Sunday, July 20, 2014

learning to die {the painfully precious process}

The morning sun is breaking the sky open outside my window.
Indigo clouds drift slowly behind the trees, outlined with light.

Night is over.
Day has come.
We move from darkness to light...every day.

I love how creation reveals life like a work of art.

Each evening the sun goes into hiding and we are left in the dark.
All kinds of modern inventions give us artificial light through the night, but there are power outages and sometimes you can't find a match and...well...we can't really be guaranteed light until the morning comes again.
Dawn comes creeping in slowly on it's own...independent of us.  And what starts as a few clouds reflecting brightness becomes an entire world lit up and alive.

In art and literature darkness often represents death.  Light is life.

The dark and the light...
The death and the life...
They are all part of this journey...these days that unfold before us.
There is no sense avoiding either one.

As a child I was terrified of the dark.  I slept with a night light as long as it was socially acceptable and then as a teenager I just left the overhead light on and my mom would turn it off on her way to bed.  Even as a young adult I feared being alone at night.
Too many things could go wrong in the dark...
where I couldn't see...
where I felt defenseless.

Now I know the night is necessary.
If I let it...it will give me rest.
And so I've learned to trust that God rules the night just as he rules the day.
I am no more in control of what I can see than what I can't see. 
I am always defenseless on my own, but I have a Defender.

Lately I have had these dreams that there is impending danger around me but it's dark and I can't see.  I rush through the house feeling my way along the walls to the light switches but every one I flip offers no light.  I can't find a single one that is working.  At first I feel frantic and afraid but eventually I stop the rushing around realizing that it's dangerous to run in the dark...and so I wait for the light.
Morning always comes.

Sometimes life gives us days - and even months - of night...of darkness.
We rush from one thing to another - relationships, alcohol, drugs, food, self-help books, exotic vacations, expensive cars - searching for the switch that will turn the light back on but none of them work...and we usually trip and fall and get hurt in the process.  The only way to get through the dark of night is to lay down and let go.
There are all kinds of things we need to lay down...all kinds of things we need to let go of.
What are they for you?
Once we do, the rest comes...the peace comes...as we wait...for morning.

There is a time when our lives are full of light and life and we take up our shields and our swords and we go out in the big world to fight valiantly for the things that we believe in.  Then there are other times when we feel tired and alone and the darkness covers us and parts of ourself begin to die away and all we can do is lay down...let the dying happen...let the darkness pass over.
Audrey Assad sings these words...
     Bind up these broken bones.
     Mercy bend and breathe me back to life.
     But not before you show me how to die.
It's one of the most beautifully poetic songs I've ever heard about the richness of dark and dying times...it's why I've learned not to avoid them or detour around them or sprint through them as fast as I can.  They are necessary.

Jesus spent 3 days dead in a grave before he rose and offered eternal life to us all.
Death before life.
Paul spent 3 days in the dark, without sight, before he took the light of the world all over the world.
Darkness before light.

I'm learning that there is much death that must take place in my own life - my own heart - to make room for the Spirit of God to birth something new and better inside of me.  It is a painfully precious process that I am committed to...this thing we call sanctification.
This refinement of our souls.
This setting apart for a greater purpose.
This commitment to grow in divine grace.
This getting comfortable in the dark.
This learning to die before we can have true life.

This erasing of ourselves so that we might disappear into a deeper beauty...

...less of me...more of Him.

1 comment:

Sabra Penley said...

Elizabeth, this is absolutely beautiful. I can totally relate to being afraid of the dark and to wanting to be in control and to recognizing the need to let go. I don't love the dark now, but I do appreciate how it makes me run to the Lord. For in him alone is the light.