I have learnt to love the darkness of sorrow; There you see the brightness of His face. Madame Guyon
In Climbing The Heights, Theodore Cuyler wrote,
When we reach heaven, we may discover that the richest and deepest and most profitable experience we had in the world were those which we shrank back with dread. The bitter cups we tried to push away contained the medicines we most needed. The hardest lessons that we learn are those which teach us the most and best fit us for service here and glory hereafter. It is the easiest thing in the world to obey God when He commands us to do what we like, and to trust Him when the path is all sunshine. The real victory of faith is to trust God in the dark and through the dark.
Today, approaching my seventieth birthday, I can tell you with full confidence that I have learned to be very careful what I pray for.
In the past, when I was much younger in the faith, I would glibly rattle off prayers that “sounded” so noble, not realizing the full import of exactly what I was asking God for.
For instance, when I was on staff at a large church in Kirkland, Washington, and I dreamed of doing “great things” for God. I thought I knew exactly how my prayers and dreams should be answered, and therefore, accomplished.
Ah, but God had dreams, too.
God did answer my prayers
God took me at my word.
He led me straight to dark and barren places.
I cried, “Why, God?”
I didn’t understand then, that instead of delivering me from, God was taking me through…
Through, ten long years caring for an emotionally broken Mother. Five years of caring for my Father dying slowly of cancer. The deaths of both parents, and two close friends. The loss of home, jobs, friends, church, and finally an illness that left me unable to work, drive, in fact most days, barely able to cross a room without hanging on to the walls.
Are you wondering why?
I sure did!
I wondered, “Was I being punished for something? Hadn’t I played by all the rules? Hadn’t I done everything God had asked of me? Hadn’t I prayed enough, believed enough, been through, enough?”
In the early days I thought so.
I didn’t understand in those first frightening years what God was after. I had a plan, you see. I wanted to encourage, comfort, and help heal broken hearts, but I hadn’t realized how ill equipped I was to carry that dream forward.
Ah, but God had taken me at my word!
God had agreed with all my dreams and prayers, and to prove it to me, He had led me through as much “hell and high water” as He knew I could take.
He did it to teach me about just how much He loved me, and that His love wasn’t based on how well I performed as a “good person,” or “Christian believer.”
He wanted to set me free from all that junk. So, he buried me in a wilderness for fifteen dark and silent years. His goal was not to deliver me from the suffering in my life, but to turn me myself, into a deliverer.
When all my strength was gone…
God alone came to teach me:
- About a God who will never forsake me.
- A God who had awesome plans for me.
- A God who loves me just because I’m here…
- And, just because I’m me.
When I didn’t even have the strength to walk across a room, God’s tender love carried me.
He revealed how He was going to take all my pain and tears, all my bitter mistakes, and turn them into sweet dreams and shining rainbows–not just for me–but for others.
Talk about amazing grace!
I had wanted to write about dreams and dreamers; one of my favorite subjects!
But, that writing project just kept wandering in circles.
It makes me smile today to remember all my frustration back then. You see, I was still in process. God was still adding colors to my rainbows; still creating and transforming my dreams, in me.
Maybe that dream project will get off the launching pad someday, but looking back, to where I’ve come from? I’m so glad God’s plans and timing were better. Dreams are good, but I’m glad God wanted me to talk about His faithful love and wondrous hope, before I talked about dreams and rainbows.
Rebuilding broken faith
You see, you can’t help those with broken faith to believe in dreams and rainbows, until you help them believe that God’s great love for them is unchangeable, and unshakable.
It is the foundation all our dreams are built upon.
It has to be that way, because sometimes dreams die, and all rainbows will eventually fade. (You already know that.) But no matter how dark things might look, God’s love never changes. It’s very real. It’s always there–in light, or darkness; in good times and in the bad.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:37-39 KJV
He really does choose the foolish things, you know? The Bible says quite clearly that He does. He also chooses darkness, abandonment, heartbreak, and barren emotional deserts. These, too, are all tools in His hands. All so necessary, if we are to ever be of comfort to another’s broken heart, and help to rebuild another’s broken faith.
So, what about you?
Have “the lights” gone out in your life?
Are you walking through some dark and barren crisis of your own?
I’ve come through a lot of dark years today just to remind you again, that this place you’re in now, isn’t your final destination or your destiny.
I wonder what God might be creating in you with those dark circumstances of yours?
What colors of grace might God and you paint for another’s broken faith?
- A song?
- A book?
- A class?
- Or, simply a gentle and understanding heart to reach out to another?
God loves you!
Yes, He does. And He’s making something beautiful out of you.
He’s got plans, wonderful plans, and He will use everything you’re going through now, for your good, and for His glory.
What will God and you do with all that He is investing in you?