Monday, October 31, 2011

Light After Dark

One of the jobs that comes my way fairly often is to talk with people going through a dark passageway in their life. Again and again these dear souls have apologized to me for feeling the way they do. I try to assure them that these kind of passageways are a normal part of being a human being. Some of the most amazing people who have ever lived on this planet had their own "dark night of the soul." Included in that list are people like C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and Mother Teresa: it seems that even those with great spiritual maturity face these times in their lives.

I recall a conversation with my own Father about such a time for him. He described his feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and hopelessness. His great challenge was not that he did not believe in God but like Job, he did believe in God and could not understand why God would let him suffer the way he was suffering. It was a very painful journey but after a time the darkness of his grief began to fade and the light of God's love was shining again in his heart. His faith was even deeper and stronger on the other side of this hard journey.

Martin Luther had a period of great despair which he wrote about in 1527. His prayers seemed pointless, he said. God seemed silent and distant and unconcerned with his pain. Some of his friends were so concerned about him they thought that he might not survive and feared for his life. It was bad. Very bad. But somehow the darkness did not overwhelm him. In fact, he wrote a hymn during this time - one of the greatest hymns of the church: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It is an old hymn so you may not know the words - here are some of them.

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing ..."

There are things in life that we do not get over - we simply must go through them. What I know now from my own experience with God is that I will never have to make that journey alone because he will go with me.

Remember: God is not afraid of the dark and when we pass through those dark places in our lives and are gripped by fear, God is not. God is not afraid of our questions, our grief or our doubts.

"God is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:2

A received a note not long ago from a person I had talked with, listened to, and prayed with during a very difficult time for them. The note said, "I have found God's "Yes", even after what seemed like nothing but "No" everyday."

So good to hear!

Just thinking, Steve Yates

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Stuff and the Seasons of Life

For the first time in a long time the air outside feels cool! Perhaps it is finally Fall - Autumn has arrived! When Fall arrives this heart of mine turns to all things pumpkin!

I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin patches, and carving pumpkins! I even like those little candy pumpkins that are really candy corn in the shape of a pumpkin. I watched a brief story about the new world record pumpkin that some farmer grew this year. I think it was about the size of Rhode Island. It filled the back of a large pick-up truck. I saw the elephants at the Houston Zoo chowing down on pumpkins - they were in pumpkin heaven!

Along with my pumpkin love, I love the change of seasons. People say the seasons don't really change in Texas - we only have two seasons some say - hot and less hot. But on days like today, I feel the change of seasons in the air. Thank God for the change!

The truth is human life is seasonal and thank the Lord that things change. Thank goodness I do not have to be 13 years old (the nightmare year of my life) all my life. It was nice to run those Marathon's in my 30's and 40's but I have no interest in going back. Life has never been more enjoyable than it is right now - this season is the best so far!

With the seasons of change that come with life we experience newness that you cannot experience any other way! The arrival of my Grand kids took me by such surprise - the love and affection and joy they have brought to my life is a serendipity I could not experience until now! In my 30's I was a know it all - in my 50's I see how little I really know.

There is the line about Jesus in Luke 2:52 - it says he grew in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God, and with man. He was 12 years old when we hear that and the next thing we know he is 30 and beginning his public life of ministry that would change our world forever.

While I likely will not be any taller in the days ahead, I do want to grow in wisdom, favor with God and in favor with my fellow human beings and the seasons of life give me the opportunity to do so.

Welcome the seasons and grow!

Just thinking, (about pumpkins and stuff)
Steve Yates