Darkness Defeated

  
I used to be absolutely terrified of the dark. As a child, I suffered though nightmares and anxiety and phobias, all associated with darkness. I even dreaded going to sleep at night because of my fears.

Eventually, I overcame those fears through the normal process of growing up. That and I would cram every stuffed animal I owned in the bed with me when I went to bed at night.

Lately it occurred to me that if a single candle can dispel all the darkness in any given room, then darkness is revealed to be powerless and impotent.

Jesus stated that He is the light of the world. He has already overcome darkness and everything associated with it. In fact, He has already overcome anything we could ever possibly be afraid of.

That’s a very comforting notion in a world where anxieties run rampant and fear rules the major part of the lives of the majority. In fact, both the news and social media are driven by fear.

Fear has no place in God’s economy. Perfect love casts out fear. The more one truly knows and understands how much he or she is loved, the less place there is for fear, because love and fear cannot co-exist within the same human heart. One displaces the other.

The ultimate destiny of darkness is defeat. There is no scenario where darkness ultimately overcomes the light. The only way darkness wins at all is in the absolute absence of light. The only way evil wins in this world is when good stays silent and hidden.

The final victory of light over dark is found in heaven where there is no need of sun or moon or stars, because Jesus is the light there. There is no more night or darkness or shadows because there is no place where the light is not present.

Here, we are the light of the world. May we not only find deliverance from our own anxieties about darkness but be instrumental in helping others overcome as well.

 

 

A Couple of Good Reminders for the Upcoming Week

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“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself”  (Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place). 

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.” (Corrie ten Boom).

Why I Love Old Abraham

“By faith Abraham heard God’s call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God’s call would take him. By faith he journeyed to the land of the promise as a foreigner; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, his fellow heirs to the promise because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God.

By faith Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. So from this man, who was almost at death’s door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore” (Hebrews 11:8-12).

“That’s what Scripture means when it says, ‘Abraham entrusted himself to God, and God credited him with righteousness.’ And living a faithful life earned Abraham the title of ‘God’s friend'” (James 2:23, The Voice).

I like Abraham. I can relate to Abraham.

Sure, he was the father of many nations. Sure, he’s the one through whose line came the Messiah, the Hope of the World.

But he also had clay feet at times.

Remember the time when he lied about his wife, saying she was his sister? Twice?

Remember when he tried to help God out by agreeing to go to bed with Sarah’s servant Hagar to produce the heir God promised?

Remember when Abraham had a hard time believing that God could keep His word in giving him a child?

Yeah, I can relate to all of that. Abraham’s my kind of guy.

The Bible is full of people like that. Not saints in the sense of people who walked through life with halos hanging over their heads who never messed up or got a hair out of place or got their knickers in a bunch. More like saints who stumbled and fell often, but kept getting back up, kept trusting in the next step, kept trusting that God knew where he was leading them through all the deserts and foreign countries.

Sometimes faith is simply showing up and taking the next step, trusting that God knows where He’s leading you. As Corrie Ten Boom said, faith is trusting the conductor of the train when it goes into a pitch black tunnel instead of jumping off the back of the caboose.

I suppose we’re all thankful that even faith the size of a mustard seed can move  mountains and uproot trees. It can change stubborn old hearts like yours and mine.

Best of all, faith leads you to the place where God is, where you were always meant to be, the place where your heart can rest.

 

Absolutely Positively Definitely Maybe

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“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens” (Romans 8:18-21, The Message).

Such a great moment in the movie. I’ve actually owned Definitely, Maybe for a while and just now got around to watching it (one of the few perks of being without a job).

I love that line because it reminds me so much of God and the Story He is writing. And I do so love stories, especially when they’re well-told and have happy endings.

I know that ultimately God’s Story is about God, as it should be, but one of the very happy side effects is you and me finding redemption and freedom and abundant life. Because of God’s Story, you and I have a Story that we get to share. Because of God’s Story, we know that our Story will always have a happy ending because God has written it already. I read the last page of the book and I know that it’s good.

It’s hard to remember that when the Story seems headed for tragedy or when the current chapter seems like it will never end and circumstances will never change or get better. It’s hard to see that happy ending when you’re wondering how you’ll pay the bills or make your struggling marriage work or find that job that makes you come alive.

As I’ve learned in reading books, you don’t put down the book when the characters run into hard times. You keep going with the hope that those struggles will lead to something better. As Corrie Ten Boom says, you don’t jump off the train when it goes through a dark tunnel. You trust the Engineer to get you through.

I don’t want to be that guy who says things like, “Hold on, it will get better” or “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or discouragement, bumper sticker quotes don’t really do the trick.

You need to know that God is still faithful to His promises. You need to know that the same Jesus who conquered death and the grave can conquer your circumstances. You need to know that He will finish what He started in you because He said He would.

That’s a happy ending.

 

Back to Your Future

I’ve always been intrigued by time travel. I’ve always been a sucker for movies like The Time Machine (the first one, not the remake) and Back to the Future (all three). Even the remote possibility of going back or forward in time is exciting.

If you could go back, what would you change? What mistakes would you avoid? What brave, courageous thing would you do? What would you tell your younger self?

I have a novel idea. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one single solitary thing.

Sure, my life isn’t what I thought it would be. I’m not even close to married and my job status sure isn’t what I thought it would be when I was daydreaming back in the olden days. My bank account is missing a few zeros, too.

But I’m rich where it counts. I’m blessed in all the ways that really matter.

I have family who has stuck with me. I have friends who actually like me and have yet to bail on me, despite some extremely dumb and dorky moments on my part.

The reason I still believe that God is real is because I have seen Him lived out in the people around me. I’ve had so many show me Jesus and what He can do in someone’s life if given even the smallest chance to work.

I don’t know what the next few days or weeks look like, but I know God does. I am trusting my unknown future to a known God (to borrow one of Corrie ten Boom’s most famous quotes).

I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know it won’t be alone. I’ll have my brothers and sisters with me. All of them, including the ones who may not share my DNA, but call on the same God as Father.

My future’s looking bright. And I want to do everything in my power to help you realize yours.

May we all find God to be more than faithful, more than able, and more than enough, no matter what comes next. Amen.

The Ticket

Sometimes you are reading along in a good book and something jumps out of the text and you have to stop and re-read it at least two or three more times. That’s the way it was for me reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

She was talking about being fearful of persecution or death. Her father described it like a child with a train ticket.

The father doesn’t give the child the ticket months and months ahead, because the child might misplace it or accidentally tear it up. The father waits until they are ready to board the train until he gives the ticket to the child.

In the same way, we find that we are given grace to handle adversity not way before, but just as we are about to face it.

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they would say when facing hostile persecution. He promised that at just the right time, the Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak. Time after time, the disciples were able to speak out with a boldness that could only come from the indwelling power of the resurrected Christ.

Are you worried about the passing of a loved one? Are you fearful of your own death? Are you anxious about how you would handle persecution and if you would deny Christ and live rather than die professing His name?

Just trust Him for today and let tomorrow take care of itself. Pray for strength for the day and whenever death or trouble or trials come, you will find that God gives you what you need to stand up in it.

You find that your world didn’t end like you thought it would and you will hear words coming out of your mouth that only Jesus could put there. You will find strength in the exact moment you need it, usually not a moment before.

I love this quote from The Hiding Place about how each of us will face Jesus when we die:

“Dear Jesus, thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all . . .on the cross, and that all we need in life or death is be sure of this.”