Light Beyond the Darkness

As the days begin to shorten and I realize the seasons are about to change again, I grow more reflective of the seasons of life. I am sure it is because I am getting older. Age has a tendency to make us more aware of our limitations, weaknesses and failed plans. But it also has the capacity to make us more aware of what is really important and help us to focus on our blessings rather than our difficulties.

sunset over the river

As we were driving this evening the sun was getting low on the horizon. Though I didn't see it actually set I could tell, it was going to be spectacular. The sky was streaked with brushstrokes of cloud residue. So often when that happens the sun reflects off the clouds in a brilliant display of orange, pink, red and purple. I have found in my 50 plus years fall sunsets can be some of the most stunning.

As I looked at the beauty the Master Painter created for our good pleasure, I thought about the sunsets of life. Sometimes, when we know the darkness is coming we grow anxious and fearful. The realization hit me, however, that we would not have the stunning sunsets if darkness did not come. We would not have some of the spectacular sunrises either. Darkness is a part of the cycle God put into place to bring rest and repose.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky displays his handiwork.
2 Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.
3 There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its voice literally heard.
4 Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
its words carry to the distant horizon.
In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun.
— Psalm 19:1 - 4 (NET)

Darkness is the absence of light. That could refer to the light of day, the light of a candle or that of an electric light bulb. Darkness can also refer to a lack of understanding. There are times in life when, not only does the way seem dark, but we also travel the path without understanding. We need to remember that outside of the darkness there is light. 

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
— John 12:46 (NASB)

If you are in a house, board up all the windows and cover those with room darkening drapes, you will be in the dark, but the light is still glowing outside of your house. If you descend into a cave with no flashlight or matches and candle, you will be in the dark, but the light is still glowing up on the surface.

To me, what seems the most overwhelming about darkness is the absence of light. If I can't see the light, I feel as though I am suffocating and all of life is about to end. But the reality is, light is still glowing, I just have to remember that. When I come to terms with the fact that I am closer to seeing the sun set, than I am to seeing the sun rise and I can remember that just the other side of that darkness I am about to face there is light....perhaps it will go easier.

Pixabay

Pixabay

When God's face seems hidden by the darkness or by the clouds, remember that Jesus is walking on the tops of those clouds. When the path seems dark, perhaps is it best to stop walking for a while, stop fumbling in the dark. Take a deep breath, sit a spell and remember He is the light.

Jesus said of Himself, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 - NASB)

Confessions of a Clutter-holic

I had one of those things happen today, that just made me crazy with frustration. I used to be a very organized person when I was younger. But let's face it, it is easy to be more organized when you are only taking care of yourself. But then, I got married, had a few kids, decided to homeschool, worked a part time job and so on. Life happened and when it did, I usually found myself stuffing things into drawers, just to have them out of the way when company came. Now I find that I am still trying to recover from all the stashing and accumulating that we did throughout the last 29 years of marriage and raising kids. 

Pixabay (This is not my house - ha, ha)

Pixabay (This is not my house - ha, ha)

"Hi! My name is Amy and I am a recovering clutter-holic." Sure, it is a made up word, but you get the idea. Please tell me I am not alone! I have a feeling in our world of storage units and large houses with basements and attics, that we probably all have more stuff than we let on. Then throw in words like sentimental, obsessive compulsive and hoarding and we end up with hills that my husband and I affectionately call, "garbage mountains" outside of every major US city.

After looking through seven boxes, yes seven, I still could not find what I was looking for. I sat down at the kitchen table and said, "Okay, God! You know exactly where that thing is that I put away so carefully so I wouldn't lose it. Can you help me find it?" I'll let you know if He does, or if He finds my lack of self-discipline amusing. In reality, it did get me thinking about how thankful I am that God is more organized than me. I am thankful:

Pixabay

Pixabay

That God, created our planet with just the right angle, spin and rotation around the sun that we have days, nights and seasons. (Genesis 1:14-19)

That God, created our bodies with the amazing capacity to move, breath, circulate blood, fight off disease and even heal themselves. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Pixabay

Pixabay

That God, created us with a brain that can create music, poetry and art, the same brain that can learn to perform surgery, design buildings and make a 300 ton airplane lift into the sky.

That God, had a plan from the foundation of the world to save us from our sinful nature. (Isaiah 53)

That God, sent His only Son, Jesus, to be born, live, die on a cross and rise again after three days. (Read any gospel in the New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke or John)

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull.

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

That God, sent the comforter, in the person of the Holy Spirit, so we could become more like Christ by His power, not our own and bring glory to Him. (John 16:5-15)

And I am so glad that I do not stand condemned because I am washed in His precious blood. (Romans 8:1)

Pixabay

Pixabay

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That even though I come up short and often make a cluttered mess of life, You still love me and you never lose sight of me. You are the good shepherd and You always know where every one of Your lambs are. 

What is the Point of Easter?

We live in a day and age where sin is no longer called sin. We classify, categorize and explain it away; or we don't talk about it. It doesn't matter how we define it, what God called sin from the beginning of time is, in fact, still skipping around on planet earth, just like those dust bunnies lurking under your fridge. Sure you can sweep them away; suck them up in your Hoover, but before you know it they will be back, breeding and growing.

Easter Eggs

I mean, what is the point of Easter? Colored eggs? Candy? A new dress? All those things are great, especially in the context of family, but that is not what Easter is about. Easter is about Jesus. Christmas is about Jesus. One is about life and the other about the death that leads to life. Without Jesus there would be no Easter. So what was that all about? The blood sacrifice, demanded by God, paid for by His only Son....It was because of sin. There! I said it! It was because of disobedience. Jesus died and rose again because of anger, rebellion, pride, gluttony, murder, rape, gossip, addiction, adultery, bullying, incest and a plethora of others.

So today, in this month, when we think about, ponder and celebrate Easter, ask yourself, "Why?" I'm celebrating because I believe in a God who is so good, not only did He love me in my most pitiful, dark and sinful state, but He provided a way out of it.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 - NESV)

Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Exclusivity? Absolutely. Show me a belief system that is not is some way exclusive. But in Christianity we are not able to cross the gap that came about because of sin and it separates us from God. Only Jesus can do that. That is what Easter is all about.

Respite

Today was an unusually warm February day here in the midwest. The sun was shining, a warm breeze blowing and it honestly felt like spring. I decided to get some much needed light therapy and go for a walk. The sun touched my face and it felt like God caressing my cheek. As I walked I thought how beautiful it was, yet I could tell that it was still winter. It was as though creation had taken a deep breath and held it, for a little while. The weather forecast shows that "mother nature" will be letting out her breath tomorrow and chilly temps and clouds will return.

The Psalmist penned these words in Psalms 19:1-2, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." Walking around my neighborhood, I could see the drab signs of winter in the brown plants and grass and the leafless trees stretching their branches heavenward. But I found myself thankful, even though I knew tomorrow would bring the reality that we were still a month away from Spring. I thanked God for the respite.

Life get's hard. In his book Our Ultimate Refuge: Job and the Problem of Suffering (also known by Baffled to Fight Better), Oswald Chambers says, "The basis of things is not reasonable, but wild and tragic..." Satan is not going to let this world go without a fight and many of us struggle with battle fatigue. We often feel like soldiers on the front, with nothing to eat, no cigarettes and very little ammunition. Just when we think we can't take it any more, something happens. Yes, once in a while, not only are they shooting at you, but they decide to send in the mortars as well.

But God knows! God is good. God Cares, for by the very definition of the word good, He has to care. So once in a while He gives us a respite. It might come in the form of a call from a friend, a card of encouragement in the mail, a silly joke that made you actually laugh, or a restful night's sleep. Or, for me, it was two days of sunny delight in an otherwise long winter.

Beth Moore often refers to these times as "God sightings." Ann Voskamp calls it "eucharisteo" in her book One Thousand Gifts, but whatever term you want to use, there are moments, sometimes very brief, when God tells that roaring lion to, "Stand back!" I love that picture. Not only does it remind me that God is always watching, but it tells me who is really in control.