The sun is out, and after weeks of rain, it is a pleasant feeling to look out into the upcoming year with a bit of sunshine lighting things up. It had seemed dark and dreary for so long with the news and weather cooperating, conspiring even, to bring hopelessness and darkness to everything around me that I was beginning to think 2016 would begin in that muck and mire. Now, with the sun shining brightly outside my window, I am aware of how much more I appreciate the glowing light when I have been denied its rays for weeks.
I like to kind of close out one year before I open the next. Honestly, 2015 wasn’t the greatest year. To me it seems the world went a bit crazy this past year. I look back over my blog titles and I see a lot of traumatic world events. I see much sorrow and suffering, from the refugee crisis to the cities who endured attacks of one kind or another. I see unexpected death within my own community of too many young people. But mixed in with the hard things were some light-hearted moments and joyous ones as well. My heart is glad for those. Because despite some pretty dire trends in the world around us, there is always hope and light if you look for it.
I am not sure what 2016 holds, but I find myself in a pessimistic place. I am holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. The other “there is no hope” shoe. I am trying to be optimistic, but with the election coming I know the division in our country will increase. With Isis continuing their plunder, violence will continue to happen and images will continue to flow onto our screens. People I know will die this year. If I focus on these thoughts I will quickly slide down into a pit from which escape will be difficult.
Yet, resounding in my spirit, I have heard a call to prayer. I believe it is a key to navigating this crazy life we live. Personally, if I could not communicate with God I would be at a loss. Prayer is my lifeline…a way to stabilize my thoughts. Rarely do I speak eloquently when I am in a hard place. I just pour out my heart and then listen to God’s heart. In this quiet place I am reminded of who is in control, and once my eyes are lifted, peace follows.
Corporately, I have sat in many prayer meetings over the course of my life, especially at the beginning of a new year. Meetings in which there was much prayer for our country. I have cried out for a revival that would reconcile us with God and with each other. Where love would take precedence over politics, and humility would bind us together in unity and care for one another. I have called for hearts to return home that have wandered far away. All prayers I have prayed with passion and a full heart in sincerity. I have cried out to God this past year for some relief from the pain of the world that feels as if it is spinning out of control. I guess I cry out louder when I think he isn’t listening.
In a conversation I had with him recently he assured me that he hears prayers and is answering them.
I said, “What? I beg your pardon? Darkness appears to be winning. I don’t understand what you mean when you say you are answering. It seems darker and more divided than ever.”
“Beloved, my ways are not your ways. Answer me this, where does revival come from?”
“Brokenness? I think.”
“Yes you are correct. And where does brokenness come from?”
“Yes. And in within pain is the seed of healing. For the seed to sprout it has to be broken open. So in the breaking is where revival lives. “
“So, you are saying God that in praying for revival I am actually praying for pain?”
“You cannot pray for safety and comfort at the same time you pray for revival…they are opposites. Revival comes from discomfort and exposure. Darkness exposed to the light. So hatred must be exposed. Division must be exposed. Hypocrisy must be exposed. The wickedness must be visible in ALL people on ALL sides before I can revive…because you cannot give up what you cannot see. You cannot be healed from a wound you do not know you carry. The sooner you see your own flaws, the sooner you can be healed. The sooner individuals seek my healing, the sooner the masses will be revived. Revival doesn’t begin out there somewhere…it begins in YOU.”
“Hmmm…not sure I like the sound of that.“
“No one does, Beloved. The darkness you see is prayers being answered. There is much evil in the hearts of men which must be exposed…by the light. Do not forget that last little part. There is light…always. There is hope…always. In the midst of the exposure of darkness humble yourself quickly, and then look for the light. And remember I will never leave you, or forsake you.”
So in 2016, I look for the light in the words of these foundational truths.
- If God is for us, who can be against us?
- The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
- I will never desert you. I will never leave or forsake you.
- In God put my trust and I shall not be afraid.
- The light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it.
- In him was life and that life was the light of the world.
- But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
- I will lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? From the maker of heaven and earth. He will keep your foot from stumbling; he who keeps you does not slumber or sleep.
- We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
- Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
- Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
- The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Once again I come to you at the beginning of a new year. I speak your words rather than my own. I lift my eyes to you. I stand strong and courageous, not with dismay and trembling because I know you are with me. I look to the stars to remember your great power and strength. I remember that if you are for me no one can be against me, and that because you are for me I need not fear what man can do to me. I thank you for your light that exposes darkness wherever it resides…even in me. I chose to humble myself quickly when you reveal areas of darkness that have blinded me to you. I thank you that you do not slumber or sleep and that you truly have all things under your authority. You breathe and our world turns. You laugh and the sun shines. Your heart breaks and you cry at the brokenness of your creation. Thank you for shining your light into the darkness. Thank you that even though the darkness seems huge, it cannot overcome your light. I thank you mostly for your life…that shines out into all the Earth. You truly are the light of the world…the whole world. Thank you that you do not leave us to our own devices. We would surely destroy one another. Give me your grace and your compassion to love as you love…and to speak on behalf of that love, which surpasses my understanding. You are my beloved, and I am yours. Continue to show me your heart…always your heart and how it beats…now and always, for me. Amen.