It’s been a dark season for me.
I honestly didn’t pay attention to how dangerously depleted I had become until I was so tired recently, I took a mid-morning nap. Things tend to pile up. Administering a large organization is always a challenge especially with regards to the people and important relationships that are dependent on clear communication that sometimes doesn’t get done in a proper way or in a timely manner. Officiating funerals is part of my job. Walking alongside a family before, during and after a loss can bring the very best of us to the forefront. It is a true act of faith to believe in the promises of eternity, especially with a broken hearted family grieving the loss of an infant. Christmas decorating is one of my favorite things to do. But, it got sandwiched in-between meetings, bible studies, setting up for a large event and Sunday morning worship. So, the joy of preparing our campuses for Christmas was lost in the demands of a busy schedule.
Our basement flooded. We discovered our sump pump failed on the night our area experienced torrential downpours. We’ve dealt with flooded basements before. I get overwhelmed by the devastation water can do. Old memories of traumatic childhood experiences saturated my mind. The clean up after a flood is totally demoralizing for me. It’s such a total loss. Since we had so much previous experience, we were better prepared and not much was lost. An old area rug I purchased years ago when I lived in Tulsa needed to be thrown away. That was symbolic. The rug was the last thing I had from the influential days accepting God’s call in my life. And for the past week or so, we’ve been helping our cat Sam die a natural death at home. Sam was part of our family for 20 years. We found him at a Shell gas station as a tiny kitten. He never knew anyone else as his family. He was part of our every day routine as much as a partner in keeping life stable. There are too many memories for me to recount here. I will tell you that he died yesterday and today it feels like there is a hole in my heart.
I know how to recover after a dark season. I couldn’t last in ministry as long as I have without learning how to accept these dark times as seasons properly placed along my life's timeline. Not all weeks or months are like this. Sometimes, I thank God for knowing there is a beginning, middle and an end to all things. I am incredibly grateful to God this season is over. I feel like I finished this season. It’s winter and time to rest. Spring is on the horizon.
The dark season lasted so long for Israel. Four hundred years of darkness. No consolation from God. No glimmer of hope to redeem their relationship. Prophets had come and gone. God’s voice remained silent. There was so much loss, devastation and hurt. Disappointment left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. There was no indication how long the darkness would last. So, the people took matters into their own hands. They rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. But, like rebuilding a house or relationships after a divorce, something was missing. It wasn’t the same.
Scripture became the place where Israel could remember. The promises of God were often read aloud during worship services. God gave his word. He would restore and to redeem that which was lost.
Imagine hearing this: Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations. (Isaiah 9:1) The promise of better days and in Galilee! Hope that God had not abandoned Israel could restore the faint of heart and replenish the soul sickness darkness had fostered.
So what do we look for and what are the signs?
Let God know you mean business and that you’re serious about what’s next. Look for the Light. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.(Isaiah 9:2) Maybe you’re living in the land of deep darkness and things have been hard. For some of you, things have been hard for a long season. God’s Word is true. His promises will be fulfilled. The Light has already come into the world. But, it also needs to come into your world. Look for the signs, move toward them and don’t turn back. Prepare. Trust Him. He will follow through. These words weren’t just for Israel. Allow the prophesy to be for you. Insert your name where there is a word us:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)