November 7, 2016

Through the Dark

"I brought The Message Bible!" Barbara singsongs as she flits down to sit cross-legged on the floor of small group one Sunday. Through out the afternoon of baring hearts, becoming friends, praying for and with one another, we also read verses from the study, occasionally exploring what some might call a paraphrased Bible has to say about the topic of our identities in Christ. (I have called this a paraphrased Bible and stuck my nose up at this edition. But am now eating humble pie.)
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Friday morning. Too excited to sleep the night before, I wake up to have three full hours to get work done before going into work. A fantastic new day job that I am loving. I watch the sunrise illuminate the trees outside the living room window, typing away, checking messages, and find that Danielle has sent me this article from The Thought Catalog: 27 Beautiful Bible Verses for Every Woman.
The 4th one is simply, this:
I have loved you at your darkest. Romans 5:8
So I go online to search if my assumption is correct that this verse is from The Message Bible. I think of Barbara. I smile at both that new friendship, the renewing of a 16 year one with Danielle, and keep looking.
It's not The Message Bible version. This is, and a truth bomb hits my warm, fuzzy still-waking-up heart processing what exactly "I have loved you at your darkest" means.


My darkest, to God, was not what I consider my darkest.
What comes to mind when you think of your darkest times?
Our darkest to our most loving Heavenly Father was when we did not know Him. Just look at the verses above. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready.
Um, okay, ouch? 
I don't know about you but this Type A, perfectionist work in progress over here hates not being prepared. And tries to out-plan a lot. So much so that paralyzing fear and self doubt sweeps in with too-strong common sense and a slippery whisper of, "Why bother? Don't be unrealistic."
Yet if only I cultivated faith merely the size of a mustard seed.
And yet, He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready.
He has bridged the Great Divide and made a way for us to approach His throne with confidence, not fear, not with self-sufficient pride that keeps us to our own devices before we fall on our face and realize our need.
Confidence. And humility.
But what happens when, after we come to know Him, life kicks us down in a major way? We are not promised anywhere in Scripture an easy life--if anything we're warned that A: it's a temporary home and B: we will have trials of all kinds.
So our darkest to God was when we did not know Him.
But what about the times in our life that were so dark our hearts almost broke? Or were broke. Or pain was real and throbbing and exhausting day in and day out, whether physical, heart, or both. When our faith that God was good, all the time--a phrase perhaps you grew up with--was crumbling?
What happens when we have no strength to walk and approach His throne of grace?
He reaches down. Touches us. Pierces through the dark. He sees us. Never, ever judges us or tell us to get up and get moving and count our blessings.
He loves us through the dark.
Because His love ran red, and our sins washed white for all time--He pursues us. Even when our hearts are weighted down in darkness.
He is jealous for us. His love is to be the defining, hope-filled life's blood getting us through our days. He is as near as breathing. Yet how often do we forget? Trust me I'm speaking from experience.
He has loved us at our darkest. Our most rebellious. Before we chose and turned to Him and began walking with Him.
And He loves us still.
Through the dark. The pain. Nothing is too big, or too small, for us to trust into His hands. It may take time for the light to shine through. It may take time for your trust to grow again after being so severely tested.
And He can take that too. He can take you through the dark. All the angry railing, the silence, the tears of "Why can't I just forget and move on once and for all?"
He is the one to move us on. To lend us perspective. But His grace means that there is no timeline for grieving, for processing--for standing back up again, fully, after being knocked on our rear ends. For recovering from life's blows.
He can take it all.
He has loved us at our darkest.