by Pam Risser
“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”
These cold, frosty days of winter bring to mind the opening lines of the Christmas carol by Christina Georgina Rossetti, “In the Bleak Mid-winter”. As the woodstove struggles to heat the air in the room around me while the wind howls outside my window and the temperature drops, I am led to think about those times when it has also felt like winter in my heart. In the bleakness of my perceived circumstances, my spirit moans within me and my heart is heavy as stone. Mystics refer to this as “the dark night of the soul”.
“Dark nights” are not the mountain top experiences that we so enjoy. Nor are they the pleasant days of the ordinary. They are sad, lonely times; times of lost-ness, of wandering around in the midst of the unknown. God often feels silent and far away. One does not have to be experiencing a crisis or personal tragedy to experience such moments. Sometimes just the overwhelming demands of normal life can bring on such a time, especially if we are not being intentional about keeping a close connection to the Giver of all life.
We all like to have a certain measure of control over our lives. It is difficult when there are things happening that are out of our control and require us to walk more by faith and less by sight. However, it is faith that allows us to negotiate the mysteries of life. It allows God to lead through the darkness where God knows and I do not.
I once read the story of a visit to a man in his jail cell by the prison chaplain. It was Christmas day and the chaplain commented how lonely it must be. The man responded. “Father, if you agree to be with him, he always agrees to be with you.” Sometimes God uses scripture, the lyrics of a song, or the words of a friend to come to us in our lonely times. Sometimes it is simply a knowing deep in one’s soul.
Just as the increasing warmth of the spring sun begins to thaw through the frozen earth of winter and warm the blowing breeze, basking in the truth of God’s presence can begin to warm our heavy hearts. Even when God’s presence does not seem near, if we turn to Him, he will always agree to be with us. It just may take a while for us to consciously recognize Him.
How will you allow God to come to you today? How does God want to use you to make His love evident to someone who needs to know that they are not alone? Perhaps God wants to use you to touch someone with the sunshine of His love.
Used by permission from The Burning Bush, Franklin Conference newsletter.