The Prodigal Daughter

10846156_10205084650657371_1107540708525779365_nAnd in those moments when it seems I have nothing, there’s always a light to lead me home. Lauren Eline, Facebook

I know what He wants for Christmas. I’ve discovered the perfect gift for the One who already gave perfection. And it’s so simple. It was something on Facebook that clued me in. See, He leaves breadcrumbs for His children all the time. Little drops of light to lead us to where He desires us to go. And that’s how I know what He wants for I followed His breadcrumbs. I’ve been leaping from one ray of light to the next and so now, I see. They’ve been leading me home. To my Father’s house. And that’s it. All He wants for Christmas is me, and all His children, to come home. That’s what He’s been trying to tell me. And isn’t this what every parent desires? To have their kids home for the holidays?

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. James 1:17

I am slow. So slow. Because it appears God has to show me something again and again before I get it (and again). Because we just went through something a year ago. It’s this fear thing. But His word is clear… perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment. And so, if I believe God loves me as His word says, should I fear? Should I expect punishment from God? And yet, I find myself going back there again and again. Just waiting for God to drop the ax. Like an errant child, I await my punishment. Most recently, the birth of my new baby set me down this path. It goes back to guilt I hold. I feel guilty for being discontent. And because I don’t think I fully appreciate what God has given, I agonize. Namely, over my children. Because if I can’t appreciate them as much as I should, then perhaps God will decide to just take them away. This irrational thought came to me a few years back…

For to the one who has, it will be given, and from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Mark 4:25 

For a long time I thought that verse referred to things we have. Possessions. Like my kids. All that God has given. And it caused me to fear the worst. And isn’t that a crazy thought? Why should I think God wants to take away what He’s given. Why would the One who gave everything desire to take away? But thankfully, I finally realized what the writer is talking about for the passage of Scripture refers to using your light. And my life gives evidence as to how one can lose her light. See, I’m a worrier. And the more I worry, the dimmer the light becomes. And the more anxious I am, the more that light ebbs away. And when I fear, the light is nearly extinguished. Before I know it, I live in the shadow lands. I dwell in darkness because I can barely see the light. But then, I find a breadcrumb. There’s a beam of light and it beckons. Like the one I saw on Facebook last night.

The people who live in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the shadowland of death,
light has dawned. Matthew 4:16

This morning I realized I am just like the prodigal son I read about in Luke 15. He asked his father for his share of the estate and his father gave it. Me? I ask my Father for His love and He gives it. And like the son who went off and spent all his father gave him, I do the same. God assures me He loves me (again and again), but I squander away His precious words. For some reason, I remain insecure despite His very clear words to me. Oh, so clear. In fact, in early November God couldn’t have spoken more directly. He was personal and intimate. And He used someone who barely knows me to convey His message. It was quite remarkable. But rather than rest in those words, I remain the prodigal daughter. I still roam blindly in the dark.

But thankfully, I have the prodigal son to look to. Oh, how surprised he must have been for He lost everything. He had nothing and dwelled with the pigs he fed. He was starving.  But finally, he came to his senses. Finally. He thought he’d return to his father and confess. He decided he’d ask to be made a hired hand… he would work for his father in order to live. But when he came to his home country, his father saw him from afar and came running. Running with open arms to greet his lost son. Dad fell upon his neck and kissed him again and again. All his son could get out was, “I’m not worthy to be called your son.” He didn’t even get out the part about working before a robe and a ring and sandals were placed upon him. He was warmly welcomed into his father’s house with a great feast… music and dancing. His father was just so happy. For his lost son had been found. His son who was dead was now alive.

And then there’s me. The prodigal daughter. I’ve been living in the shadow land of death. That’s what fear will do to you. But God, my Father, my Daddy… He told me most clearly and tenderly in November that He loves me. He said He loves my children so much more than I ever could. And He chose me to raise them. He said to not fear His will. He said I’ve been distracted by the noise around me – noise from fears compounded onto fears – worries of a 1,000 what if’s. He said I should learn to quiet myself and focus on His voice… the voice of my Daddy. The God of all creation said that’s what He is to me… a Daddy. He said when I love my children, I am most like Him. When Annabelle and Levi cry for me, in pain or in joy, I should multiply that feeling by 1,000 and I’ll begin to see how He feels for me. This is what my Daddy said. Clearly. So then, why should I fear? Because the way I felt yesterday when I kissed my daughter a thousand times is exactly what He feels for me. When I exclaimed over her little smiling face, I love you, I love you, I love you, I am most like Him. So why do I squander away His precious words of assurance? And so today, I choose not to. It’s as if I have finally come to my senses. Finally. Because Daddy told me He loves me. And today, He tells me to come home for Christmas.

 Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

He leaves breadcrumbs. Drops of light. On that first Christmas long ago, He sent His Son as a light to the world. And He’s the One who knows the way to our Father’s house. We can follow Him. And we don’t have to fear if we lose sight of our big Brother. For those times we lag behind, we have another light to follow. Because God also gave us His Spirit. Just as it hovered over the watery depths at the beginning of creation, it hovers over our fickle hearts. For those times we wander… when worry draws us down a darkened path or when anxiety leads us astray or when fear blinds our eyes… there is a flame. It’s a candle that never goes out and it sits in the window of our darkened soul. It beckons us home. And as we draw near and peer inside, we see the house is fully lit. Warm light draws us to open the door and when we do, Daddy throws His arms open wide. He pulls us close and kisses our face a thousand times. He says, I love you, I love you, I love you! He’s so happy because the daughter who was lost is now found. The daughter who was dead, who trod the valley of the shadow of death, is now alive. She finally made it. And when she does, He says welcome home…. that He’d been waiting for her.

This is what God, our Father of lights, wants for Christmas. And His call is not just for me. Because He wants all his sons and daughters of light to come home. He’s placed a candle in the windows of our soul. It’s there to light our way. We just need to look for it…

Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.”  John 12:35-36

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A Tale of Two Kitties

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I may or may not have two cats. One is safe in the house, but the other is nowhere to be seen. It was yesterday at 5:00 that he lay stretched out across my deck in the sunshine. He slowly washed his paws and looked as if he were going to take a nap. And, we left our home expecting to see him when we returned. But last night, there was no flash in the dark… no reflected light off his white tufts of fur. He did not bound up the back yard toward us, which was his usual routine. And so, this morning, my heart is heavy – wondering if I will see him again.

I can’t help but contrast my two kitties, Otis and Molly. For they are different in every way. Otis is young, and Molly is old. Otis is skinny and Molly is fat. He is full of life and energetic, and she is heavy and content to sleep. He delights us every day with his antics, while she is usually nowhere to be seen. He stays outside, and she stays inside. He is a lover of adventure, and she is a lover of the dark. He is highly visible, jumping and leaping and hunting and climbing. She stays covered and hidden and scurries and flees. He is fearless and she is fearful. Basically, Otis uses what he has, and Molly does not. And as of this morning, she is here… and he is not.

Yesterday morning, my pastor preached a sermon using the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25). And believe it or not, it’s my two kitties that bring this parable to light for me. See, although the passage stresses using money wisely to further the kingdom of God, it goes deeper than that. It doesn’t have to be money, it could be anything… the abilities and the talents and the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. And it was Matthew 25:29 that nearly knocked me over yesterday. Because it happens to be identical to a verse I pointed out to my husband earlier that morning – only it was Mark 4:25. “For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”  I told my husband, we need to embrace what we have! Little did I know that I would be hearing more about it at church. And I didn’t realize how personal the sermon was going to be… a message from God directly to me.

He also said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!” Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you. For to the one who has, it will be given, and from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:21-25

This morning, I wanted to see if Mark 4:25 is the same parable that I find in Matthew 25. But it’s not… and it’s the passage in Mark that really brought all this together for me. The parable in Matthew along with the book of Mark completes the picture, and what I find is Molly. She is truly a night-time kitty. Occasionally, you’ll find her during the day, but more often than not, when the sun rises… she’s gone. She’s just too skittish. Years ago, her favorite refuge was our bed. All you could see of her was a lump in the center where she had burrowed down deep under the covers. She stayed hidden. And today, you may catch a glimpse of her tail as she scurries down the steps to the basement. Or maybe if you peer under the beds, you’ll find her shining eyes staring back at you. Or perhaps you’ll find her in her newest hang-out, which we discovered recently when we heard a racket behind the closed doors of our closet. Yes, Molly is a lover of darkness, and will stay hidden most of the day. But, she is making progress. When it’s just me at home, she may venture out into the daylight. But generally, I’ll see her once the sun has set and quietness has settled on our home. This is when she emerges and graces me with her presence. And when I see her, I am delighted by her black fur, her huge eyes, and her big fat belly that nearly touches the ground, swaying back and forth as she scampers from here to there. She’s 14 years old now, so she hasn’t kept her sleek physique. The picture of her is from long ago…

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You know… I talk about Molly being a lover of the dark, but in reality, I am the same way. In truth, I have been clinging to the dark every bit as much as she does. I know this to be reality because not that long ago, God showed me something so hideous. Actually, it was just after I made the decision to take a break from blogging. I thought I knew why I was taking a step back, but now, I’m pretty sure I hadn’t a clue. For there was something within me I wasn’t fully aware of at the time. See, on August 1, I said to myself, no more writing! But it was not till August 2 that God revealed what lie beneath…  and that is what needed to come to the surface. For as the Lord says, nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light…

Through the course of my blogging experience, I have often referred to my struggle with darkness. I’ve surreptitiously referred to it as an issue, a pattern, or even a stronghold – always careful – always tiptoeing around the word sin. But sin is sin, and darkness is darkness, and the pages of Scripture leave no trace of doubt in my heart:

The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11

This is the truth about God & me. I love Him the best I know how. I have been seeking Him the best I know how. But there is a part of me that I’ve been holding back… clinging to the hate that resides deep down. I have been stoking the fire for years. And as long as I hold to hate… there will be darkness. This is what I’ve been trying to process for the past three weeks. And for the life of me, some stuff remains in my heart. I’m trying… I really am. And so, I am like Molly… my black kitty who is a lover of the shroud of darkness. She hides out and runs away. She stays concealed, because it’s safe to her. The bulk of her life has been spent in darkness. And me, too…

And then there’s Otis. I don’t know that he’ll return to me and my heart aches. But you know… in one short year, he has lived a full life. He has lived so much more than Molly, for he has experienced a world she will never know. This cat called Otis has embraced life. He has let his light shine in view of anyone who would give him audience. He used what God gave him… with claws as sharp as needles, he scaled great heights and saw further than Molly ever will. With legs as fast as lightning, he covered distances that Molly will never know. With courage the size of Texas, he explored the wilderness behind our home… woods in which Molly will never travel. With the fury of a skilled hunter, he took down countless foes and laid them as gifts upon our doorstep. Otis was a burning lamp, and he did not hide his light under a basket. He used what he had. And Molly? Why, she hides herself away, nestled down in the safety of her darkness – which is her only reality. Molly may never embrace the light, but Otis fully did.

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And then, there’s me. I am a work in progress. So much like Molly, but with all my heart, I want to be like Otis. Like him, I want to embrace the light. I want to shine the light. And more than anything, I want to use what God gave me. And so, not long ago, I ventured out. But too quickly, like a scared animal, I tucked my tail up under my body and retreated back into hiding. But alas, there are truths that must be shared. There are things within me that must come out. For they’ve been there so long – buried deep, festering and brewing and bubbling in the dark. But like a volcano erupts forth in violence, so has my heart. And ever since, the lava of wrath has been pouring forth – emptying itself so that no darkness remains. Everything I thought better hidden… everything that held me captive… has finally presented itself to the light. See, I have been chasing the light. I’ve been writing about it, and reaching for it. And now, I can really see…

I thought that morning light had fully broken over my soul. But like one who emerges from the heaviness of sleep, I rub my tired eyes and face the truth. And now I know… what I thought was the fullness of morning light was really just the faintest glimmer of the dawn. But morning light is on the horizon. The darkness of hate shall be left behind. And Otis? He may turn up yet. For he may be out there right now… simply using what God gave him to use… a lamp shining bright.

Everything exposed by the light is made clear, but what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. Ephesians 5:13-14

In the light

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From one man He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live, so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27

I’ve written extensively about the Summer/early Fall of 2010. Because as far as my relationship with God goes, that time period was a turning point. And all the years leading up to then brought me to that appointed time and place. It was in Pinehurst, NC, when I really turned to Him. Heart, mind and soul. It was a time when I sought God fervently. I threw myself into His word desperately seeking God. But alas, I turned away too quickly. And here I am today. And now, in my new boundaries, I again am desperately seeking God. And so, I live out Acts 17:27. See, in reaching out and seeking God, I found Him. And the truth about God & me is… well, in finding God, I also found myself. Because I approached Him, and I stepped into light. His light. And so, everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light (Ephesians 5:13). In seeking the truth about God, I also find the truth about myself. Thus, darkness.

Micah 7:8 is such a beautiful verse. It moves me. BUT, if I go just a bit further – things become clear.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the LORD’s rage until He argues my case and establishes justice for me. He will bring me into the light; I will see His salvation. Micah 7:8-9

Yes, there lies the truth about my darkness. There lies the truth about God & me. And isn’t that the whole point of this blog. Telling the truth. For whatever He tells me in the dark, I shall speak in the light. Whatever I hear in a whisper, I shall proclaim on the housetops (Matthew 10:27). See, I can color it any way I want to… issues, patterns, habits, strongholds… but when it comes down to it, a sin by any other name is still a sin. This is what has been revealed to me… in the dark. All of this is beginning to make sense now. In February, start a blog (me… a blog… crazy!) And I thought that perhaps the blog would be what I had previously written… that they may know. But soon into this writing endeavor, it was clear that I had to look back. I had to go the way I came… and not that they may know, but that I may know. That I may know. The truth.

Set up road markers for yourself; establish signposts! Keep the highway in mind, the way you have traveled. Return, Virgin Israel! Return to these cities of yours. How long will you turn here and there, faithless daughter? For the LORD creates something new in the land – a female will shelter a man. Jeremiah 30:21-22

Yes, go back… the way I traveled. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Retracing steps… the steps that led me to Him in the first place. And what I see clearly is perpetual sin. See, when God shows you something about yourself – over and over and over and over again – that you should turn from, but you don’t… well simply, that’s sin. That’s dwelling in sin. And it’s a choice. And my life is proof positive that the result of choosing sin is darkness. How funny. How often I’ve written about the darkness and depression that surrounds me, and holds me, but I just didn’t know why. Well, He shows me. He has shown me. Over and over again. Through His word. And I can turn this way and that until finally, finally… I relent. And then, I repent. There’s that word. A touchy word, right? No one wants to hear it. But, it’s what the prophets of old proclaimed. It’s what John the Baptist shouted when he prepared the way for Christ, and it was the first thing our Lord and Savior preached when He began His ministry. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! How lovely to hear that it has come near. He is near, God is near. For in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28). It’s in the 17th chapter of Acts that I read, “God now commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Darkness, desert land, dry land, wilderness wandering… yes, I can color it any way I please, but if I want to tell the truth about God & me (and I do), then my darkness comes from my sin. This is my truth. But as the prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned.” Yes, morning has broken on my path, and all things are made clear. And I am tired and weary. So tired… of myself. He’s told me over and over again, go beyond me. And yet, I’ve stayed right here in my own little hole with perhaps a little too much introspection (it can make you selfish, you know). And I’ve still not turned to Him… to what He’s told me to do. And so, there lies the key to my darkness. It’s sin. And I am ready to turn from it. Because I don’t want to dwell in the darkness anymore. And this is what repentance is… turning from what you know you shouldn’t do (the darkness), and turning to Him and what He says to do (the light).

It was not long ago that I thought, “a woman shall encompass a man.” It’s referenced above (Jeremiah 30:22)… “A female will shelter a man.” This is Jesus. Mary carried Him in her womb, and he was birthed into the world. God in the form of man. And the Son of Man walked perfectly… a blameless man. He was tempted in every way that we are, and yet, He knew no sin. And yet, He took on all sin. That’s the whole point of the cross. The cross is the biggest turning point in one’s life, because it was there that Jesus took on the sin of the whole world. He died for that sin so we wouldn’t have to. And do you know what happened? From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. As Jesus hung on that cross, cloaked in our sin, the darkness covered the land. He cried out, “My God, My God, why have forsaken Me?” See, God cannot look upon sin. But then, when Jesus finally died carrying our sin to the grave, the veil in the temple was split into – from the top to the bottom. It was this veil that separated the priests from the Holy of Holies. It was that most inner sanctuary of the temple that housed the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat. It was there that God’s presence would appear. But, upon Jesus’ death, the veil was split. In so doing, through Jesus, we have direct access to the Holy of Holies. And His light.

Jesus took our sin to the grave. And we can be forgiven that sin. But first, we must turn from it. We must repent. In so doing, we exit the darkness and enter His light.

“This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:19-21

Light of men

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With me, it began with His word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5. How beautiful are His words. And how beautiful is He, for He is the Word. And He is the life. He is the light of men and He shines in the dark, for darkness could not hold Him.

The Word. God’s word. I feast on it. And thus, I feast on Jesus. But I haven’t always. No, for so long I nibbled on bits and pieces of Him. But eventually, bits and pieces grew to a steady diet. And now, I cannot get enough of Him. Because the more I read, the more I know about Him. And His word is transforming. See, through the pages of Scripture God begins to speak to us… directly and individually and specifically. And that’s where it all began with me. Reading the word. Reading Jesus.

It was three years ago that I had had enough. Enough of me. It was a turning point, really. And so, I sought God fervently… through His word. And He spoke volumes to me. For it was through the pages of Scripture that I found out what I needed to do to move from where I was. In order to move away from me, and the darkness, I had to purpose to know Him in my heart. I had to determine it, and then, move towards the light… towards Him. Because if I wanted to know God, it wasn’t just going to magically happen. I had to participate…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10

This verse was a life-changer. But three years ago, I had a different version of the Bible. And then, I read it in light of God. Father God. But now, I see. To know Father God, I must first know His Son. That’s the only way to know God, for Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. And that’s what this journey is all about. See, upon finding Philippians 3:10 so long ago, I didn’t really know what I was asking for when I claimed that verse. Honestly, I simply purposed to know God… aside from His Son. But, oh, to know Christ is to know God. For they are One and the Same. And to know Christ… I mean really know Him… we must follow Him. All the way. And when we do, we begin to put off our old self. We begin to transform as we put on a new self who is renewed according to the image of Him who created us. Colossians 3:10. But this can be painful. For in order to be resurrected, we must first die. And just as Jesus suffered, so shall we. And not just in an eternal, end of life kind of way. No, it’s a daily thing.

I think most of us have heard, “WWJD.” What would Jesus do? Some people wear it on a bracelet, or a necklace. And it’s a nice thought… Jesus would help someone in need, or He would be kind to an unlikeable person, or He would heal the sick. You know all those great things Jesus did. But in reality, Jesus came to die. Ultimately, that’s what He did. He died for us. He put His life last, and put us first. That’s what Jesus did then, and that’s what He would do today. He died, and He expects us to do the same. The truth about God & me? I don’t want to die. Not all the way. Not like He did. I’m too selfish. The truth? All this darkness that surrounds me? Well, there’s layers to it. And one layer for certain is my selfishness. The darkness in which I dwell? Well, I’m still in the tomb. But that’s okay, for I know that I know that I know that He’s working on me. I will be resurrected. And here on earth, too, not on the other side of eternity. It’ll happen here where people will witness my resurrected life. Like Lazarus. Whatever suffering I may endure is simply me dying… to me. Following Jesus unto death. It’s what He would do. It’s what He did. For us.

It was Sunday morning as I walked up the steps to my church that a random thought came to me… “A woman shall encompass a man.” It wasn’t much later that my Sunday School teacher took us to Jeremiah 31. Although we read about the New Covenant, my eyes fell to verse 22… For the LORD creates something new in the land – a female will shelter a man. This is the verse that came to me earlier… different version. That day, I thought God was just telling me His eye was upon me. He saw me. But now, I wonder if it was something more…

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child,she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:20-22

Labor is painful, but a new life bursts forth. Anguish and pain will turn to rejoicing. In the same way, dying to self is painful. But, new life bursts forth. We’ll receive beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. WWJD? He would suffer, and He would die. But He would also burst forth – new life. Remember… He told us these things so that we would have peace. He said we would have tribulation, but to be of good cheer… for He had overcome the world. John 16:33.

You see, with me, it began with His word. And through it, I found that life was in Jesus, and that He was the light of men. I found that He shines in the darkness, and that darkness did not overcome Him. And it will not overcome me, either. For I’m following Jesus. I, too, shall overcome.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Micah 7:8

In the dark

Storm

I’m not sure how many more blogs there will be. Because it seems as if this blog has been a journey. And perhaps at some point and time, I may actually find my way. I’ve had that feeling several times now. Once, I even typed up a “Gone Fishin'” blog, and was ready to “hang it.” But, more words came. And I guess the reason I mention a possible ending is because of all the darkness. I keep going back to “dark times.” But you know, I think I already know the answer to the darkness. I’m quite sure God has told me what to do about that. But oddly, I see ahead to more twists and turns of this blog. And as I’m being led along, it appears that I’m in a holding pattern of sorts… for now. See, the light shines and beckons me. And if I can just make it there, I’ll be okay. I creep closer and closer, and drag myself to the edge of light, but then something sends me off in another direction. Delayed.

You know, I wrote a book in the fall of 2011. It’s my story… all about God & me. And at first, it was titled, “From Darkness to Light… that they may know.” But the funny thing was, the light was still out of reach. Because on the heels of writing it, I sank to such a depth of darkness, it took some time to rise above it. And so, it was last summer that I rewrote my story. As a matter of fact, I believe it was in July… one year ago. And so, the second draft was called, “My True Deliverance… Wilderness Wanderings of a Modern Day Woman.” And here I am today, still writing my story. But this time, through blog format. And what’s apparent to me today is that I’m still walking in the dark. And despite my best efforts, I persist in wandering through the desert. And so, I wonder. Perhaps what I originally thought was an offering to God… a standing stone to memorialize what He has done for me… is actually my “Farewell.” Because I am writing about what’s closest to my heart and mind. It’s everything that’s important to me… and it’s what I want for my son, and for my family, and for my friends to know. It’s everything I would want to pass on to those I care the most about. My fare ye well, so to speak.

This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. Jeremiah 17:5-6

Do you know what the Arabah is? It’s desert. And this is such a picture of me. For there is still this part of me that places my trust in human flesh. There is still part of me that turns from God. And so help me, I cannot see the good when it comes. I have been dwelling in a parched place, a lonely place, a dark place… but it’s really my own doing. But you know what. I feel more hopeful right now than I have in a long while. I feel the stirrings of revival down deep in my soul. And I can sense the warmth of His light filtering through haze. Yes, hope is taking root. And it’s good.

You know… God called His people out of Egypt. He delivered them from slavery, and made Moses their leader. And after a dramatic deliverance from the Egyptians through the Red Sea, God led His chosen people through the desert on a journey to the land of promise. And at first, the people sang praises to God. But it only took a few days before praise turned to complaint. And then, complaint turned to distrust and disobedience, which kept them wandering the desert for 40 years. And it was through their wilderness wanderings that the children of Israel discovered just how much they needed God.

And then… there’s me. I felt that God delivered me from a place I didn’t want to be, and led me directly into my promised land of Virginia. But in looking back, I can see what really happened. For the footsteps that led me to my hometown really deposited me into the middle of a desert land. Because that’s how I’ve been living the past three years. I’ve been dwelling in a parched land, despite being in the very place I wanted to be more than anything. I could not see the good when it came. And so, praise turned to complaint, and then to distrust, followed up by disobedience to God! And thus, I am in the dark. And thus, God feels distant. And so, it’s here… in the midst of my wandering that I realize the truth. I know how very much I need Him. Because nothing else will work. Nothing. Because when you’re in the dark, well, quite obviously… you need a light. Eventually, you simply get tired of walking blindly.

And here’s the best part… I once was blind, but now I see. And because my sight is restored, I finally realize… there’s purpose to this darkness. See, if I never experienced the dark, how would I ever recognize the light? And the darker the days, the brighter His light burns. And so finally, this wretched soul can see. Because there is light… His light. And because His light is within me, I find that my dark is not so dark after all. And I finally understand that God has been here with me this whole time. Not just in the good times, but also in the center of the storms. He’s here in the midst of the darkness… right here with me… simply waiting for my eyes to adjust.

All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance. Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18, 20

The people feared the thunder and lightning. The dark smoke intimidated them, and so they stood at a distance. But not Moses… He knew it was God. He knew God’s nature, and did not fear the storm. And so Moses went forward… and approached the thick darkness where God was. God was in the darkness. And so, when I have those moments, I must remember. He’s with me… in the dark. And there’s purpose. It’s so that I’ll really see Him. Because when I’m at my darkest, His light shines the brightest. This is when I need Him the most.

And so, like Moses, I shall not fear the storm. Because I know God is in the midst of it. And the purpose of the dark is so that I’ll learn to trust Him. Because when I’m at my darkest, it’s then that I realize nothing else will do. Nothing but Him. Because I need Him, I’ll turn to Him. His light will draw me. For God does not intend for His children to walk in the dark. No, He calls them out of the darkness… into light.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light. 2 Peter 2:9