Word of the Week

When is the last time you took a walk outside of the city limits at night? Do you remember what you saw?

In my hemisphere of the world right now, the days are getting shorter and the night is coming sooner. It's now dark outside before I can sit down to eat dinner and I know it is there are many weeks to go of more of the same. (Makes me miss the carefree days of summer!)

Such is our word of the week dark: a space with light or no light.

I’m a city girl. But the last time I visited my mother-in-law's house in a rural part of my state, I can remember being in awe of the dark of the night. It was so dark, I could see the stars shinning through. It took my breath away to stop and behold the glory of the night sky of God’s creation.

That dark night opened up new possibilities for light that I would otherwise miss!

You see, when things are dark-- it's not that you don't see anything, you just see things differently.

Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark (one of my favorites by the way) writes this: “To be a human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things is to want half a life.”

This morning, I want to tell you that if you find your life without a lot of light, it's ok. It's ok if life feels more confusing than settled. It's ok if you feel anxious about some upcoming changes that will challenges you.

Don’t run from the discomfort of the dark. Stay there.

Darkness will bring you wholeness as you move through it. Your body, your mind, your soul has something to learn. Or as poet Mary Oliver has said, "Someone I love once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this was a gift too."

You might not see the full picture today. You might not see it tomorrow. You may want to swear at the heavens right now and say, "God, what are you doing with me?" but regardless of your discomfort, just keep going.

There is something you are learning now that you can only learn in the dark.



216617_10151479782722381_1721861107_nGandhi once said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world!"

And, truly, God bless the fixers in this world because there are so many big problems out there that need solving.

There are children who need to be feed-- if only someone will figure out the resources of how to get them food.

There are elderly who are literally dying to know that somebody cares about them-- if only someone could motivate those of us with extra time to be moved in their direction.

There are diseases in certain parts of the world that could be prevented-- if only someone could move better medical care in their direction.

But, what about those problems in the world which you and I have no control to fix even if we want to?

What about those problems that though we put all our might, all our effort, all our prayers toward, nothing seems to change?

What do we do then?

Such is a terrible plight for the best fixers among us.

It's terrible to want to "be the change" only to find yourself hitting wall after wall after wall of failed efforts.

I write this because I often try to be a fixer.  And I know the pain of delayed expectations. The pain of knowing that as much as I want to fix something for myself or for someone I care about-- I can't.

We all hate this hard truth of life: we're not in control.

As much as I want to, I can't make a job to come out of thin air for my unemployed friend.

I can't take way the cancer diagnoses for that 12-year-old girl who I adore!

I can't re-write laws in countries which are unjust, keeping essential resources away from the most vulnerable who need them the most.

I can't spark joy into the lives of my friends who are weighed down in a season of life of funeral after funeral.

I can't. And it's so frustrating!

But what I can do is be is right where I am. I can be right where my loved ones are. I can stand with them in the midst of our unknowing. I can sit with my grief and theirs too, if I'm invited.

And I can live with the discomfort-- not run from it.

Yet, it's so easy for a "fix it" mentality to set in, though. Before we know it, we're saying:

"Oh, let's find a 3rd opinion and a 4th for that timeline of death"

"Oh, let's send out twenty more resumes and re-write 20 more versions of your cover letter."

"Oh, let's fill up the days with appointments and evenings with parties-- all of my time should be filled!"

But, such I believe would not be the way of our God, our God who tenderly wants to welcome the brokenhearted into loving arms and say, "Peace be still."

For I believe that God calls us to live with our discomfort.

Not as punishment. Not as a fear producing exercise. But as an expression of our faith.

Because sometimes, the BEST things happen when we have no idea where we are or where we're going next. And as we give our pain time to move through us.

And I believe that God calls us to stand in the middle of discomfort and believe something good is coming.

One of my favorite scriptures comes from Exodus 14. Moses and the Israelites found themselves at a pretty desperate place too.

They'd only just left Egypt after 400 years of slavery and Pharoah was on their tail. Moses felt beside himself in worry with so much responsiblity on his shoulders. He could not see a way forward! And, he cries out to God for help.

And this is what he hears: "The Lord will fight for you; you only need to stand still."

Or in other words, "Live with the discomfort, Moses! And let Me be in charge."

So wherever you find yourself today, hear me preaching to me and preaching to you: help is always on the way! This trust is what faith is all about.