Do not ‘speak’ into the darkness, ‘Scream’ that Anthem

“Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still, I’m waiting for the dawn”

If you live the human experience long enough, you are going to find struggle.  You are going to find disappointment and you are going to experience loss, heartbreak, heartache and perceived failures.  And while you sit with these realities in the darkness and silence, then the voices start.  You know, the really accusing condemning ones.  They sound like this:

  • You’re not good enough
  • You’ll never make it
  • Everyone else is better
  • It works out for other people
  • This has no meaning
  • You’re not worthy of goodness
  • No one cares
  • You screwed up
  • You’ll never figure it out
  • blah blah blah insert negative judgmental piece of crap lies from the pit of hell here

These dark nights of the soul are like a bully on the playground, the lies want to suck the life out of you and put you in your place of insignificance.  It is there where the fight for truth is held, it is there in the middle of the battlefield of your life where you sit and make choices.  With the enemy creeping in on all sides, in the words of Mary Oliver; “tell me, what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I’m just a guy going through my own journeys and battles, waking up to voices that seek to keep me in my own place of darkness.  Here’s my advice:  Do not ‘speak’ into that darkness . . . ‘SCREAM’ that #$%^ing Anthem!  The stakes are too high for quiet whispers, this is YOUR life, this is your one, wild and precious life!  This is you, there is no one else like you, there never has been and there never will be. By definition you are a bad @$$.  Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart . . . ”  Before all of Creation, before God placed you in a human family to have a human and earthly experience, He knew you.  He has plans.  You are not an accident, you matter, you have a name, you are significant.  You are worth screaming for.  Do not whisper, do not speak, Scream your Anthem!  Call your dawn into existence.  

11 years ago this month, I lost 2 of my best friends within 17 days of each other.  This U2 album was really significant to me then, it helped bring context to the pain and loss I was feeling.  That the darkness was okay, it has it’s place.  The night is temporary, next comes the dawn.  The sun will rise, survive the night.  Confront the lies, obliterate them with truth.  Grab your soul friend, sit them down, and them let tell you who you are if you don’t remember.  Strangle the lies, don’t let them breathe.  Choke the poison and spill it out.  Do not whisper, do not speak, Scream your Anthem!

What is your Anthem?  It is hope,  You were destined to count in ways no one else can.  Dallas Willard said: “As water is meant to run downhill, so you were destined to count.”  Rage your hope, scream your hope, call your dawn into existence.  Hope is a primal scream in a world of darkness, let it rip!  You matter, you are here for a reason, survive the night . . . dawn will come.  And when dawn comes, walk into the light of the justice of your cause, the warm embrace of the sun, the arms of the One who made you and let him bring healing and freedom to your heart and life.  When healing comes, when you become a prisoner set free . . . seek vengeance.  Go find someone else in their dark night of the soul, and lead them to the light.  This is your payback.  You are dangerous.

Do not whisper, do not speak, SCREAM your Anthem!

Peace to you.

Ruthless Trust

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God

I shared in my last post about the gift of being in this unemployed place of uncertainty and vulnerability.  There is certainly a lot to learn and enjoy in it.  But I’m not going to sugar-coat that it’s always what my perspective or attitude is.  Other times it can just be really hard and unsettling.  I’m not unlike you, I want to be in control of my surroundings, my future and my options.  But I am in a season presently in life where all of what I used to rely upon as security is no longer secure.  My wife and I are holding tight to simple and core truths about who we are, who our God is and that the future is secure in him and his provision over us.  We are challenged and cross-pressured to believe in things we can’t see and not lose hope. We are not the first people to find ourselves here, it’s just our story today.

I lost some faith this week, I got discouraged.  Met with our accountant last week to do our 2016 taxes for us personally and the businesses we are trying to get off the ground.  I had the figures stare back at me on paper like a bully on the playground.  How little income I had in 2016 and how much of our personal investment I put in the coffee business that is 100% loss at the moment (of course most businesses lose $ in their first couple years).  All my identity of being a provider for my family for 23 years was being challenged.  The accusing voices started of what a failure I must be, how much I’ve let everyone down and the helplessness of not being able to correct the ship immediately.   Defeated, discouraged, disappointed . . . what do we with these emotions?  Where do we take these lies that bounce around in our head and seek to intimidate us into total surrender?

Today I went for a walk in the woods to listen.  I spent several hours walking and sitting.  I listened, I listened to the babbling brook, I listened to the waving branches of the trees over me, I listened to the cracking of broken sticks under my boots, I listened to the hawks overhead and I listened for the voice of the One who made me and marks my days.  I started out somewhat lost, feeling disconnected and anxious.  And then He spoke and it was hard to compose myself.  He said:  “stop trusting in bank statements and financial tables, learn to ruthlessly trust me.”  The voice went on, told me to look around, look at the eco-systems of life and complexities all around me.  They don’t worry, they don’t fret, they are taken care of.  How much more will I be taken care of.

I was reminded that we are at the dawn of the Lenten season of the Church, where we are to be stripped away of all our preoccupations and distractions to find ourselves in Him.  We can locate ourselves in his suffering and thus share with him our deepest longings and shortcomings.  We don’t have to wear our fears like a cloak, we can put it on him and hide ourselves in him.  In his creation, in his ever presence, in the Spirit that broods over the earth and bubbles up in the brooks and streams.  If we ruthlessly trust him, we can find our confidence in him.  This is a place of surrender, vulnerability and exposed nakedness.  But we came into this life naked, and naked sometimes we still find ourselves.  We ruthlessly trust not because we are masochists, but because we believe foundational aspects of his nature:  goodness, faithfulness, sustenance, mercy and eternal love.

We are being asked to ruthlessly trust . . . we are ALL being asked to ruthlessly trust.  What’s on the other side of that door?  Let’s open it and find out, but it starts with trust. #Gulp