There comes a point when praising ends and Papa says, “enough!” People honour God with their lips but their hearts are still steeped in lies and truths half-lived. Fear of the dark keeps us living in a lie that all is good and well; “Peace! Peace!” when there is no peace.
This madness keeps us hidden from the very things that can set us free. A reframing of our past to shine a light on a new possibility and a fresh future freed from the shackles of shame.
Do you honestly think that the All-Seeing turns his eyes from the pits we have dug? Does He really shy from the conversations that expose our dark side and dredge up the worst of who we are? Psalm 139 tells me no.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;”
Ok, I’m good with this. I know the place of His presence way behind the veils of religion and obligation. The sweet place of Sonship in the arms of a Father, and His fiery, furious love that blows every other experience or pursuit out of the water.
But is it only here that He leads?
Bedtime in Hell
How about all the times I…
“…make my bed in hell.”
Those places in my soul that still sleep in stories of another man – a dead man on the cross of Calvary, that foolish, fearful, frightened fellow holding tight to his comforts and excuses? He’s dead and bleeding, stuffed into Jesus his substitute.
But I know him, I’m way too comfortable with his scent. He doesn’t challenge me to become more than I am. He doesn’t challenge me when I fall short. He doesn’t point out the vast gulf between my words and my way. Nailed there with the Savior but refusing to go in the hole and stand up renewed.
Why do I stay here and refuse to go beyond?
I just don’t want to change!
There’s no other way around it. I want to grow to my comfort zone and go no further.
The Stinking Carcass of Saying But Not Doing
That’s why I climb in bed and snuggle up with what Paul calls, “this body of death” (Romans 7:24). The same guy James refers to as a stinking carcass of saying but not doing.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26 KJV)
Empty professions without any life – dead fruitness religion whose pulse ceased to beat long ago. The stench gets worse every year and I continue to wrap it up in more and more reasons why things are not working the way they should.
But the answers to these dilemmas won’t be found in the highlands. The light I seek is not discovered in a sermon.
Wake Up In Hell & Smell the Coffee
I have to wake up in hell and smell the coffee.
I have to face my darkness and begin to declare a different direction. And when I do, I realise the One who led me here is not the devil. Hell is reserved for that sucker in future days. Right now he lives to convince others to stay asleep here. To keep their eyes and ears closed to the possibility of a new way of living.
When I kick the corpse from the bed and quit pretending…
“…behold, You (the God I never expected to find in my fury and my mess) are there.”
He’s here. In hell. In the darkness. In the lies and the fabrications. In the deceptions, and the excuses and the fears and freakouts. He is here in fire swinging his sword to slay the dragons that guard my bed!
Deeper Into Darkness
You don’t go deep without encountering darkness.
You don’t emerge as the man you need to be without facing the man you think you are.
Deep and raging seas of restless emotion await. Dark valleys filled with vile realities beckon. Sloughs of depression and disappointment must be dredged, and Vanity Fair, with its hall of mirrors displaying all the foolish faces I wear for the world, has to be set on fire.
It’s deep and treacherous. Few choose to go this way. It’s narrow and borders on insanity.
But in that place of rage and reality, He leads us.
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.
Let the seas rage I say. Let the mountains fall. I am held. I am whole.
And when the darkness is beyond description, when the fears fall like boulders threatening to crush me under their relentless weight, when I say in desperation…
“Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Here at the point of no return, where His presence has led me to the precipice and is poised to push me off the cliff…
“Even the night shall be light about me;”
Pushed to the edge and beyond, watching myself fall into the abyss.
Destined to die. Made to be slain.
This one I’ve carried like a dead weight for decades.
Here in the darkness, alive to God’s presence and leading, no longer hiding my inconsistencies, no longer wrapping my stench and wearing my masks, there is a new reality waiting for the weary warrior.
“Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
The Light being, Jesus; the King of my heart, life, and future; blazes like a thousand suns and reminds me that even my darkness is light in His presence.
I have nothing to fear.
Nothing to hide.
No darkness not eclipsed by His countenance.
I have nowhere to go but forward.
Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash