29 October, 2012

Darkness to Light, Part 2

The darkness-to-light story of addiction and recovery is beautiful indeed. There is another story of darkness-to-light that I’ve been blessed to see.  It’s a parallel I find interesting.  Indulge me?

The addict in active recovery and the Chinese Christian believer are very similar in two aspects of their lives – they are each completely amazed and grateful for the gift they’ve been given…a gift of Life.  And they each are compelled to share this news, that is to give back so that perhaps just one person may here the Good News of hope and Life.

Of the Chinese students I have met, many came to this country with limited knowledge of Jesus and no belief in God.  It’s a story they’ve not had the privilege of hearing.  Once in the USA, some hear the gospel message and walk away.  But some hear the gospel message and are intrigued.  They listen, they learn, they ask many, many questions, they desire this God they hear about and they accept this promise of the Saviour.  They are forever changed.  The change is not subtle.  The change is like going from total darkness to blinding light.  They are eager to tell of this Good News.

What a strange pair: Addicts in recovery and people from other cultures both living the ‘darkness-to- light’ story.  It’s as though the darkness was so dark and now the light is so very bright that they are completely alive and basking in the light. 

Am I walking around in blinders as to my great need for God?  Has my life gotten so easy that the “Good News” has just become “OK news”? Are we so unaware of how truly dark our lives would be without God’s grace and mercy?  The recovering addict and new Chinese believer seem never to forget!

I want that joy, that overwhelming sense of salvation.  I want to live my life so that others will know of His love.  I confess that there are many days that I do not live this way.

But….when Jesus said, Follow Me, I think he meant for me to get into my daily world and share my own story of darkness-to-life.  That’s really all I can testify to – my life, my vulnerable moments, my pain, my joy, my hope.  We each have our own story.  It’s only yours and it’s only mine. 

He’s saying to me:
“Kathy, I love you, I adore you, I died for you, I’m living inside of you.  This is GREAT GREAT news for you.  It’s the best news you could ever have received.  You’ve gone from total darkness into the light!  Follow Me into the world and tell others.  When you have GREAT news to share, you share it, am I right?  Is My salvation GREAT news to you?  Do you truly believe this miracle?  Are you working your salvation by following Me into the world and telling people what you have found in Me?  Will you?  Will you?”

08 October, 2012

Darkness to Light

What a beautiful country night, I thought...it was cool outside and we were in rural Winston County, Mississippi.  You could hear frogs, crickets and critters chirping, croaking and calling into the night.  The world felt alive.  As we were loading up in our car to return to our overnight lodge I decided it would be great to walk the ½ mile instead.  How wonderful to walk a country gravel road in the sweet fall weather.  I noticed that Ray grinned at me when I announced my plan.  Strange, I thought but husbands are at times, right?

So off I went on my secluded night walk.  I left the driveway and turned down the road.  Did I mention this was a country road?  I soon realized exactly what that meant as in no street lights.  Hmmm, Ok, I’m good.  I begin to remember the ditches on each side of the gravel road and that I was now blind to them.  I begin hearing the critter chirps and calls much more loudly.  My steps were less sure, my heart was pounding, I was scared.  I begin looking to the underbrush for glowing eyes (too many movies) but couldn’t even see the underbrush under the cover of darkness.  I didn’t know it could be so dark.  Not one single ounce of light anywhere.  This city girl was spoiled to light.

Ray’s previous grin settled into my mind.  He knew the darkness would overwhelm me.  He was right.  I ran back to find him and to find light.

Hello, my name is Kathy and my son is a drug addict.  Those words pierce my heart.  We’ve been on a difficult journey for 2.5 years and the first months were much like that dark gravel road.  We could not see, we had no idea where to walk, we were afraid, we were devastated, we clung to each other but more importantly to our God.  He was leading even in the dark.  

It is now 901 days later and Nick is well, very well and he is on a healthy road to recovery.  In the last few weeks I've come to wonder and realize how my silence about Nick's addiction has hindered those around me.  Hindered people from seeing and experiencing God's gracious concern and healing in our lives.  For you see, our story is amazing….absolutely God-directed, God-healed amazing.  But by me not sharing the deep struggle, the deep pain and misery of our journey I have robbed you of the full glory of God’s work.  Not only has God healed Nick and restored him in our lives but a newly created Nick has emerged.  God’s answer to our prayers has been so beyond any hopes or dreams we could have ever imagined.  I’m really not exaggerating… it is truly unbelievable!

I’ve learned that we in community are called to share the joy, misery and pain of life.  Not to glorify our own situations or struggles but in the end to give glory to the name of God who gives good gifts, who heals and restores.
"All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.Acts 2:44-47
What would it be like to actually share our lives with each other?  Really share....I mean the deep places, the places of disappointment and of pain.  What a community God will create in our lives if we choose to be transparent.  At least, that's our story and we're overwhelmed.

When I tell you our son is well I expect you feel joy for him and for us.  But how much more joy, amazement and thanksgiving would you feel if you had known how dark the night had become on our journey.  I hid because of shame, embarrassment and the humiliation of our struggle.  But I’ve learned that those dark days are now nothing in comparison to His great Light in our lives…For it’s only when we actually know darkness that we can appreciate the light.

So...today give praise with me to our God for healing, restoration and redemption.  Whatever you're going through...He can and will lead you in the dark night and heal you.  I encourage you to share your own personal darkness with your community of believers....yes, for their support but also so that God's beautiful, in-His-time answer will break the darkness and reveal His great light and love.  To God be the Glory!

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