But the other day I found myself sitting in Starbucks, reading my Bible and feeling the Presence of God just sweep over me in a wave. His peace and assurance flowed over me and I was suddenly overcome with his presence - in my life and in that moment. That always seems to happen to me. Maybe I need to stop having my quiet time in public, because I always end up in tears hoping no one is really paying attention. Anyone else? No? Just me.
I was reminded in that moment how much I need to embrace this season of waiting, of asking questions, of long prayers and tears. At other times, I've actually craved this state of life - I've asked God to put me in situations that I can't handle so that I have to rely on him. I've asked him to stretch and mold me. I've pleaded for more of him... and that means I need to find him in every season of life, every stage of sorrow, every crack and crevice of my day to day.
I'm beginning to see his presence in a new light. Comforter takes on a new meaning. I'm suddenly so thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I have no words (Romans 8:26). Being in this place may be harder, but it also means that I am experiencing Jesus in a new way, in a way impossible in my previous circumstances.
It's like someone born with sight cannot understand blindness until being without his sight. I've been reading Learning to Walk In the Dark by Barbara Taylor. She shares her new perspective of sight after participating in "Dialogue in the Dark" in which sighted people and blind people switch places. Sighted people are given white canes and led through a sort of dark exhibition hall by a blind guide. After having this experience without sight, Taylor writes:
"...It makes me wonder how seeing has made me blind - by giving cheap confidence that one quick glance at things can tell me what they are, by distracting me from learning how the light inside me works, by fooling me into thinking I have a clear view of how things really are, of where the road leads, of who can see rightly and who cannot. I am not asking to become blind, but I have become a believer. There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there."
So no matter what kinds of seasons I have walked through, I know it's valuable because I get to see the one I follow in a new light. Even though he is constant and never changes, he still looks different to me in different seasons. Maybe it's just that different facets of his character are highlighted. Finding rest has a different meaning to a high school student taking 5 AP classes vs. a mother of newborn twins. Grace has a different meaning to warring siblings vs. a murderer sentenced to life in prison. Love has a different meaning to a child who's been passed to different foster homes for 10 years vs. someone growing up in a caring, thoughtful family. Freedom has a different meaning to an 18-year-old graduating high school student vs. a Muslim born in the Middle East. I can guarantee Jesus is going to look different to different people, not because he is different but because their experiences give them a different view.
The decision I've made is to embrace the dark. To be thankful that God is honoring my prayers when I've asked to see him in a new way. I've asked to be put in situations where I need him to show up. And he shows up every time! He's never given me any reason to doubt his character or his goodness. And I know that this faith is a gift from him, and not something I could muster up myself. Just one last thing I read yesterday that has been such an encouragement to my heart and I hope it will be to those of you currently walking blind in a season...
"God puts out our lights to keep us safe, John says, because we are never more in danger of stumbling than when we think we know where we are going. When we can no longer see the path we are on, when we can no longer read the maps we have brought with us or sense anything in the dark that might tell us where we are, then and only then are we vulnerable to God's protection. This remains true even when we cannot discern God's presence. The only thing the dark night requires of us is to remain conscious. If we can stay with the moment in which God seems most absent, the night will do the rest."
So here I am in the dark. Trying to enjoy the fact that the Lord is doing things I can't see. Waiting and knowing that the in between times are when he is forming me and teaching me to trust him more. Lord, give me bold faith to walk forward not even being able to see one foot in front of me, but just following the sound of your voice that I know and trust so much.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still." - Exodus 14:14