THE DARK PLACE
BY: JAN ANTONSSON
JUNE 29, 2013
AND GOD SAID,
LET THERE BE LIGHT
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8:12)
Some of you know that Lenny is having a rough time with his health right now. The details don’t matter because they are in God’s hands, but for me, it’s been a difficult time as well. I was wringing my hands before the Lord several weeks ago, because my fears were mounting about how I could care for him and what I should do, when the Lord spoke gently: “You’re heading toward the dark place.” I knew instantly what He meant. The dark place for me is always fear of what the future holds, and what are my responsibilities in the process. I learned to think this way in my birth family. Believe me when I tell you that so far as our family neurosis is concerned, the road to the “dark place” is well paved, and well traveled, with cushioned rest stops and refreshment stands along the way. I’ve been there so many times in my life that I can get there with my eyes closed.
Since the true desire of my heart is to never walk in fear, I have always prayed that God’s perfect love would cast out my fear, and He has never failed me. I KNOW that He is not out to kill us, but to grow us up into the image and likeness of Christ and to reveal His glory in us and through us.
When we were losing our house, our credit, and our financial base in 1996-1997, I remember saying, “Lord, I see that You are playing in our finances, and that’s OK, but PLEASE, don’t play in our bodies.” And He didn’t for a while, but now He is. However, my confession is the same today as it was then. He will get glory out of whatever it is He is doing in us. I KNOW it is God Himself who is behind all the seemingly bad things happening in our bodies, not the world, the flesh, nor the devil, and that goes a long way toward easing my anxiety.
When David caused the Israelites to be numbered and kindled God’s wrath against himself, God sent the prophet Gad to him to gave him 3 choices of punishment. They were: 1) three years famine in the land; 2) three months of fleeing from his enemies who pursued him; or 3) three days pestilence from the hand of God. David wisely said, “I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” (II Sam. 24:14) David knew what I learned when we lost our house, that God’s will prevails and He always brings good to us out of it.
Therefore, let me cast my fears into the well of God’s will to be swallowed up by His unconditional love. If I have to do that every minute of every day, leaving the fear behind will be glory for God and comfort for me.
There are many kinds of dark places, some sent by God to grow us, and some imposed upon us by our own agenda or imagination. Last Sunday night, the Discovery Channel showed the incredible live event of Nik Wallenda walking across the Grand Canyon on a two inch wire with no net and no harness. Last year, he walked across Niagara Falls, but they required him to have a harness or they wouldn’t permit him to do it. This time, he went with nothing but his own will, his own training, and of course, his faith in God.
I refused to watch the walk across Niagara Falls last year, but somehow, felt compelled to watch this event Sunday night, if for no other reason, to pray for this man. I can’t get my head around why human beings seem determined to stare death in the face, up close and personal, but they do it every day.
As soon as he took one step on the wire, Nik Wallenda began to praise Jesus and talk to God. It wasn’t something to please his pastor or his family, but clearly, God was his only lifeline, the wind beneath his wings. He had trained for this death defying event by walking a wire in hurricane force winds in his home in Sarasota, FL., but that was there, and this was over the Grand Canyon, some 1,500 feet in the air, walking a distance of 4 football fields (1,250 ft). The canyon sort of makes its own weather systems because of the depth, and the updrafts of hot air from the bottom hitting cooler air at the top. His tee shirt and jeans were clearly being whipped by the wind. The fear showed on his face at times.
His dad Terry was his safety expert and he constantly reassured Nik as he walked that this was something he could handle. I’ve included a link at the end of this piece showing a two minute snippet of the walk itself.
He made it across, and when he was only a few feet from the end, he ran the rest of the way and dropped down to kiss the ground when his feet hit solid earth. He loved on his wife and children who were weeping for joy and/or relief. Pastor Joel Osteen had come to pray with the family before the walk, and the camera focused on his face a few times during it. He was transfixed with some deep emotion, most likely terror, which is what I felt.
Things like this always give me heartburn, because clearly, a man was getting the glory for this never before performed stunt, but all the way across Nik praised God and gave Him the glory. Whether this young man’s motives were pure or selfish, are none of my business. His life and actions are God’s to redeem.
The next day after watching Nik’s Canyon crossing, I saw as never before why it is so difficult to convince many Christians that only God’s will prevails. They insist that man must, by his own will, choose good over evil, righteousness over disobedience, in order to be saved. The thinking there has always seemed to be, “Christ did His part in dying for you, but NOW, you must do your part.”
We are, after all, created in the image and likeness of our Father, who by His will alone created the Universe and everything in it. We are birthed by His love, cleansed by the fire which He is, and seated in heavenly places with Christ. It is not surprising that we think we can choose good over evil, and accomplish whatever we will ourselves to do or be. Nik Wallenda said before the walk, “If you see death, you will die. If you see life, you will live. I see LIFE at the end of my walk.” Those are words to make a self help guru giddy with delight, but they are limited by God’s will for our lives. He doesn’t text us asking for our request for the day and then use that as His marching orders. This is why we pray, “Thy will be done.”
Perhaps one of the darkest places we ever visit is guilt for past sins, leaving us unable to access God’s forgiveness, because we have never forgiven ourselves.
A friend wrote recently, “The point of it is, if we don’t forgive, then it is our sin…we keep it. And the law of sowing and reaping will have it’s effect on us. Gal. 6:7:”Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We usually think of forgiveness as something we owe others who have harmed us, but it came to me that it is easier by far to forgive someone else than it is to forgive ourselves. Why? Because we were raised on the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as though that would save us from ourselves. It is as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive others, because as our friend wrote, “When we do not forgive in this life, we will pass the guilt onto the next generation.”
Forgiving someone else or ourselves is an impossible task if we try it on our own strength, but when we cry out to God to take this burden from us and forgive through us, then we’re free, because that is why the New Covenant is so much superior than the old one. In the old one, it was the works of our hands which defined our relationship with God. In the one ratified by Christ’s precious blood, it is He living in us who continually and progressively remains our hope of glory and the means by which we live an overcoming life.
Father, we thank you for the dark places You lead us through, for without them, we couldn’t see the Light of our lives, which You are. We know that when we walk through the flames, cross over the floods, and make our bed in the presence of our enemies, You are with us. By Your rod and Your staff, you comfort and defend us. You are our Rock which cannot be moved, the source of all things, and You will supply all our needs through Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus our Lord. We praise and worship You now and forever. Amen.