The Lord’s Favor
The Lord’s Favor – Reflections from a Season of Crisis
One of my favorite authors, Patrick Morley writes about the “Dark Night of the Soul”, which is to me, a season of crisis…one of unanswered questions. Many a time we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place; a place of solitude “filled” with a maddening quiet. These are the times like the early days of Samuel when “…the word of the Lord was (is) rare”.
What is a crisis? It could be many things, none of which are enjoyable. The Proverbs speak of trusting in the Lord and not of ourselves. Is this meant to curtail or even prevent such seasons? I don’t think so. Sometimes a season of crisis comes from our sin. Peter addressed a crowd of bewildered people in the first part of Acts after healing a crippled beggar to “repent that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”. If we put aside the obvious, and really try to flesh out that passage, why are we told to do that? More specifically, what does that have to do with a season of crisis? Sin and its consequences are a heavily emphasized theme throughout the Bible and specifically the old testament. For God’s chosen people Israel it was an endless cycle of trust – prosperity – peace then neglect – pain – suffering. As easy as it is to take an objective look at what an idol really was back then, it is somewhat harder to point them out today. Not that possessions such as cars, hobbies, toys or even our jobs are such idols in and of themselves, but rather our attitude toward such things.
Consider that the end of ourselves is an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to show us what we are missing – the void of pleasure, of happiness, of even the sweetness of fellowship and love. It is the absence of these things – which cannot be found in the world that open the door to a new understanding that we are in fact, human. We are tender. We are frail and empty. This message is certainly not the one that we want to hear and it is not the one that a secular humanistic world wants to even validate. Despite our endless endeavors for fame, to be well known, to be respected, to adorn ourselves with fashionable clothing, and to possess the physical characteristics of a tightly buffed body, we are simply and emphatically not enough for an unpredictable life. Yes, life is often more than we can handle. It slams us hard against the hairpin turns of a comical process we call aging. At other times, we are knocked to our knees with the changes that occur when children are born, when diseases are faced head on, and when life seems to fail.
I am convinced that when John commanded his readers in the very last verse of I John to “keep yourselves from idols” it was a command both of urgency and of concern. Most of us have seen the ravaging affects of some sort of dependency, of lives out of control…lived for something to stimulate that numbing feeling deep inside. We feel as if our spirits are chained inside a dark and damp room but no key can be found. We hear music and laughter all around us – or is it really what we think it is? I have heard so many analogies for the battle that goes on between our ears. Sometimes the “chessboard in our minds”, correctly classifies the life of inner struggle. At other times, we are left holding the charred remains of fragmented memories and expectations and dreams that have been long trampled in the dust. We merely exist. Breathing, aging, eating, sleeping, and somewhere in between we fight and claw for a gasp of humor or something to stimulate the numbness we feel. Truly, Jude was on to something when he said that spiritual death is a two-fold death.