The Colder the Night Is, the Closer the Heavens Are.

I live in a world where people are experiencing harm and hurt at every turn. Devastating circumstances, frightening realities, self-destruction, chaos... this is the world we live in. And in the middle of it am I—nestled never-precariously in the arms of God, never having been touched by some the darkness that some people face, currently held safely away from the black-hole battle for life and hope that some people are fighting every day of their lives. I have been wrapped in a cocoon of tender mercies as I have changed and grown; ever sheltered, ever… safe.

And yet, I feel always a connection to the hopelessness. Trudging through these shadowlands, I am not alone, and every day is a journey of encountering souls. Some of them are beaming beacons of light, drawing my gaze ever forward to eternity and Jesus. These friends are truly treasures of God, and they bless me beyond imagining. And though they are touched by the shadow, as am I, as we walk through these fleeting lands together, we walk in the light of Christ that shines through one another.

Still other souls are broken, fighting the shadow for their very lives. They, too, are treasures of God… beautifully, beautifully broken, their value immeasurable though they feel worthless because of the cracks and stains. The darkness of this place is a sword, and they struggle every day for the strength to hold up the shield that is the Hope of God. And each time I come to walk beside them, my heart breaks a little bit more—for I, too, am a broken being. It is painful and terrifying and miserable, walking through such darkness; and the breaking, it hurts. I have seen it, and I ache for them.

I am ever touched by shadow. It is my own frailty and weakness, my humanity and constant failing to be like Jesus; it is the hurt of this walk in the dark, ever waiting and longing to be swept away from this world of sorrow and pain forever. And it is the shadow of others, their struggles and pain as we step closer to eternity together. Yet there is one thing immeasurably more constant than the shadows; and as the darkness fades in the face of eternity, the One Thing only grows brighter. It is Him, and everything that He is. He is Love, He is Wonderful, He is Goodness Itself, and He is more present in these shadowlands than the shadows themselves.

It is the journey of a lifetime, this walk through the shadowlands. But it is not of eternity. And when the shadows finally fade, and we have made it past the final frontier, our weary feet will be done with wandering, and we will be swept up in the everlasting embrace of Love Himself.

Until then,

We bear the light of the Son of Man,
So there’s nothing left to fear.
And I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands,
Til the shadows disappear.

- Andrew Peterson, “Dancing in the Minefields”

1 missives:

Jenny said...

I feel this too. All my life I have been comfortably sheltered from the world - and from people, too. And part of that is nothing to be ashamed of. But a few years ago, after joining TLC, a whole new world of People with all their hopes and joys and sorrows and despairs opened up to me, and my heart began brushing up against people I couldn't reach with my hand, and suddenly I began to learn what it was like to yearn after another soul far away, to struggle with them, to stand in the shadow with them and clench my hands and be able only to pray and assure them of my prayers.

But there isn't just shadow. There is light too. Paul says we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the glory might not be ours, but God's. We have light, we have strength, we can stand in him in these shadowlands. And each little bit of breaking is part of the long pain of being born: squeezed out of this world into the world to come. It hurts. Oh goodness, it hurts, and some people hurt more than others, and the rest of us can only stand by and hold on while it hurts. But we know that our Redeemer lives, and he ever lives in us.

And the shadows, they willdisappear.