A month after the devastating Australian bush fires were extinguished, we visited the Adelaide hills. We stood on a hill overlooking a vineyard and saw the distinct line where the fire stopped just short of the vines. Beyond that line, the land was scorched. As we drove out of the hills, we went through the blackened zone. Just a couple of miles down the road, I called for our friend to stop the car so that I could get out and look. Here, just weeks after the fire, green was sprouting energetically from forests of charred trees. Life amidst devastation, beauty from ashes, hope from loss and despair. Life often incubates in the darkness until it is developed enough to see the light and be exposed. Seeds are hidden in the dirt, secret and unseen until they sprout and push through the dirt to unfurl their leaves to the sun. In the darkness of the womb, we grow slowly and intricately until we can survive the beauty and trauma of birth. Sometimes, when I am in the middle of grief or difficulty, it seems that all is dark, broken and dying. The darkness creeps at the edge of my soul, whispering that something is wrong, that I am alone. It can be hard to see what lies beyond the ashes. It takes faith to have the hope of newness and rebirth when we cannot see it for ourselves. In a recent difficult time, as I was sitting in silence, I got a picture in my mind. I was sitting in a dark room, with my legs crossed on the floor. As I sat there, God entered the room and sat facing me, crossed legged on the floor and placed hands on my knees. God said, “It’s okay. We can sit here together in the dark as long as you need to.” The good news is that God sits with us in the darkness, companions us through the unknown and uncertainty. When the time is right, the light will come, the darkness recede, the sprouts will emerge.…just like the scorched trees bursting forth in green. After all, this is the work that Jesus came to do:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Where have you felt loss, death or despair? How can you make friends with the darkness of unknowing, the hiddenness of what is to come? Where do you sense God’s companionship in the dark times? What is being incubated in you in this season of darkness? Where is life sprouting from the ashes in your life?