The Shadow-lands

Wandering alone in the shadow-lands. That’s how I described life and ministry to a friend almost two years ago. Darkness seemed endless and (to be honest) my faith felt unstable. I was afraid of my weakness and overconfident in my abilities. (I had no idea what lay ahead. It was far worse than I could have anticipated.)

My friend did not respond to the plea of my aching soul as I hoped. In fact I initially despised his words. He said, “My first matter of prayer for you is that you will see God in the shadow-lands; that even without the good times, good feeling, and showers of blessings you will be satisfied with just Him, Himself … for however long God purposes to be the sole encouragement you have.”

I like chocolate. I like coffee. I like rich worship, family fun, and walking with my wife. I do not like pain…hurt…loneliness or suffering, at all! The words of my “friend” stung with the reality of my having to walk through the valley of the shadow.

My perspective for months was suffocating in grief and uncertainty. My friends perspective was that we, “would never choose to go (to the shadow-lands). But that is precisely why God wisely and lovingly superintends our paths to bring us there.”

The exhortation of my friend, was to seek and to see God in the darkness. His prayer was for my success, not my relief. Life during that entire season was extremely unsettling; which I discovered, was the point.

God does not need me, I need Him.

Are you currently in the shadow-lands? I urge you to spend some time with God here: Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Nahum 1:7; Exodus 14:13; Psalm 46:1-3; 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”

2 Corinthians 3:4-5

I am weak, but He is strong.


Christmas: Sorrow & Hope

christmas-candles-wallpaper-290x290Tis’ the season to be jolly, right? While the entire world seems to glitter in tinsel, some people will be sitting in caves of sorrow during the holidays. It’s easy to forget that grief does not take a vacation at Christmas.

Chances are someone you know has lost a loved one in the past year. This Christmas will be the first one since their death. Everything will be different. All the celebrations will actually prompt mourning. And the family gathering won’t quite be complete. It’s a challenge to muster up seasonal vibes when all you can think about or feel is the loss and grief from the past year or more.

The challenge? Make sure that we mourn with those who mourn – even during the holidays.

Stop for a moment and think of those who might feel as if they have less reason to rejoice than others. And when the Lord has brought them to mind, think about how you might remember, include, bless, or serve them in some way.

Remember, what began in a manger culminated in a cross where Jesus “destroy[ed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). One day God will put an end to all pain, suffering, loss and tears.

Our great hope is that Christ will come again, not as a helpless baby in a manger, but as a magnificent king on a throne! A king who will be close enough, and gentle enough, to wipe every tear from our eyes. He will personally put an end to everything that has brought his people pain. He will “raise the sons of earth” by transforming “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) to live with him forever on a gloriously renewed earth.