Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
– Psalm 139:7-12
I recently turned 26. I suppose it begins to happen more every year as I get older, but I found myself dwelling on these past 12 months. Sometimes all I see is a lot of darkness. There are a lot of things I’ve done, a lot of places I’ve gone. But there are many small things I haven’t done or followed through on, and many close places I haven’t gone, for one reason or another. The little things, the simple, seemingly insignificant things – planting the small seeds – are often the hardest for me to do.
I was in the Philippines from the end of April into the beginning of May. On the way home, I began thinking about this…
It’s not me [not my darkness]. It’s you [your light]. It’s your word, your promises, your faithfulness, your goodness, your kindness, your love, your ability, your character, your desires, your design, your doing. You make darkness as light, you build kingdoms from seeds. If all I see is darkness, light may still exist. If all I have is a simple, single seed, a kingdom may still be built. This darkness is as light to you; these seeds are as kingdoms for you.
For years, or years ago, I planted seeds. And the waiting seemed to be only for the purpose of just watching them die. But if seeds must truly die before they grow, maybe their life truly does begin in their death. I think its time to dream and live again. Time to do all the things I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to do. Time to stop making excuses for why I can’t. Time to own up to and admit the gifts, talents, abilities, life, and love I have to give. Time to step out from the background and it’s shadows into the light; in honesty, to lay hold of who I am with confidence and risk everything for what I truly desire. Somewhere there’s a person, a people, a world to reach; and someway, somehow, I have been given a voice to reach them.
Sometimes it’s as if I once shouted, and since, the echo has never ceased. But I can’t find my way back to where it came from. Something is broken; somewhere, I’m lost, I gave up. Maybe the only way to heal is to go back, to journey back into the darkness where he can mend the pieces and make me whole. But is it too late? Am I too far gone, too far away from that place? Is there any hope to be found behind me, any hope to be seen ahead? What if my darkest questions go unanswered?
Some nights I wake up to the moon. The birds are silent, and so is my soul. There is no voice to cut through the dark; morning comes slow.
But slowly I begin to see… He was there. He will be. And here He is.
When I finally see myself for who I am, I see he shines even brighter when next to me. When I finally see him for who he is, his light – his essence – covers all of me. I know I really look just like him, no matter how I’ve seen myself before. I am no longer afraid or ashamed, no longer needing to hide or pretend, because any darkness that was once present suddenly loses its strength, being overwhelmed by his light. All my darkness is as light to him. There’s none he has not pierced and scattered into now distant shadows.
“Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night…”
So, here I am. I’m over it – myself, my excuses, all the reasons I give to not do something, to not be someone. There is no one to blame but myself. The only one stopping me, is me. The only one stopping you, is you. We’re the ones holding the gun to our own heads. What causes us to fear, to shy away, to withhold ourselves from risk? I often wonder what I’m waiting for, what I’m running and hiding from. I think I fear myself the most – that this is all there will ever be, that this is who I’ll always be.
Sometimes we feel so small, overwhelmed by the size of the world, the extent of its need and brokenness – its darkness. We despair, “Who am I? What have I to give?” But what you see as darkness is not enough to keep you, or the world around you, from reach of his light.
“…Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
At times, he brings us into a place of darkness – a place where we are bare of our clothing of self-righteousness and good deeds and religious ideals; and not least, our long lost dreams of heroism – of “being someone.” A place where we are so vividly aware of our barrenness and our utter need for him. A place where we cry out to him, for him, again. Where we find a desperation for him and his presence that we had lost. For we searched high and low for a place, a way, to make ourselves known, instead of know him.
Lamentations 3 speaks beautifully to this condition. In my own words… The night causes our soul to remember, and to bow down within us. It is good for us to bear his burden; where there is grief, there his compassion will be even far greater, according to his abundant, limitless, boundless love and goodness towards us.