Thursday, February 27, 2014

In the shadow of the Almighty

I was alone in the house and the quiet was deafening.  The future looked so different now, but not so markedly different than when I was 18.  I now have an 18 year old and a fourteen year old as well.  The children are my greatest gifts, the years have flown by, and the harshness of divorce has withered into the past.  It’s my future that seems like a familiar dark hole.  I say familiar because I’ve seen that darkness before.  When I was younger, and before I graduated college, I saw a looming, ominous, and frightening darkness when I thought of my future.  At that time, I was fearful of what that signified, what that meant or didn’t mean.  Only many years later, I realized that this same darkness was found in the Bible.  
In the beginning “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep…” the very same darkness I felt when I considered my future.  The Message describes the darkness like this: “The earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness.”  Gen.1:2
I wonder if you have ever felt that way?  I wonder if you have ever seen that darkness?  Maybe you too have experienced divorce or an affair, a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness or even the death of someone, a child, and the pain is more than you can bear.  I, too, have been there.  Not only is the pain intense in the heat of the moment but also when the crisis is “over” and you have to start again.  I wonder just where and when does that happen?  When do you decide to start living again?  What happens inside that let’s us know we have to get back up?

Having come across this description of what was in the beginning, you can imagine the interest, curiosity, and pursuit that took flight in my heart as I wondered at what I was seeing.  The elusive feelings were not only identified but also described in such a way that I knew there was more to my experience than I had conceived.  What on earth could God do with such blackness, darkness, and emptiness?  What could He do with a broken framework, void of what was once known, trusted, and accepted?  What could He do with a future that has no plans, ideas, or even experience?  What could He do with a life that really has no influence in the world and at best is stained with the actions of another’s sin?  What only He can do!  I began to see it clearly. It was in the midst of said darkness that The Father broke into such bottomless emptiness and as “the Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters,” Jesus began His creative work.  In the midst of all that was void and without form, the genius of True creativity ensued.  Can you see Him?  Can you see His brilliant Light exploding in the darkness and suddenly light took off at astounding speed with which we cannot catch up?  He then in sheer power personally separated the light from the darkness.  He made the day and night, the heavens and oceans and all that is in them.  He made the plants, trees, shrubs, and grass.  He placed the stars and moon in the night sky, and the sun to rule over the day.  He made the animals and provided food for them.  Finally, He made man.  Man was different from anything He had created so far because man would be made in His image.  The woman was created after man and was the “crown of His creation.”   God saw that everything He made was good.  Goodness from darkness?  Structure, habitats, homes, purpose, relationship, provision, presence, activity, and focus were the result of all that was dark, void and without form.  

In the New Testament darkness took on another role.  In Luke 23 the scene is one of earthly chaos, confusion, and calamity.  It was about the sixth hour, high noon, and there was darkness.  Jesus was hanging on a cross between two criminals. There were soldiers all around jeering at Him and mocking Him as well as those who loved Him, refusing to leave Him alone to die.  The Bible says that on that day “there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (3 O’clock)…the sun’s light failed.”  This had never happened before.  Remember in the beginning, the brilliant Light exploding in the darkness and suddenly the world lit up? Here we are again, darkness and yet in the face of death His most creative moment was in progress? What seemed like the end was excruciating.  

I have had a glimpse of such despair in my life and I am sure you have as well.  As hard as it is go back to that place, where the sun failed to shine and you found yourself torn, confused, empty, and void, go there anyway.  While I have had a glimpse, Jesus has seen it all.  He did not just glimpse our pain or even our sin, He looked it straight in the eye, took the penalty for it upon Himself, and sacrificed His life so we could see the LIGHT.  The price was too high.  His life was too extravagant to sacrifice and yet He did.  But Jesus was not left in the grave.  In fact, “at the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb…they found the entrance stone rolled back…so they walked inside.”  They did not find the body of Jesus in the tomb!  “They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this.”  So many times we wonder at what to make of our circumstances, our pasts and even our futures.  But lay that aside for just a little while and stay in the moment with these women.  They were expecting to find the body of Jesus.  They were in the darkest season of their lives when “out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there…the men said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen!”  Life from Death?  Wholeness, cleansing, relationship, forgiveness of sins, restoration, salvation, life, and LIGHT all resulted from the death of the Son of God who did not deserve to die and yet He did for me, for you, for all of us.   

God sees this kind of darkness differently than we do.  He does not fear or become anxious or overwhelmed by what looms in the shadows.  In fact, because in John 1:4-5 it states: “In Him was life, and the Life was the light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…” it was in the darkest of moments that the most creative force occurred. Romans 8:11 states If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  The most liberating news is that our darkest moments can be times of God’s greatest creative work in our lives.  Maybe the darkness is the shadow of the Almighty going before us leading us to the heights only known by Him.  The view is spectacular…can you see it?

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