As a native Floridian, winters are hard for me. It’s not just the closed toe shoes and the cumbersome layers of clothes that make me feel constrained liked a mummy wrapped in fleece.
It’s the darkness.
The shorter days, gray skies, and the browning emptiness leave flowers blighted and bare trees somber. I don’t notice how much it affects me until spring arrives, and I am awed by the glorious light. I catch myself staring out the window. I see the green growth of new leaves on the mounds of sticks sprouting up from the earth and the reliable bloom of azaleas bursting bright with joy, but it’s the light, pervasive and ethereal, that captivates me.
It reminds me of my relationship with God. How at times, he seems dormant and, despite my efforts to seek him, I feel alone wandering in a thicket of weeds. The weeds of life are everywhere: dissatisfaction with our jobs, difficulty with our children, disappointments in our marriages, and disillusionment with our lives.
I hate the weedy parts, feeling out of touch with someone who I know is so beautiful. They scare me and remind me of the fear and abandonment Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was knowingly awaiting torture and death. My problems pale in comparison. Still, I know they matter to him, just like Jesus’s did to our heavenly father.
During these times, I try to trust as Jesus did. Thy will be done. But mostly, I feel like a toddler writhing out of a winter coat. It’s like Jesus is hibernating in my heart, and I badly need him to come out and warm the chill that aches me. I am desperate for his light that helps me navigate the nuances of life. And despite my wrangling, there are times he just seems asleep in the tomb, with that big heavy rock that might as well be a mountain sealing it closed.
This is the darkness I fear most, that’s the hardest to endure, and the loneliest feeling I know. It’s also when I cling tight to my faith, remind myself I am rooted in his love, and redeemed by his light. Knowing this doesn’t make the time in the dark any easier, but it reminds me that like winter, it will pass.
Light always returns. Once again, I see the bloom of his love, the light of his hope, and the color of his conversation that without words communicate his preeminent presence. And because of that darkness I so dreaded, colors are more vibrant, the sun brighter, and the flowers more fragrant.
As nature dances briskly in the breeze, barefoot I step out of the shadow into the light that is no longer just a promise of what awaits, but the fulfillment of what was always there.
Lent is a time to grow closer to God, to weed out all of the distractions and disillusions that keep us from him. How do you stay close to God when he feels far away? Did you read last week’s post?