Our walks throughout our neighborhood usually (depending on the route) require walking uphill for most of the first mile and a half. At the top of the climb I pause and look out toward the ocean. Sometimes the marine layer lies waiting just off the coastline, hovering out over the Pacific Ocean. When the marine layer comes in the early evening it brings the cool air and blocks out the evening sunlight. It’s a bit like pulling down a shutter to block out the sunset.
There are times when the marine layer comes like bits of fluff torn from a pillow, disguised as clouds. The pieces eventually join together and form a great, gray mass dulling the light. This misty May gray quietly moves off shore before I have taken my last sip of coffee in the morning. It is a bit unusual for May to be so sunny in southern California. Usually the morning feels sluggish as if the sun had overslept. But it hasn’t, it never does. The sun climbs high above the cool, gray warming the air and pushing the marine layer back and out over the water until it looks like a great gray wall floating over the ocean.
Things aren’t always as they seem, are they? Though I may not see the sun until late morning, it rose above the marine layer hours before. Nothing is as it seems. Even when we move through life with great certainty we are in control, we are not. God is in control. Things don’t always go as planned. God’s plans are good and perfect, and we stand in the midst of it all without seeing – like the sun behind the gray. But we must hold onto hope – hope in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst of confusion and in the midst of a darkness blocking the SON. Keep looking up; He is always there.
Some days the light seems snuffed out. But His light is never overcome by the darkness. In the Gospel of John chapter 1:4-5 we are told, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The Light of Christ always shines in the darkness. We may not recognize His light. We may not see how any of this can be under His control. We have doubts but His plans “stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:1).
We may wonder how God will manage the insanity of this world and how things will come right in the end. But remember Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. (Oh, do go back to John 16 and read all those things He told them.) In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It may seem everything has gone all wrong but remember things aren’t what they appear to be. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” It will all come out right in the end. We have not been forgotten and His Kingdom will not be shaken.
I choose to believe the Word of God. Are you with me? How much more life-giving is His truth than the words of man. I choose to keep turning my face back towards His when I get side tracked. The darkness cannot overcome the Light no matter how dark it seems. And those who believe in Jesus are always in the Light even when surrounded by darkness. Hold onto hope!
“I know. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. They meant something. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something. That there's some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.” – J. R. Tolkien
I am writing today to encourage you to fight for the good. You and I have a choice. You and I can choose not to despair, be angry, bitter or to fear. Of course, we’re human and we all become afraid now and then when we forget Who is really in control. I encourage you resist giving your energy to the confusion, the fear, the darkness, the hopelessness. This is just a rumbling, it’s a reminder that things aren’t what they seem. God has a plan and He claims victory over the end of the story. We don’t know the outcome of our current troubles but we do know the end of the story. Pray, absolutely. Pray for the lost to be found. Pray for courage and reorient your thoughts toward the Light.
In her book Begin Again, Leanna Tankersley writes these words, “Luckily, our image-bearing soul cannot be crushed in the same way other parts of us can. It can’t be wrecked—by us or by others. It’s that part of us that God ‘created . . . godlike, reflecting God’s nature,’ so pain only serves to wake it up, if we will allow ourselves to awaken to the discomfort instead of dulling it.
“We are allowed to escape. We are given the freedom. But those who have sat in the discomfort and listened and waited know that an even deeper freedom awaits those who will discern an ending instead of devise an escape.
“Escapes are almost never in our best interest (unless we’re talking about a burning building or an abusive relationship). Endings are about surrender. Escapes are about control. Discernment is belabored and holy work. Devising is a quick-fix territory.”
You and I have a choice. Whether or not we believe the sun is above the dark clouds doesn’t change the fact that the sun still shines. And whether or not we believe God’s got this; He does and He has even given us a hopeful ending. Hold onto hope and fight for the good.
In the words of Dallas Willard, “The gospel means that this universe is a perfectly safe place for you to be. It means that the soul is simply not at risk. Not even from cancer (or pandemic, etc). What else could Paul have meant when he said nothing can separate us from the love of God? Why else would Jesus have advised us not to worry?”