Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark by Christie Smith

My friend and I were talking yesterday about how it's so hard for us to be still, to be quiet, to be alone. It's like we fear being alone. We fear not being "productive." We concluded that maybe we need to redefine what it means to be productive, because in truth, God often comes to us most clearly and powerfully in the stillness and loneliness. Maybe that's why we are afraid of it?

For me, being still has been one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn. "Work" up until this season of my life has meant contributing to the gross national product or producing something with my hands...something to show I've been of some sort of worth for the day. But I've learned that in those days where I've been the least productive in human eyes, those were the days where God has been the most productive IN me. 

My job in those times of sadness or loneliness or exhaustion or just the mundane days of motherhood is to just be still. That is my job. That is what I'm here to do right now. And most of the time when I hit one of those "down times," it's usually because there is something I need to work on personally. Either unconfessed strongholds of sin or forgiveness that I refuse to give someone who's wronged me or any number of things I can't quite put my finger on. Whatever the reason, I must start the stillness. Because in my world in those moments, everything is not ok. Why do I think that I have to pretend that it is? We think as Christians we should be protected against sadness, but sadness is not our true enemy. 

Our true enemy right now busyness. Our true enemy is blind faith, the kind of faith that closes her eyes in the dark, refusing to see it, pretending that everything is fine. The kind of faith that chases after achievements and service, hoping she will be named worthy because of all she's accomplished.  

Now, I'm not saying that in these times we should stop reading our Bibles (although a lot of times in these sad and lonley places that's exactly what we do). I'm just saying that in these times it's not always a mountain of theology that is needed. What is needed is time to be still, be depressed, be angry...time to just be REAL with God. Elijah went through times like this. And it wasn't a refresher course in Old Testament 101 that God gave him. What He gave Elijah first was food and rest. Before He ever uttered a word to Elijah He gave him what He knew he needed as a human. God created us, yet we think He expects us to be these spiritual, superhumans. He, more than anyone, knows our human weaknesses and needs. When our devotional life becomes impractical, it's we who have made it this way. With the expectations we put on ourselves and others, we've made it downright inhumane at times!

It's ok to be overwhelmed and to question God. Even Moses wrote at one point: 

"We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard. Who can make sense of such rage, such anger against the very ones who fear you?" Psalm 90:10, 11

And it was in that dark place that Moses heard from God, Psalm 91:14 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me."

After hearing these truths spoken to Moses thousands of years ago, am I still sad? Yes, a little. Am I still struggling to find that passion and joy? Yes, at times. But it's in these times that my faith is growing. It's in the darkness that my view of the Lord is becoming clearer. So let yourself be sad. Let yourself be still. Don't be afraid of the dark because it's only after being in the dark that we truly appreciate the light. 

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