On Pushing Back the Darkness

love If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re on social media of some sort. And assuming that, if your news feed isn’t chock full of the heated discussion of world events and the refugee crisis, I have to assume you either live in a commune or on Mars. Our world is in crisis and the opinions on how to handle it are many, highly varied, and are being expressed at length and very passionately.

This is not a post to add my own opinion to the millions out there. In fact, many articulate pieces have already been written that would encapsulate how I feel. Many enlightening perspectives have been shared, and I don't think my own is necessary, so this is not my take on the world's situation.

This post is actually much harder to write. It's about my own heart's situation. It’s a confession of the ugliness that’s been surfacing in me this past week as I have read and read until my eyes burn. It’s a cry for God’s mercy and it’s a call to all of us who follow Jesus to run to him right now. I’ve been reminded over and over again this week just how much I need him. I’m responding to Jesus’ call today to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” This is a post exposing the darkness in me, that is thankfully being revealed by the glorious light of God. I write it hoping that calling out my soul's struggle will encourage all of us to keep fighting the good fight—the one that’s not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities of darkness. As followers of Jesus, we must live in his presence, being continually transformed by his spirit into the image of Christ. God, do that holy work in me.

“The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

God, may your light shine into my own heart, and banish every trace of darkness.

Here are a few of the ways the darkness has been lurking in me lately:

Fear. Fear is a divisive and disgusting enemy. Perhaps that’s why God commands us “do not fear” hundreds of times in scripture. He knows we are weak and prone to fear, but he knows the damage it causes. And so he asks his children over and over again to “Be strong and courageous.” He tells us that “perfect love casts out all fear” so I must choose over and over again to love instead of fear. When I am tempted to be afraid, I will look into the face of love. I will stare deeply into the eyes of fire that are consumed with love for me and for the world. God, clothe me in love.

Reaction. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. The Spirit of God is never panicked. God is never quick to fly off the handle. When we spend our lives in communion with God, we find ourselves slower to speak, quicker to listen. But I’ve found myself reacting frequently this week. My reactions are a red flag that what I desperately need is time in God’s presence. When I am grounded in God, I am at peace, I am calm, and I am able to be patient. My inability to stay in this place is a glaring reminder that I must guard my heart. I must run over and over again to the secret place with God. My heart is vulnerable to it’s own panic, it’s own first instincts, which are never helpful. God, center me again in you. Clothe me in your spirit.

Anger. The uncomfortable, vulnerable truth is that while violence rages on the world, violence exists in my own heart. I see things, I read things, and my blood boils. God, forgive me. My own anger is a startling reminder of the desolate state of the human condition. The world is broken and the crack runs deep through my own heart. God, mend this violent, broken world, and start with me. Jesus, you ask me to love above all—to love the needy and the bleeding, the guilty and the unjustly imprisoned, the stranger and the family member, the pastor and the imam, the refugee and the president, the ISIS fighter and the American soldier. Teach me how. Fill me with your spirit so that my life becomes an arrow, pointing to your goodness and your love.

Father, forgive me. Heal my heart, God. Make me strong and courageous. Correct the selfish bent of my heart and guard it with your peace. And above all, fill me with love. May my life be lived in the place of communion with you. Only then can I carry the light. Only then can you use me to push back the darkness.