Been in somewhat of a valley recently. The timing seemed to coincide with the shortening of days and long nights of cold darkness. I have never experienced seasonal depression but I can understand how the lack of light can affect a person’s outlook. We have also had more dreary overcast days than I remember from past winters.
I have gone through a year of testing in the area of doubt and unbelief, delving into the depths myself seeking to understand what spark generates faith and what extinguishes it. I did not lose my faith, but at times felt like I was holding it in my hand, like the stone in this blog header, examining it from the outside – yet not letting go.
For many years in my past Christian walk I have read so many faith-building stories of the people of God in terribly hard circumstances – each of them called to be a channel for His love and truth. I have read of Divine revelations, visions, miracles, and impossible conversions, by human reasoning. I have traveled a long road in seeking people that walk this road of the REALITY of Christ rather than theories, and who hold to His precepts – not compromising them with allegiances to worldly agendas. I have found no such “place” in my journey to date, but I have found a few shining stars. People who hold fast and rise above the confines of the structure of “religion”, participating in its outer structures or not, truly touch the Life of Christ and walk in it. Not on some super-power plane, as we are all very human, but in a path of true Faith and Love.
Two of these friends have walked with me daily through so many trials in the last few years that it brings tears to my eyes right now to even write about them. They are my spiritual family and my “church”. They are a gift to me from the Spirit like no other I’ve ever had in my life. We are called to believe all that our Lord has said, even in the face of all opposition, but I believe that He did not intend for us to walk the road of faith alone. Even if we experience isolation, we still have the knowledge and memories of others who walked with us, or He will bring others into our path at the time of need. The unity of the Family in God in the essence of His Spirit – not our finite understandings of Him – is just that. Family. It’s not a theory, a philosophy, or a dogma. It’s a fellowship of Love.
It can be difficult as the world cheapens everything that is connected to Christ – either in the way the Church itself presents Him, the world mocks him, and the skeptics scorn. It’s far more effective to convince people Christianity is a myth than to try and stamp it out by force. This past year I have felt overwhelmed that in my own country, I don’t know how to overcome the false image people have received of Him. It’s almost like they have been inoculated with a killed version of truth, and are now immune to the genuine. I know the Spirit of God can overcome even this, but to my natural mind, it looks hopeless.
I understand what the scriptures say about the foolishness of the gospel. To follow Christ in this age, as in any before, we must stand to ridicule and opposition. I would encourage every believer to know WHY they believe what they claim. Many atheists have given it much more thought than the average Christian. But I find that most people will simply find a way to believe what appeals to them. They are not willing to test either direction, for or against. We can immerse ourselves in one side of an argument and never dig into the evidence for the the side we want to reject. Some people may think this is dangerous to explore outside the confines of your faith. But I have not seen people deceived by true, honest investigation. I have seen many people led away by an obsessive hunger for that which follows a deviant path – without being willing to ask, “Is this true?” I respect honest searching, even if the conclusion is different from my own. But I have found so few people who have truly done this. I know the Truth stands on its own and does not need my protection.
As I am going through a dark time, gravitating as Peter did, to be overcome by the waves and storm rather than the Master walking on the water, calling out to me to follow – I had an amazing gift this morning. It may seem silly to some – but when God gives you a sign, your heart sees it. When I opened my eyes from sleep, a blinding light was shining in my eyes. As I put on my glasses I realized that the sun was reflecting off the windows of a house quite a distance behind us. We have a very large back yard and a creek runs in a culvert between our house and the next neighborhood. The light was shining through the blinds in our room, which are usually closed down tight – but raised last night a little to do something with the window. They didn’t get lowered back all the way. I’ve never seen this reflection at any time in the three years we have lived in this house. I had to take a picture and thank Jesus for His light, and a Christmas morning light to encourage me when I really need to be reminded how dark-dispelling His light truly is.
But this isn’t all.
A few nights ago I was out for a drive which I sometimes do in order to have some time alone when I’m really distraught. My emotions were swinging between grief and rage over a situation. Sometimes you feel that you cannot keep walking the same path, yet leaving it would cause even more pain. This circumstance is directly related to faith and unbelief, but I cannot say more. As I made my way back home, driving through an affluent neighborhood, I saw a junk pile on a curb. I can’t resist these no matter what my state of mind. In fact, I find it therapeutic the way some people might find shopping at the mall running up their credit card debt. I pulled over and tried to see in the dark. Among some interesting finds, I saw a medium-sized white box which had something encased in Styrofoam, but I could not tell what it was. Curiosity prompted me to take it home just to find out. I discovered a fairly large snow-globe with a nativity scene in it. It has a music box, and when I put batteries in it, discovered that the manger lights up. Yes, this might be a pretty cheesy Christmas decoration, one that I never would have actually purchased. They say timing is everything, and it’s the thought that counts. The best Gift of Light we have received continues to reassure us, guide us, and comfort.
Merry Christmas to my true Family in Christ. May His light shine brightly on you.