We are right on the cusp of ALL sorts of exciting things with buying a house, moving downtown, starting new ministry directions etc . . . However, therein lies the root of the problem: we are still on the cusp. And I feel like we've just been sitting here on the cusp for sweet forever. Being in a place of waiting, it's easy to get discouraged and starting doubting our calling and our chosen path. I'm entirely too quick to get down on myself, and the Enemy knows my weaknesses. He preys on them; after all, he's like a roaring lion, waiting to devour us.
And because he knows our weaknesses, I have had 'one of those weeks.' Some junk happened that made me question my choice of ministry, my work in the ministry, and my ability to do this ministry -- not to mention questioning whether I'm totally crazy and only think that people might like me when really they all hate me and talk about me behind my back all the time (what do you mean? I'm not susceptible to believing lies or being melodramatic at all). And then Jayci cried the entire time at preschool, and is being pretty disobedient and constantly whiny at home, making me question my ability to be a good mom. I've been short of patience, and NOT walking in Truth.
And that's exactly where the problems start, when I let myself forget the Truth about myself, about my identity, about our calling. And unfortunately, it happens nearly every time things get a little tough. In other words, whenever things get dark.
When I was in high school, I had the most amazing women who mentored me and poured their life into mine. They have no idea, I'm sure, how often I am reminded of and transformed by TRUTH that they shared with me. This week, I keep remembering something one of my mentors always told me: never doubt in the dark what you know in the light. Because in the light I know who I am: loved, chosen, cherished, equipped . . . But in the dark? I start doubting these things. And I need to stop doing that, y'all. Particularly because the inner-city? Isn't a particularly light-filled place. In fact, I'd venture to say that the darkness has a pretty good hold there (mostly because those who are supposed to be salt and light aren't there . . . but that's another soapbox for another day).
It's funny, really, because this week I've felt attacked and dark and down, and yet the Lord has continually been reminding me of the exact Truth I need to hear. Today, even, I read three or four things, and listened to a podcast that all said the same thing: darkness amplifies light. Light shines brighter in the darkness. And that's what I need to remember and rest in: The TRUTH I know in the Light of Christ, and the blessing it is to have the opportunity to be Light to those who are still living in darkness.
I wanted to share with you a few of the passages, blogs, etc that impacted me today (mostly because they say it far better than I ever could with this rambling, entirely too long, post). I hope you leave as encouraged as I have been.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3
Maybe it's this: God hides with the poor and in the pain and we can only witness Him at His most beautifully creative work in the places needing redemption.
Maybe we are only at our most beautiful work in the same places too --- the places where we don't hide behind the distractions of stuff, where we finally empty our hands of all our possessions and idols and come to God empty and ready. The places where we can make art with tears.
When we are up against the wall, when our resources are gone and our hope is dwindling and the odds are mounted high all around us, God gets to step in.
And he gets to shine brightest when the night is darkest.
That’s what he did with Moses.
In Exodus 7:3-5, God lays out his plan.
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”
Those are difficult words to hear when you find yourself lost in the land of the impossible, because God is promising it is going to get even harder.
You think it was bad making bricks all day as a slave? I’m going to harden Pharaoh’s heart and he’ll force you to also find the hay to make the bricks from here on out.
You think I’ve been loud before? I’m going to multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, but he still won’t listen. It’s going to take “mighty acts of judgment,” not tiny acts, but mighty acts. And it’s going to be hard. The night will be dark. The skies will fill with hurt when the firstborns die in Egypt, but then, only then, will the Egyptians know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.
I think God brings us to the land of the impossible because it shines us. It reveals his glory in a way that shallow water never could. Nations are rarely swayed through tiny domestic miracles. Families are rarely changed through quiet acts of wonder. And Moses knew this. In Exodus 33:16-17, he asks God, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
In the next chapter God answers him as he makes Moses’ face radiant. It literally glows with the glory of God. It physically, tangibly lights up with the wonder and awe of the Lord. This, this is how we will be distinguished from all other people on the face of the earth, in how we reflect God’s glory.
The night will get dark. You will try to be a loving parent to a teenager who does not seem to love you back. You will stand in the gap between love and divorce and it will feel impossible. You will lose a job that you thought you’d always have. You will face opportunities that feel like mountains.
And when you are there, when you stand in that place, you will shine. For God’s glory. For his name. For his might and power, you will shine.
Because in God’s economy, the impossible is a gift, not a curse.
And it always amplifies God’s glory.