Tag: darkness

One Defiant Act You Can Choose This Christmas

I stand outside in the early dawn of my hometown, and tears pool in my eyes.

I am moved by this – the bravest picture I’ve seen this season. A picture of defiance over darkness, hope holding on.

My brother, David died of cancer 2 1/2 years ago.

He was an “everyone is welcome” guy. A “we’ll leave the light on” guy. A “stop by anytime…come as you are” guy. But since his death, the house has looked shadowed, like it was grieving too.

Until now. Until this small act of defiance, by my sister-in-law, Susan. A courageous act of choosing Life.

Susan chose the small, but significant act of putting up Christmas lights.

To me it shouts, “I will NOT let the darkness win!”

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

God made us for Life – life in relationship with Him, now, and forever. There’s nothing the Evil One would like more than convincing us that the darkness of loss and pain are too much, too pervasive, to allow us to ever walk in the light again.

Courage doesn’t mean the darkness doesn’t exist. It means you don’t give it the power to control your life. 

Many of you are experiencing pain, and loss this Advent.

You need to be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to say “no”. Choose what will nurture and sustain you. Draw near to Jesus.

But I also know that you can make choices to courageously light a candle in your darkness. Your tiny light may look like

  • just getting out of bed in the morning
  • finding one thing to thank God for
  • calling a friend
  • listening to worship music
  • serving someone else

Every year our church has a special worship service at the beginning of December, specifically for people struggling with darkness and loss during the Christmas season. Each person who shows up is courageous…choosing light over darkness.

This year we opened with this song. I pray it encourages you.

God will make a way through the darkness. I’m cheering you on as you choose the defiant act of lighting a candle.

What are some ways you are bringing light to the darkness?

 

Seeing Light in Darkness

Saturday we sprang forward and Sunday it was an unbelievable 46 degrees here. Spring, that shameless hussy, is flirting with us. There was a guy in church with shorts on. Seriously.

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If you’re reading this from Florida, or Australia, or Nazareth, this may not seem like it’s a big deal, but I live in MINNESOTA, where it often snows on Easter for Pete’s sake!

Nevertheless, I’ve been seduced.  I’m finally ready to unplug the white twinkly lights that have been dressing up our pine tree and bushes since November when the Dark crept up on Minnesota and we needed a reminder that the Light will always prevail.  We needed something to cheer us, something to assure us that there are things to celebrate even when they are hard to see.

These days, as the sun hangs around a little later each afternoon, and streets become drippy and puddly, and green things begin to consider whether it’s safe to peek out of the cold ground again, our pine trees look a little foolish with twinkles, all dressed up at 4:00 when it’s still light. Like a teenage girl anxiously dressed early for prom and trying too hard to be noticed.

So I’ll unplug the lights and enjoy the sun, and I’ve even turned off the heat, but I’m on my guard because March is the month that is constantly playing “Ding Dong Ditch”.  She fools us into answering the door, sure there is Springy goodness waiting on the other side, and then Bam! Ha! We open and winter slams us in the face.

One thing we can be sure of is that light will prevail, and the lengthening days are a reminder that.

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5). 

Even in the long winter months when all can seem lost, there are glimmers of God-light. Continue reading

The Prayer I Resist Praying

I was g-chatting with daughter Katy yesterday morning.  This is how it went…

Katy: Thanks for sending your Zambia itinerary! Turns out I may be traveling at the same time for work.

Me: Oh! Fun!  Where?

Katy: Kabul.

Me: WHATTTT????!!!  As in Kabul Afghanistan?

Katy: And this is why I told you over g-chat…to preserve my ear-drums.

We’ve made a boat-load of mistakes as parents.  Big ones, little ones, and ones we laugh at in retrospect, like the time John accidentally gave Maggie Ipecac instead of cough medicine in the middle of the night and wondered why she kept throwing up.

But one that looms large in my mind was when we let our then eighteen year old daughter, Maggie, graduate early from high school and go to live with a mission organization in Kibera – a terrible slum in Nairobi.

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We went to visit her in the rainy season of mud which just added to the despair.

There was someone stoned outside where she was living.

She told us of coming upon a toddler sitting alone in the dirt, chewing on a used condom.

What kind of terrible parent lets their child go live in such a place???

Well, apparently this one.

It’s a parenting choice that I’ve been tempted to regret, but one that God has used.

Today I was reading Acts 4:23-31.  Peter and John have just been released from the religious officials who were totally ticked off because they had healed a lame beggar and preached some crazy stuff about the power of Jesus and Him being the only way.  They come back to their friends and tell them everything that has happened.

And then they pray for a hedge of protection.

NOT.

They thank God and pray for BOLDNESS!  Not the go-plan I naturally gravitate towards for our family!

Note to self:  This does not say they prayed to have an EQ lobotomy or to be offensive for Jesus, but Peter and John have me thinking…

Does the kingdom advance without boldness?  Without taking the love of Jesus into dark places, trusting that He will be our light and our shield?

Holy buckets!  What does this mean for me, for you?  Boldness may not mean taking the light of Jesus half-way around the world, but just across town or into relationships that require supernatural love, or perseverance, or hard truth.

It has me praying with open hands, saying,

“We are yours.  Help us to be bold and brave and humble in carrying the light of your love into dark places.  Do what only You can do in us and through us.”

Is it hard for you, like Peter and John, to pray for boldness for yourself or your children?  How might God ask you to take His light into a dark place today?

 

Dark Days

This is my view as I write at 5:45 a.m.

photo-66Trouble is I’d have much the same view at 7 a.m., or 4:30 p.m.  It’s just that time of year when everything goes frozen and dark and silent.  It’s a living picture of Advent – that time of waiting in darkness for the Light of the World to appear.

As I write I’m wondering how many people reading this feel like they’re waiting for something.  Longing.  And how many feel like they are in a time of deep darkness when they can’t see anything that makes sense.  Fuzzy outlines, but nothing sure.

Darkness and longing.

Ever heard of night blindness?  

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