It’s so dark here.
Darkness like that cave we visited on a field trip as kids. They said, “Turn off your flashlights and then put your hand in front of your face.”
So we did, and it was like we didn’t even have hands, like our hands were phantoms, lost with the rest of us in the darkness.
The darkness is complete and the silence is, too. Silence that can’t be described, like a room without windows or doors, without the whirr of air or the creak of a hinge.
I ache for a thunderstorm. That roaring, loud crash that is so obviously a message to run to safety; that rain that drenches me and makes me cold and I shiver and I shake, but at least I’m feeling something.
I dream of busy streets. That rushing to and fro, the honking of horns, that race that makes me feel like I’m doing something even if all I’ve done is cross the street alive or drive my car from one end of the city to the other.
I long for light, for a sunny day in the mountains where you almost have to close your eyes for a moment because it’s just too good, it’s just too beautiful.
But it’s dark here and I’m lost, my soul a phantom like the hand in front of my face.
And I ask,
Where are You?
I’ve never been here before, in this kind of darkness.
I’ve experienced You in the thunder and the traffic and the bright days in the mountains. I’ve experienced You in the deep ponds of disappointment and in the black crack of a heart breaking, but even there I could see my hand in front of my face. I could see it there enfolded within Your hand.
So where are You now?
“He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.” Psalm 18:11, NLT
God, my God, shrouded in darkness. This is not what I think when I think of You. This is my dark night of the soul. Here in this cave where I can’t see and I can’t feel, where the air is still and my senses have gone numb…are You shrouded in this darkness, are You here with me?
Be still, my soul, be still.
I’ve seen Him and I’ve felt Him but maybe now, here in this darkness…
Maybe now is the time to just trust Him.
He’s been so kind, so near, so palpable and real. In the sadness and the joy and everything in between, I’ve never had to doubt because I’ve sensed Him so intimately. In my anger and my fear and my dancing celebration, He filled my soul with His words and His presence. He held me in His sweet embrace.
I’ve known He’s real because I've felt Him with me.
Now that there is nothing but nothingness…maybe now is the time for faith to arise.
“But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” Psalm 131:2, NIV
Like a mother You have nourished me, but a child can’t live like that forever. You’ve fed me with sweetness and kindness, but You have a purpose for my life that requires me to stand up on feet of FAITH, faith that cannot be shaken or disturbed even in the midst of darkness, in the midst of a black night.
My soul can only hold so much, it can only taste a limited beauty. But this mind, this will, these emotions…they cannot contain eternity.
And You are the eternal. You are the One who holds eternity in Your hand. You are the Alpha and the Omega. I’ve been misled thinking I’ve experienced your fullness. It’s like putting my finger into a cup of seawater and thinking I’ve experienced the entire ocean. But this soul can only hold the few drops of eternity that trickle into this dimension of time and space.
It is my spirit that is redeemed…my spirit that has been captured for the eternal…my spirit that walks Kingdom streets and enters a Holy Throne Room each time I pray. So You’ve moved away from my soul and are ushering me into the eternity where you dwell through the only space in me that can contain it.
In this unfamiliarity of soulless night, I feel lost in the darkness. But my faith is stirring because I KNOW what is real, I KNOW what is true. And here my spirit awakens because faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
So though it is dark, though my lungs ache to breathe again, though I miss Your nearness, Your gentle whispers and Your sweet touch, I move forward in this dark night of the soul with the knowledge of what I know to be true. That…
You are good. (Psalm 136:1)
You are faithful. (2 Thess. 3:3)
You are near. (Psalm 145:18)
You never leave me or forsake me. (Psalm 31:6)
Your love is everlasting. (Psalm 136)
You have a plan for my life. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I am purchased by You for all of eternity. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
So while I come face-to-face with how very small and weak I am, I meditate on how incredibly great and wonderful You are. In myself I can do nothing and I have nothing. By You I live and move and have my being.
Even as my heart breaks and I cry in this dark, dry place, I call out in the night, “You are good, God! You are worthy of all glory and honor and praise! And if the light comes, I will praise You, and if it doesn’t, I will praise You still…for You are the magnificent King, the Name above every Name, the Author and Finisher of everything.”
Lord God, unlock my heart, unlock my lips,
and I will overcome with my joyous praise!
For the source of your pleasure is not in my performance
or the sacrifices I might offer to you.
The fountain of your pleasure is found
in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you.
You will not despise my tenderness
as I humbly bow down at your feet!
Psalm 51:15-17, The Passion Translation
You’re in the darkness. You’re shrouded within it and hiding behind the rain clouds. But it is for my good. It is so my faith may be pure and purified. It is so I might know You even better in all of Your fullness. I still may cry and ask you to take this from me. But really, please don’t until Your work in me through this is done.
I know You will hold me again…and when You do, I will look more like Jesus, like Him crucified. I will have the humility wrought by a broken and contrite heart. There’s so much in me that needs breaking still. So yes Lord, have Your way.
He’s in the darkness. I still cannot see my hand in front of my face. But I trust the One who is light to guide me even in this night.
You are good, You are good, You are good.
**This concept of The Dark Night of the Soul has been around for centuries, most meticulously and lyrically explained in the 16th Century by St. John of The Cross (if you want some deep theological reading, find a translation of his work, The Dark Night of the Soul – it’s ridiculously amazing!!!). I had not encountered this concept until recently. I first read of it in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero, who describes it as a vital piece of a Christian’s maturation process. I encountered it again shortly thereafter in reading Mother Theresa’s Come Be My Light, amazed to find out she lived in this dark night for years, which brought intense testing and sanctification of her faith in the midst of her incredible sacrificial service to the least of these. Coming across this concept when I did has been nothing short of merciful as I have entered into a dark night of my own. Had I not been able to see it for what it truly was, I surely would have fallen into despair. But as it stands, I can see God in it. I look forward to its ending, but I am also thankful for its appearing. If you find yourself in a dark night, too, just know that God is still there, and He is loving you through this. Here are two very good articles about the dark night if you’re looking for more info or encouragement regarding this topic: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/my-dark-night-of-the-soul, http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2015/february-online-only/3-truths-of-dark-night-of-soul.html**
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