A candle in the darkness
There is a contemporary Gospel song from many years ago called Heaven in the Real World. In the middle of that song Steven Curtis Chapman sings, To stand in the pouring rain and believe the sun is gonna shine again, to know that the grave is not the end. To feel the embrace of grace and cross the line where real life begins, and know in your heart you’ve found the missing part.
For some time now I have been looking for the sun to shine again, and keep shining. There are always glimpses in our lives when we see the rays of the sun for brief moments, but so often the clouds come back, and darkness returns.
That is a battle I have been fighting for a couple of years now, and often it takes away the words that I have to say here in this place. Over the last couple of months, we have received calls here at the paper office from readers wanting to know what happened to me. Some even surmised that I must have left, some even supposed that I must have died.
In fact, I didn’t leave nor did I leave this world, there were just no words for me to say through the clouds. Without inspiration, or purpose, or leading from on high, to put words here in the place would be pointless, just ramblings to fill the void.
There are so many in our area that I know feel the same way. I read their words on social media and I talk to them out on the street and I hear the void in their words. There is so much pain in the world. So many grieve what once was, those who were once here, lives lost too soon. I get that.
It was not until very recently that, by the grace of God, there began to be an opening in the clouds for me. It is my most honest wish that I could go to each of you who are hurting and hug you, try to ease the pain, and share what it is that brought me a little more sunlight. It is no magic cure, no silver bullet to kill the demons, but simply a notion. Living in the darkness and holding on to the pain seems so hard, but holding onto it becomes like a warm blanket, I found myself finding comfort in my grief, not wanting to let go of it because it was there that I had become accustomed to being. Taking the blanket off and coming out of it has proven to be much harder.
I went out to a sharp curve on a dusty, gravel road out near the river some time ago. It is the scene of one of the worst days in our recent history. It was there on that lonely curve in a road that three lives were taken from us, taken far too soon from the arms of their families and those that loved them. A lot has been done since that horrible night to remember those three young ladies. There have been memorials, thousands of words, and there will be scholarships in their name handed out at graduation. Their memories and lives will live on in our hearts.
For those families, there is still grieving, how could there not be. For the families of so many that have lost loved ones in recent days, those clouds are thick. The clouds will always be there, lingering, ready to come in and make a good day turn to rain. I think that must be how grief works. We can fight it, we can be like robots and go through the motions. We can even determine that we have grieved long enough and decide to turn the corner, but those clouds are just waiting.
On those days, when I choose to throw off those blankets of warm grief, it is because I choose rather to believe, like the words of the song, the sun is going to shine again. Our redeemer lives, and we all need to feel the embrace of grace.
In a sermon I heard this past Sunday, the Lord showed me that the blanket of grief is not where He wants us to live. He put something in all of us. You can call it a purpose, a calling, a mission in life, but regardless of what we call it, He put it there because the world needs it. The people we most care about need to see us doing what it is we are here for, they need to see us happy, they need to see us living our purpose. In my case, I have children and grandchildren that need to see me being what He put me here to be. The same goes for every one of you still holding onto that blanket. There are people watching you, watching to see something in you to help them through their day, or see a life they can model their life after. We can’t do that wrapped in the blanket. We have to find that missing part and return to our mission.
That part really isn’t missing, it’s inside of me, and inside of you. We just have to let it out, grab it with all our might, and use it to shine so bright that no clouds can get in the way.
And here is the key I think. No matter how long you have buried that light, no matter how deeply you have dug the hole to bury it or tried to forget it, it is still there. No matter how hard life has tried to beat it out of you, and no matter how many people have told you that it was never there, it is, it was, and it wants to shine again.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.