My brother recently said something extremely profound to me. In talking about Psalm 23, he commented on the passage in verse 4 where the psalmist writes that even in the valley of the shadow of death, he will not be afraid. Anyone that has been involved in Christianity for any length of time has undoubtedly heard this scripture, and what is all too often focused on is that death is nothing to be afraid of because the overarching theme is that God's got your back. But I think there's another underlying message in that scripture- that of the shadow. Dictionary.com defines shadow as "
a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light." And in that is God's bigger promise in the passage. This shadow of death can only exist because death, in all its powerlessness can only show itself evident in this valley because it has intercepted light. John 9:5 says that Christ is the "light of the world," so any shade of darkness, any shadow, can only exist because He allows it. Shadows are only places where the light is not yet bright enough to fully dispel the darkness- so it is true of my life. These shadows that sometimes seem so frightening because I feel as if I am living in them, are really nothing more than harbingers of Christ not yet fully revealed in a situation in my life. God's constant responses in love through friends, and sermons, sunrises and scripture are His attempts to remind me that the light in whatever area of my life seems darkest is more than just on its way, it is already there and providing hope of a brighter day when shadows cease and light dawns full upon my heart. The dark night of the soul is indicative of, not an end, but rather a beginning that has yet to, and is in the process of emerging.

Yeah, this is how I process- I write. Thanks for walking through the journey with me and for always listening to and reading the musings of a man who continues to wrestle with grace and purpose.

image sourced from fineartamerica.com


Laura Elizabeth said...

Love this, D!! So lovely and honest. Keep your chin up, kid. You're an inspiration. Love you!

Becky said...

I Just read your blog and this entry is wonderful. I am bi-polar and while the depression part of that still is the hardest to overcome, I realized about 8 months back that every dark day is the start of GOD drawing me closer to Him and me letting go of something that is nothing more then a mirage of failure. The part about psalm 23 really spoke to me. Thank you for sharing.

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