Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who's Afraid of the Dark?

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 3 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask that if you feel like it, please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit!)

Refusing to Be Afraid of the Dark seemed to take a more in-depth look at darkness and how we can find the light of God in our darkest moments. This was good for me to read because, like most of us, I am not a big fan of darkness (physical or spiritual). This chapter forced me to examine this and helped to remind me that times of darkness in our lives can be times of learning, leading to increased faith and blessing.

Brief recap…

In Chapter 3, Stormie explains the different kinds of darkness we can find ourselves in. Darkness can be spiritual, where we feel separated from God or the intense experience of negative emotions, like sadness or anger. The darkness we at times have to walk through can be a result of our own choices/mistakes or is an opportunity for God to teach us an important lesson or truth we would not have known otherwise. It can also prepare us for a season of great blessing. Stormie gives an example of what it’s like when the power goes out in our homes. If someone is holding a candle or flashlight, we automatically reach for their hand so that person can guide us. God wants us to reach for Him in the dark so that we draw close to His light and then He can lead us.

I recently had an opportunity to experience what complete and total physical darkness feels like. My family recently took a trip to the North Carolina Mountains and we visited some underground caverns. At one point, deep in the underground cave, our guide told everyone to turn off all cellular, digital or other light-emitting devices. She then turned off the light switch. With no light coming in from the outside, deep under ground and no artificial sources of light, everything went completely black. The lights were only out for a few seconds and during that time, I held my older son’s hand and knew my husband was only a few inches away, holding my younger son. Even so, I intensely disliked the feeling of complete darkness and could not wait for the lights to go back on!

When we are overcome with the darkness in our lives, our biggest obstacle is fear. It requires a lot of trust on our part to reach out for God’s hand during these times. We may begin to doubt our relationship with God, and trusting in Him is more crucial than ever during these times. Stormie gives some good suggestions of how to turn to God during darkness, “stop what we’re doing, look for His light and listen for His voice.” (p.34) If we realize that we are never alone and allow God to walk with us in the darkness, it becomes a much less frightening place.

I’m learning that the darkness can also be a time of grace. I love what Stormie says on page 35, “When everything around you gets darker, the light inside you will grow brighter.” Just think of the trials we face and how so many times it brings out the best in us. The incredible networks of moms helping moms, allowing all of us to come up higher time and time again is a great example of God’s grace being poured out in a time of darkness. God wants to bless us in and through the darkest times of our lives. Even though we can’t always see or feel God, His presence is always with us. I like to think about the end of the Footprints poem, where the Lord replies,

“My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Scripture Verses:

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who calls you by name, am the God of Israel.”
-Isaiah 45:3

“You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”
-2 Samuel 22:29

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
-Isaiah 42:16


Chrissy said...

Your comparison using your experience in the mountains is brilliant. It really helped me to fully grasp the concept presented in the study. This is something I always struggle with and I think your example will really help me remember. Thank you!

Jessica said...

I'm glad that comparison was helpful. Thinking about it, it felt like the physical darkness completely enveloped everything. I knew my husband was right next to me, but being the scaredy-cat I am, still felt that sense of dread. It just now clicked that in that moment I knew I wasn't alone, but was stripped of my senses so it was deceiving. It helped me make sense of the idea that even when my senses can't feel His presence, God is still there too.

Nicole Collins said...

I totally agree Jessica with the "stripping of our senses." I feel like we are all so deceived on what "this world" needs to be like that we can't focus on what God needs for us to do in this moment for eternity. Therefore when we go through our "dark" moments we feel hopeless. It's like the darkness totally engulfs us that we can't see Him there with us. We grasp for more "earthly" things to help us see the light that we totally miss out on reaching out for Him. When we see/feel Him with us, it's not so dark. In fact, it seems so promising. I've learned and have grown so much closer to God during my dark moments. Looking back over the past 6 years, I can tell you how my dark moments brought me closer to God and to where I am today with my walk with Him. I couldn't see it at the time. But now I can. Just like today, it's hard for me to see how my dark moments today are good but I have to have faith that God knows what He's doing and one day I will be able to look back on today and say "that's why that happened. I totally get it God." That doesn't mean I don't worry, that I don't forget to look for Him on my dark days. We're human. As Christians, we just have to remember at some point, hopefully sooner than later, to reach for Him in our darkness and even when it's light.
Great comparison Jessica with stripping of the senses.

Sherri said...

I just wanted to pop in to say I'm still around. We just got back from vacation so I'm trying to catch up and will probably have to just jump into next weeks conversation. :) -sherri

Jessica said...

Sherri, thanks for popping in! Hope you had a great vacation and welome back!