Someone somewhere has called it the 'dark night of the soul'. For me, in spots, it's been more a dark year of the soul -- though I think it really began last year when we moved here to Queensland from Western Australia. I've written before of how that very experience stripped from me the securities that I'd been unwittingly clinging to in place of faith. It caused me to turn more to God and to ask myself why my trust and confidence weren't finding their foundation in Him.
It only begins to make sense now, looking back, but essentially I attempted to replace one false sense of security with another. Instead of turning from the paltry, uneternal safeties (of community and financial ease and friendship) to the one enduring security of God Himself, I turned from those things to my experience of God. Not in so many words, of course. Are we always truly aware when we walk head-first into a mistake?
I didn't see it clearly at the time.
Sometimes I still don't, when I'm flurrying around in the quagmire of doubt. Instead, I see others' experiences of God, and how their experiences differ from mine. I see how I used to be, in relating to God, and how He 'once was' to me. I have wondered where the fresh revelations are, where the small everyday miracles have gone, why God sometimes seems silent, why I haven't felt His nearness. I have asked myself, "Am I no longer His?"
It's taken a long time to even begin to understand what God has been doing in all of this. I once was blind, but now I start to see: God is not what I experience of Him. God is, and whether I hear Him speak, see Him work, or feel Him near (did He ever say that we would feel Him near? I am not so sure), He still is. His character is unchanging, and His promises never grow old. This is a beautiful truth.
Because I have been guilty of this -- this viewing God through my experience and how I imagine it should be -- He has sent me back to the baby Scriptures, the ones we chant thoughtlessly in Sunday school or memorise quickly so we can get another sticker on our rewards chart, verses that remind me of who God is and what He has done. Verses like, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life. And, If you confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And with the re-statement of such old truths, has come a fresh understanding of their deeper meaning.
I grew up thinking that confessing Jesus as Lord meant simply saying, "Jesus is Lord", and believing it. Believing what? Just that He exists, and that He is God's son?
This year, in the seeming silence and in the reminders of such well-known but perhaps not understood truths, God has shown me how many times I deny Jesus as Lord. When I am worrying about the future, I am denying Jesus as Lord of the years to come. If I fret about money, I am denying Jesus as Lord over my needs. If I complain about some aspect of my appearance or personality, I am denying that Jesus was Lord over my creation. If he is truly Lord, he is not only the Lord of salvation: he is also Lord of the past, of the present, of the future, over my finances, over my love life, over who I am and what I will become. Jesus is Lord.
I am so glad that God, in His seeming silence, has instead been sending me that message, loud and clear.
Bethany -- even just a sentence here and there about God's goodness to you this year would still delight the rest of us, your eager readers! :)
Meaghan -- best comment ever!! That made my afternoon. I love you, too! xox