The only way to love everything about your life – even when you’re in an emotionally or spiritually dark time – is to learn how to see the light that already exists. There are no shortcuts, tips or tricks when you’re in a depressing or painful place. You faithfully feel your way in the dark, notice what brings light, and focus on the flickers.
As I write this, the construction workers next door are pounding, sawing, hammering, drilling, thumping and bumping the machinery and tools. The air compressors and the table saws are the worst. SOOOO LOOUUUDDDD!!!! You’d think I’d be used to it by now; they’ve been working on that house for over a year. But it hasn’t gotten any easier. Or quieter.
I wouldn’t call this a “spiritually dark time” or even a burden. But the construction noises that echo day after day, week after week, month after month are so jarring and distracting that I can’t even keep my metaphors straight. Am I supposed to be writing about a dark tunnel, a trial, or a test?
It is good practice, though. Especially at this very moment because a bigger, louder, more powerful machine – a cement mixer, excavator or maybe even a pile driver – has just backed into their driveway. I, a writer who loves silence more than anything including chocolate, have been given more time to practice.
What is this “practice”, you ask? This. Daily. Life. These tunnels or tests or trials, whether they’re peevish annoyances or painful losses, are good exercises. They help me flex and strengthen my muscles of gratitude, compassion, peace and joy. These stupid, painful, annoying, goofy tunnel tests are helping me grow.
And guess what? Every tunnel test is temporary. They may be painful or shallow, silly or traumatic. Your tunnel test may be a struggle to get through the day as a grieving widow or the lifelong belief that no one cares about you. But no matter what tunnel test you’re going through, you won’t always be in season of your life.
This, too, shall pass.
3 Ways to See the Light
Will you emerge from the tunnel with a fresh sense of peace, joy and gratitude? Maybe you’ll choose to feel your way through, find the light, and focus on the flickers and flames. Good. I’ll meet you there.
Or maybe you’ll exit the tunnel gasping, clawing, complaining, and fearing what comes next. Maybe nothing will change or grow in you because you were distracted by how things should have been. Maybe your regret, pain, guilt, or anger will cripple the muscles that could’ve grown stronger.
Choose to travel lightly.
1. Light a candle every day
In Exodus 30:7-8 I read that Aaron’s daily duty as a priest was to light the lamps and burn fragrant incense before the Lord at the altar. This set the tone for the tabernacle, creating a place holy to God and people. The daily lamp and incense was a place for relationship, connection, communion with God. It was both a literal and a symbolic way to see God in the dark.
Find at least small way to see God in your dark tunnel test. In Prayers for Healing and Recovery After Surgery I described the excruciating pain I experienced while recovering from shoulder surgery. It was hard to see God in the dark; I though those nights of such darkness and loneliness would never end. I did look for evidence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t see God in the dark. Now, looking back, I believe what got me through was my hope and faith that even though I couldn’t feel, sense, or see God in the dark…I knew in my spirit that He was there.
2. Create a pleasing aroma
The incense of fragrant spices in Exodus 30:34-35 was expertly blended by a skilled perfumer and seasoned with salt. It created a pleasing aroma for God. It represented the Israelites’ prayers and presence, and created a place for the Lord to meet with His chosen people. The holy incense was a literal and symbolic sign of God in the dark. The Israelites weren’t in the Promised Land yet; they were wandering lost in the desert. They saw God in the darkness when they went to the tabernacle, lit the incense, and invited His presence into their daily lives.
Do a “sniff test”! Smell God in your daily life – especially when you’re in the dark tunnel. In the ancient times of Moses and Aaron, burning incense made the tabernacles and tents smell good. Maybe you don’t burn incense, but what do you smell? Notice the aroma of fresh coffee and sticky buns, recently mown grass, vanilla bubble bath, a loved one’s sweater, your dog’s furry neck, grandma’s quilt, or a leafy green hedge after it rains.
If you’re curious about incense, read What are the Benefits of Burning Different Types of Incense?
3. Sit still
In Exodus 30:22-25 God instructed Moses to combine liquid myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, calamus, cassia and olive oil and make into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. This oil – both in Biblical times and today – is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our wisdom, counselor, comforter, guide and strength. This is the same Spirit that gave Jesus the power to rise from the dead!
Sit and say “Here I am” to the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite ways to see God in the dark is to simply sit still and say “Here I am.” I get up early every morning and just sit in the presence of God. Often I say “Good Morning, Lord” and “Hello Jesus” and “Welcome, Holy Spirit!” I ask how their night was, and thank them for sleep and life. I let their light fill me — and I notice how much brighter and stronger they are becoming.
The darker the tunnel – and the louder the test! – the brighter the light. If, of course, we faithfully feel our way in the dark, notice what brings light, and focus on the flickers.
With His love,
Travel in Faith and Blossom
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