Upon surveying the contrast between night and day
I sit here in the bushveld at 4 am in the morning, watching a new day break. The birds seem to be on their tea time break already and an inquiring monkey has clearly not yet faced the mirror. It had been raining the whole night and the mist still hangs low over the mountain on which I am perched. I just took the sleeping pill I was supposed to take at 9 last night but I am only now in a state where I can hold anything down. I had been sick the whole evening before and for the duration of the night. I sit here now, with a need to appreciate the impending dawn rather than go lie down and let the sleeping pill work its magic.
The funny thing is that all that I am to pen down here comes not from my experience in the early hours of this morning but actually from yesterday when I had a quiet few minutes with God whilst standing in a river filled with trout (who haven’t developed a taste for my fishing flies) I started to thank Him for the wisdom and depth I have gained in the past year in comparison with how little I knew. Make no mistake there was a good 5 minute discussion pre-empting this statement on how small my knowledge was and still is in terms of the magnitude of who our God is. As a conversation naturally goes I made a remark to Him that this gain in character, knowledge wisdom and depth (further on referred to just as depth) came in the relief period after the greatest burden had been lifted from my shoulder, and not during the hours of darkness. At once I felt small that I should be one of those who only “see God’s hands afterwards” and I may have expected of myself to be one of those who search for God in her darkest moments. I did not, I sought relief, that is all.
I tried to rouse up the memories of my darkest moments and in the middle of the room I do see God. We are not discussing pain or unravelling the roots of my misfortunes but He is merely holding my hand, dressing my wounds as I call upon Him as if He is not in the room. It is as if my plight had blinded me to see that the man I was summoning was there already, in servant’s robes. Interestingly not that of a teacher… When Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and started sinking, He called out for Jesus to save him, He wanted God in His pain and trouble, to save him! Not to answer questions or have a meaningful discussion of what just happened now, no he wanted to be pulled out of the water as soon as possible! And He wanted Jesus to do it!
A dear friend of mine is going the worst kind of pain at the moment, having lost her cervix after a long illness, now facing cancer while her daughter is in the hospital with severe kidney infection. When we spoke a few weeks back all I told her was to not be strong, not to try to keep things going or be positive, I simply told her to hold on and keep God in the loop. In my heart I knew there was so much I could tell her now about why there is pain in the world and how we should deal with it. But intrinsically I knew that all that talk would not relieve her pain and her pain deafens her ears to every voice accept the one offering rest. So that is what I told her, do not be strong, be weak in the arms of the strong one. When you feel ready for more we will take it further.
Through my own experience I have found that it is not in the night that I mature, in fact I find I often weaken. But when the relief comes and my appreciation for life is reinstituted I burst at the seam with questions and answers and my roots deepen tremendously. It is almost like the seasonal cycles we observe here in nature; winter comes and it is all about survival – then Spring and everything grows bigger and bolder that the year before.
What I would like each reader to consider is this; when in pain do not expect growth, expect survival. But be assured, God’s manifest presence in your night will be the fuel with which you will burn all your old beliefs on an altar and wait upon God for new ones, but probably only when dawn comes.