In the Midst of Darkness

Image result for Darkness

“…and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21)

“Often we foolishly wish that all our days would be bright and clear. Then when the clouds come we become discouraged and fearful. We fail to realize that the dark clouds of afflictions and trials are but God’s vehicles of blessings sent to soften and mellow our hearts and make them fruitful and useful for Him. Remember, God sees right through the thick clouds and watches and cares for His own. Trust Him and be of good cheer.”

(By Mrs. Charles E. Cowman in “Traveling Toward Sunrise”)

In the midst of darkness… not exactly a very easy place to be. In fact, it is a very hard place to be; but truly it is one of great blessing. I have found myself in this very place recently. Not knowing what lies before or what is even around me. All is dark. I cannot see my way. The night seems to cloud all visible understanding. The path ahead is unknown. And yet, I can still see and understand one very important truth. God is in the midst of our darkness. And His sweet presence makes all the difference.

“…The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” (II Chronicles 6:1)

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed: for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Praise Him. He has not left us alone to our own devices or counsel. He is there with us. He is a comfort. He cheers our hearts. We can know that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28)… because He is near. For He has promised:

“Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:9)

He hears. He answers. He understands. He cares. He is there…in the darkest of our days. You are not forgotten. Never forsaken!

“Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee….” (Isaiah 49:8)

In our own human understanding and reasoning…the idea of not knowing what lies ahead of us…not knowing the paths which we are to take that life so provides…is a very uncomfortable and insecure place to be. And in many ways, a very challenging place. We just want to know what is ahead…what the Lord is doing. What the future holds. To us, it may not even make any sense. But then, we do not see as Christ sees. We do not understand as He does. We are but men; He is God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8 and 9)

“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. “ (Isaiah 45:3)

What we would call uncomfortable, even, unreasonable… He calls “the treasures of darkness”. And why? Because we see Him; and ONLY Him. Because, in all reality, we really do not need to see anything else. He is enough.

“ We ought not to worry. God will take care of us. It is important only that we are His and obey and do our best. His ways may be ‘mysterious’, but be sure that with infinite wisdom and infinite goodness He plans for His own.” -Mrs. Charles. E. Cowman-

The darkness is not darkness to Him. He sees our need. He knows the paths we should take. And He chooses those paths that are the absolute best for us. He cannot lie. He cannot lead us in a wrong way. He has made no mistakes of which to ever regret or led in a way to which He has ever wished He had done something different. We can trust Him.

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? Or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:30-32)

All may yet be dark to our understanding, we may not know which way we are to turn or what it is we are to be doing, but be sure that God does. And He will lead His dear children accordingly, if only we would but quietly wait to hear His still small voice.

“ And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)

He will show us everything that we could ever possibly need to know…even down to the little details. We do not have to rush ahead of Him or make our own last minute decisions. He knows our needs, even more than we know them. And He will show us the ways in which we are to take just in time. He will make our path known and we will see it. His timing is perfect. There can be no doubt or fear, when God is speaking.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. (Psalm 119:105)

“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5 and 6)

“Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” (Psalm 128:1 and 2)

The Lord promises that… “happy shalt thou be”….”and it shall be well with thee. I wonder that we really believe this? Far too often, we somehow fool ourselves into thinking that God’s will for our lives will be only demanding and utterly miserable. That when we finally surrender ourselves to Christ, we have instantly thrown away all hopes of happiness and precious potential dreams. We may obey, simply to avoid “the consequences” of disobedience… but certainly not with a willing and grateful heart. How sad this is. How wrong a view of our God! Can we not see that the same loving Saviour who was so willing to lay down His very life for sinful men, is still the same gracious Saviour…who yet continues to give Himself for us all our days? How He desires to meet our deepest needs? Can we imagine that the same God who loved us with such an unselfish, sacrificial love…would suddenly stop? Can we see that He desires our best? That He wants only our highest possible good? He did not come to make robot slaves simply to bend to His unreasonable, demanding will. No, indeed He came to love the unlovable. To bless, so much more than we could ever deserve to be blessed! He delights “to give thee the desires of thine heart”. (Psalm 37:4) How do you see Him?

“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7: 7-11)

“If I truly believe in Him, I’ll trust Him to desire for me that which is for my highest good, and to have planned for it’s fulfillment.” -Helen Roseveare-

There can be no sweeter, better place than the center of God’s perfect will for your life. It is a place of blessing. Of perfect peace and rest. A place of unspeakable joy and happiness. If only we would allow HIM to lead us! How much better life would be! And to trust Him. That even though we do not understand His ways, though they be mysterious…that they are good, because HE is good.

One of the greatest blessings through times of darkness is that we have only Christ to depend upon. Our own counsel and understanding is removed. We are forced (in a matter of speaking) to rely only on the wisdom of God. And this is where He desires us. That He can be all. That He can show Himself strong on our behalf. That we can learn to trust Him. And that He might be glorified as our sufficient all knowing Saviour. Another great blessing that comes in our night season, is how Christ will grow and mold us that He might use us. To come away with a song in our hearts and lessons that will not be easily forgotten; but valued and treasured for the days yet to come. We do not know what an encouragement and help they might prove to be to others along life’s road.

“Some months ago, in the late autumn, the writer was in the hothouse of one of our florists. We were in the cellar, and in the dimly lighted place, one could see arranged in regular file, long rows of flower pots. The florist explained that in these pots had been planted the bulbs for their winter flowers. It was best for them that they be rooted in the dark. Not in the glaring sunlight, but in the subdued shadows, their life-giving roots were putting forth. They would be ready for the open day a little later. Then their gay colors would cheer many hearts. Then their sweet perfumes would laden the winter air. Rooted in the shadows to bloom in the light! Roots then roses.

(By Mrs. Charles E. Cowman in “Traveling Toward Sunrise”)

We want the sunshine! The bright days of ease and comfort! But, we cannot be used, unless we are willing to be broken. To be rooted in the dark that God could someday use us in the light. Have you ever noticed that stars can only be seen at night? Or that the beautiful sunrise can be enjoyed only because it was first dark? These are “the treasures of darkness”.

“I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight:” (Isaiah 45:2)

Although we may feel like a ship upon the night’s sea in the midst of a thick heavy fog… He is still leading and does only that which is best. We will not be dashed upon the rocks. He can make the crooked places straight again…and be sure that night will always fade into a glorious day!

“Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night, God leads His dear children along.

Some thro’ the waters, some thro’ the flood, some thro’ the fire, but all thro’ the blood;

Some thro’ great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.”

(“God Leads Us Along”- Written by G. A. Young)

“We can never stumble in the darkness if He leads us.” -J.R. Miller-

Advertisements

Jump

 

“And Jesus answered and said…Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things…” Luke 10:41

 

Why do we worry? Really though, ask yourself the question.

I know that I become anxious when I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure I do something in order for the necessities of life to be accomplished. Lately this has included my jobs, health and bills.

 

“Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much better are ye than the fowls?” Luke 12:24

 

Why worry then? Well…to be honest — because I feel like if I tried hard enough I could make it happen. Aren’t I responsible for these things?

 

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, then spin not…seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.” Luke 12:27-29

 

Not only am I not responsible to keep ends meeting, but I shouldn’t sit on the side line doubting His providence either. God points out in this same chapter that it is the World that worries and seeks after necessities, but my Father, who is a good Father, “knoweth that ye have need of these things.” (v.30)

 

It has become easy to leave Him with my desires and wants because He has proven Himself faithful in knowing what is best for me. But He asks the same abandonment in my needs. God is my Father, and a Father’s job is to provide. I am not meant to be a Provider. But guess who is? He is. I am to seek after Him and His kingdom and His will and He takes care of my needs. “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give…” (v.32).

 

He knows our need and He said He will provide. Why waste energy on worrying? Is God a liar? Did He promise providence so we might be fooled into starvation? I don’t think so.

 

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Timothy 6:8 

 

 It’s actually an exciting place to be.  I don’t need more than what He has already been providing. It isn’t an accident that I am in this place of need. Perhaps He is preparing me for a future time? To be here in full dependence on His providence is the same thrill someone gets who jumps off the cliff, knowing it’s all going to be okay because tied to his back is his parachute. I’ve chosen to jump – might as well do it without carefulness and trouble.

 

I once read a book title called “When You Fall: Dive”.  It made me smile.  You know, if I’m going, I’m going all the way. If I feel I can’t give up all of me, than it’s a clue that “me owns me”. That I haven’t trusted Him with me. Is my life so precious to me that I cannot give it away? Am I that capable of saving myself?  I’d rather jump with Him providing, than stay on the cliff’s edge hoping I can do it myself.

 

“Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have…” Hebrews 13:5

 

This verse convicted me. I try hard not to complain about foods I wish I could eat and the mundane foods I have to eat over and over, but I know that I do it anyway. Christ will have to guard my mouth and place a content spirit in my heart. Contentedness springs from thankfulness. And how I am to be thankful, why I can be thankful, is found in the rest of the verse – “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee not forsake thee.” (v.5)

 

I can be content with my weight, my singleness, my food, my health, my jobs, because He is the Provider. He is in control. He can manage my life, He can hold me up…all I have to do is jump. He won’t leave me.

 

 In the things I have no control in (like when I thought I might have lymphoma) I could cast it on Him because I had no other option of “fixing” it myself. I could not.  But the little things…this is where the enemy is concentrated. Satan is satisfied with a 1 degree turn in my attitude. And it isn’t just in attitude toward jobs, health, bills, but relationships as well.

 

Has it ever occurred to us that Jesus may have entrusted those hard relationships to us? Maybe it it someone that grates on our nerves, maybe someone who has wronged us (or a loved one) or maybe someone that is interested in us. Could Jesus have allowed them in our lives because He wants to teach them lessons through us?  Did He trust that He can reach those people through us? 

 

 Perhaps He chose you to be the instrument in which to love that person that grates on people’s nerves. Maybe He has picked you to be the one in which He can forgive that person who has wronged others. Maybe He has allowed that person to be attracted to you so they may learn purity of heart and giving up desires and distractions…and you are just the object lesson. Maybe you are the only “safe” young woman that He could use…He trusts that you will be a sister in Christ who cherishes that persons purity and will at all costs defend it. Even if it costs you the pleasure of being admired. Maybe He trusts you to defend their purity from your own fleshly desire. Maybe it isn’t about us after all.

 

Content with such things as we have. Jobs, health, bills, relationships. He is trustworthy. Here I am Lord…clutching You….honestly I’m a little scared, but determined not to doubt you…I close my eyes and am overwhelmed by the memories of your past faithfulness…I’ll jump.

 

Stuck Between Friendship and Matrimony

Image result for stuck between a rock and a hard place

Stuck Between Friendship and Matrimony 

So he is a friend. At least, he started out as a friend. But now it’s deeper than that. Or at least it feels that way. You really think he is the most amazing guy in the world, and you’re ready to say “I do”.

But there’s a slight problem: He hasn’t asked. You’re sure he enjoys you and you’re not like other girl friends of his. There’s something different about him and you, but nothing has been said. No pursuing has been initiated. Now what?

I know several young women in this situation. In one circumstance the couple have nothing standing in there way other than the guy simply hasn’t asked. In another situation the young man has made an attempt to “get to know” the young woman, but they are just “friends” because marriage isn’t really an option for her yet. How awkward is it to be stuck between friendship and marriage? Really awkward.

I just wanted to take the time to write a short post of encouragement to you if this speaks of your circumstance.

Firstly, you have no reason to feel ashamed of how you feel. Ignoring and denying your emotions won’t help; neither does feeling guilty about them. They are genuine emotions – accept that.

But with no commitment established you have no ties, no obligations and no entitlements to this man. He isn’t yours and you aren’t his. He is God’s child. You’re job is to allow God to guard your heart and to simply treat him as a friend and sister in Christ, just like you have been. You have no idea where this young man is at. Perhaps God has asked him to wait? Maybe his parents have asked him to wait? Maybe he is securing the means to get married? Your impatience will help no-one. You are expected to remain faithful in what God has set before you. And as long as He hasn’t asked you to pursue a mate, you can rest assured He is working in your behalf. If it’s any consolation, God moves far more quickly with patient surrendered children, than rash self-willed ones.

I’ve met several young women who have based their self-worth on how many young men have asked to start a relationship with them. For some women they have a lot to boost their ego. For others this is disastrous blow to their perceived worth. I want to encourage you that God has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). He is a master at the art of orchestrating your life. You are worth the shedding of His only begotten son. That means you’re priceless.

If the guy of your dreams isn’t moving forward, that may be a good sign that you aren’t meant to be married yet. It has no bearing on your worth and it has no indication of your capability to be a wife.

Diligently set your heart before your Creator. He knows. He understands. He is able to keep your heart and He will guide you. Moving beyond friendship with a young man is a serious thing. It can either be beautiful because it’s in His time, or it can be the worse mistake you’ll ever make in your life. Trust the godly authorities He has placed in your life. Run to the One who knows you best.

Marriage is a gift, not a goal. You haven’t failed just because you’re in your mid twenties (or older) and you haven’t “achieved” marriage status. Has it ever occurred to you that your singleness is a gift? That He expects you to use your singleness to give Him glory and to serve Him and His kingdom with? Have you been faithful in your singleness?

Life is a shining adventure. There’s no better way to squelch your joy and miss opportunities, than to wait for life to begin at marriage. Obviously if He has set before you marriage as an open door, take it courageously and confidently. But if you’re stuck between friendship and matrimony, be encouraged that your part is to simply obey God and charitably treat this young man as a sister in Christ. If you really love him, you will not seek and pursue in impatience. You will not vaunt yourself and make yourself obviously available. You will not hold your breath with little longsuffering. You aren’t waiting on him – you’re waiting on Him. In fact, love would wish the best for who it loves, even if this means, in the end, your desires aren’t granted.

You’re not stuck. You’re just in an amazing journey. Embrace it! He will guide you.

Trusting Jesus

Trusting Jesus all the way

While the dawn still breaks the day.

Heavy chains confining, what weary burdens I see,

Yet, such peace abiding, as I wait on Thee.

Trusting Jesus to keep me near

Casting away, all thoughts of fear.

Pressing towards that high calling in God,

Oh what blessedness! This path I trod.

Trusting Jesus to do His will

By His grace, each duty fulfill.

Obedient while Time still holds,

Watching His plans toward me unfold.

Trusting Jesus, my cares are lost

His desires with mine, no longer crossed.

Leaving behind, what others may see,

What Christ requires is who I will be.

Trusting Jesus, onward I go

Over high mountains and valleys low.

What evil befall me, whatever cross I bear,

His glory be praised, His power declare!

Trusting Jesus with all I hold dear

Believing His love, I’ve no reason to fear.

All I’ve lost, can only be counted gain,

And all I’ve gained, but loss, for His dear name.

Trusting Jesus to an expected end

Wherever He leads me, however He sends.

My soul asleep, my heart, awake!

Let me never, no never, my Jesus forsake!

Written by Lynea Bickish – Spring of 2015

Quote for Today

“Do not worry about the future.  It makes no sense to worry if God loves you and has taken care of you.  However, when God blesses you, remember to keep your eyes on Him and not the blessing.  Enjoy your blessing day by day just as the Israelites enjoyed their manna, but do not try to store the blessings for the future.  There are two peculiar characteristics of pure faith.  It sees God behind all the blessings and imperfect works which tend to conceal Him, and it holds the soul in a state of continued suspense.  Faith seems to keep us constantly up in the air, never quite certain of what is going to happen in the future; never quite able to touch a foot to solid ground.  But faith is willing to let God act with the most perfect freedom, knowing that we belong to Him and are to be concerned only about being faithful in that which he has given us to do for the moment.  This moment by moment dependence this dark unseeing peacefulness of the soul under the utter uncertainty of the future, is a true martyrdom which takes place silently and without any stir.  It is God’s way of bringing a slow death to self.  And the end comes so imperceptibly that it is often almost as much hidden from the sufferer himself, as from those who don’t even know he suffers.

Sometimes in this life of faith God will remove His blessings from you.  But remember that He knows how and when to replace them, wither through the ministry of others or by Himself…

Eat then your daily bread without worrying about tomorrow… The same God who feeds you today is the very God who will feed you tomorrow.  God will see to it that manna falls again from Heaven in the midst of the desert, before His children lack any good thing.”  Fenelon, Let Go, p.28

A Quote for Today

“We are ready to praise when all shines fair; but when life is overcast, when all things seem to be against us, when we are in fear for some cherished happiness, or in the depths of sorrow, or in the solitude of life which has no visible support, or in a season of sickness, and with the shadow of death approaching,- then to praise God; then to say, This fear, loneliness, affliction, pain, and trembling awe are as sure tokens of love, as life, health, joy, and the gifts of home: ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away’; on either side it is He, and all is love alike; ‘blessed be the name of the Lord,’- this is true sacrifice of praise. What can come amiss to a soul which is so in accord with God? What can make so much as one jarring tone in all its harmony? In all the changes of this fitful life, it ever dwells in praise.”

(H.E. Manning, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p.130)

A Quote for Today

“Beware of letting your care degenerate into anxiety and unrest; tossed as you are amid the winds and waves of sundry troubles, keep your eyes fixed on the Lord, and say, ‘Oh, my God, I look to Thee alone; be Thou my guide, my pilot’; and then be comforted. When the shore is gained, who will heed the toil and the storm? And we shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God. If at times we are somewhat stunned by the tempest, never fear; let us take breath, and go on afresh. Do not be disconcerted by the fits of vexation and uneasiness which are sometimes produced by the multiplicity of your domestic worries. No indeed, dearest child, all these are but opportunities of strengthening yourself in the loving, forbearing graces which our dear Lord sets before us.”

(St. Francis De Sales, Daily Strength for Daily Needs p. 175)