Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the Darkness

I just bought a book called Celtic Blessings (compiled by Ray Simpson) and one of the prayers is “for a lonely soul” and it goes like this:

In the stillness
See the wonder of God’s art
In the silence
Feel Christ’s presence
In the sunlight
Watch the Holy Spirit dance
In the darkness
Find faith’s essence
--Jane M. Machickan

That last couplet really hit me – it’s in the darkness that we find the very essence of our faith. We all know it’s easy to believe in a kind and loving God when everything is going well. We feel His love shining down on us, as we bask in a worry-free life. But what happens when things go wrong? What happens when LIFE happens – when bad, tragic and awful things crash into our lives?

I think you can interpret that couplet as a sort of statement of fact about faith: in the darkness you will discover what your faith is really built on. If your faith is built on the premise that God is some sort of magic genie who grants your every wish, or that He will reward you if you are “good” (which implies He will punish you if you’re bad) then when bad things happen you are lost. If that is your faith, then in the darkness you find nothing to really stand on. Your whole view of God goes out the window – how can He give you bad things (or allow bad things to happen) if He loves you? Your very faith, that thing you thought sustained you, falls apart like tissue paper in the rain. You either turn your back on God for not keeping His part of the bargain, or you get angry at God and become bitter and spiteful.

On the other hand, if you believe in a God who loves you unconditionally, if you believe in a God who can create good even out of bad, if you believe in a God who will give you the strength to face anything, then when bad things happen you stand firmly on The Rock. You discover the essence of your faith, and that essence is that God loves you, and that His love for you cannot be shaken, no matter your circumstances. In the darkness, you find Christ – holding your hand, giving you strength, comforting you. You truly find that you are not alone in your walk on this earth. He is there, always. No matter how dark, no matter how bad, He is with you and He will never leave you.

Now, I’m sure that the intent of the prayer is “In the darkness, may you find the unshakable essence of faith, which is that God loves you.” And that is truly my prayer for anyone going through hard times (that is, experiencing life.) But I do think that reading it as a sort of litmus test for faith is also valid. Truly, when tragedy strikes, when hard times come, what is your faith like? You’ll find out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Am

A short one. It came to me overnight. I share it in hopes it will be an encouragement to someone.

Oh my darling one, do you know how very much you are loved? You look at what you are facing, what you are going through, and you think it’s too much, you think I have abandoned you. But, oh, my darling, this is where you can truly meet Me! In the midst of your pain, in the midst of your loneliness, I Am here. I Am holding you. I Am catching your tears as they fall. I Am whispering in your ear, “I Am with you, always.” You are not alone. You are not forgotten. Reach out to Me and you will find Me, for I Am here. I will never leave you.

Rest, now, my love – rest in my arms. Lay down your burdens, lay down the struggle. For I Am your strength. I Am your refuge. I Am your shelter. Do not try to carry this burden yourself, you were not made to do so. But let Me carry it for you. My shoulders are broad, my hand it will not falter. Rest in my arms. I will not let you go. For you are my precious child, and I Am here. Always.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Yesterday was a hard day. I’m still trying to recover, physically, from the week of WorldCon, and also still trying to regain my confidence as a writer. (Certain events transpired to make me doubt that I am a writer, which has shaken me quite a bit.) I had a good session with my mental health counselor (the incomparable Dr. Michelle Estelle of Cornerstone Psychologists) but by the end of the day I was still pretty miserable in body, mind and spirit.

As I was getting into bed, I sighed and thought, “I am tired of being strong – I can’t keep this up.” And then that still, small voice said, “You don’t have to be strong, that’s My job.” And I nearly laughed out loud, with the joy of it all, as I remembered that God is the source of my strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Phil. 4:13] I felt a huge weight fall from my shoulders. I realized I had been trying to carry my own burden, trying to “be strong” because that’s what I felt I needed to do. But in all of this I forgot the source of my strength.

Truly, I am not strong enough to carry this burden of being disabled, of being so physically weak that I have had to give up much of what I used to love, of being so tired that just getting out of bed is an accomplishment. It is just too hard to face this daily struggle – if I do so in my own strength, that is. Remembering that it’s not my strength but God’s, has given my spirit a feeling of freedom – I’m no longer responsible for “being strong” and carrying this burden! It was never mine to carry. I knew this, and lived this before, but somehow over the past few weeks I had forgotten it. I am so thankful for the gentle voice of God reminding me of His truth and His love for me.

So, today, though I’m still exhausted, and still feeling tentative as a writer, I know that I can face it all and get through it all, because I am not relying on my own, terribly fragile, strength. I have the strength of the Creator of the Universe in me! I can do this!!