Sunday, September 27, 2015
For the Days When It's Too Dark to See the Next Step.....
Many decades ago Africa was called the Dark Continent.
Truly, I never knew darkness until coming here.
My first trip to visit this place I now call home was some 15 years ago.
Our airplane landed late at night, we went through customs, got our baggage, went straight to a nearby restaurant, and then drove most of the night through the darkest, bushiest place I'd ever seen in my life.
For hours the only lights we saw were the passing headlights of trucks and cars, dying cook fires in villages we passed, and a newly-flipped semi-truck that was burning while people were still trying to empty it of its cargo.
We were so tired by the time we got to our guest house rooms that I can hardly remember it. The next day was a busy blur of heat, bright sunshine, lots of noise, and trying to stay awake. I think we slept a bit that afternoon, and by the time the sun went down, every one of us on the trip was wide awake. That night a tropical storm came crashing in, lightning shredding the sky, thunder rolling and beating down on us. As soon as the winds began to howl, the lights went off. Standing on our third floor balcony, we searched for just a prick of light, but as far as our eyes could see, there was nothing but darkness. Soon the rains came, wave after wave of hot water trying to knock us down. We laughed, and we played, and we screamed into the roiling, soaking black of the night.
There were glimpses of a greater darkness on that trip, but nothing I could really comprehend until I moved here.
I've learned to face physical darkness, as we often live for hours and hours without electricity, and sometimes the hours stretch into days and nights.
I've met people here whose eyes are pits of darkness, their minds so tainted by sin that there is not a flicker of light or life left.
Some days the darkness comes for me.
It begins to creep around the edges of my mind, the lies that Satan whispers just loud enough to be heard.
He sends noises and fears in the deep hours of the night, when the mind is fuzzy with sleep, and it is easy to fall prey to His fiery darts speeding one after the other, starting a smoldering fire of terror in my soul.
Other days, it isn't the darkness I can physically feel, but a darkness of the emotions.
It isn't the pulsing, sweating, in-the-pit-of-the-stomach-fear, but instead a discouraging, worrying, dullness that slowly overtakes the heart, until all is dry, and shriveled, and empty.
This is the fear that comes when trials arise with no clear answers, when friends and family are facing pain and there is nothing anyone can do it take it away, when I feel like I should know all the words to say to make it better, but my mind is empty, my tongue is still, and the prayers sent heavenward feel like they are bouncing off brass.
This darkness aches.
It wants to lose hope.
It's the darkness that feels like it will never ever end, that nothing will ever be right in this sad world again.
It's a suffocating darkness that slowly presses all the air out of the lungs and all the truth out of the mind.
This is a place God asks us to live from time to time: a place with no seeming answers, no clear direction, and sometimes, no words to even pray.
We sit in this darkness, hunting for a tiny ray of light.
We try to force our mouths to frame the words of a prayer, though it comes out jumbled and senseless.
We seek the way to go forward, but there isn't even light for a step.
It seems like this is a darkness that will never end, the light blotted out permanently.
It is in these times I must remember to be still, to not force to move forward.
Though all I want is to find a way out of this hard place, I must not move before it is my time to do so.
I'm learning the importance of quiet expectation and hopeful surrender.
I practice waiting patiently.
And as I learn to match my will to His, the waiting becomes a time of peaceful resting, knowing that when He's ready, His light will burst through the clouds, bringing light, and life, and hope to those who sit in darkness.