Don’t we all love the light? Not just the sunlight, but the times of joy when our hearts just dance. Having three granddaughters delights my heart, and since we live so far away, each visit provides a workout for the muscles in my face; I smile most of the time.
But life comes with much more darkness, frustration, hardship and grief than we usually admit. The Bible, always honest in depicting life, grounds me in the good times with truths and insights I will need for the struggles that come with living in this fallen world. Currently, my personal study comes from Luke’s gospel, while our pastor’s preaching through I Peter. In Luke, Jesus performs miracles, but faces opposition from Pharisees and the teachers of the law. The widow of Nain watches her only son brought back to life. Later the demon-possessed man in the Gerasenes sits fully clothed and in his right mind after Jesus orders the legion of demons into a herd of pigs. We read of some, amazed by Jesus’ miracles, who receive invitations to follow Him; others get orders to go home and remain silent. Some folks from dire circumstances embrace the Good News; others with education and religious status reject Jesus and plot His death.
Last November we visited Volcano National Island on the Big Island of Hawaii. For miles we saw nothing but hardened lava with only touches of green here and there. When we came to the sulfur-covered rocks, Stacey and 3-month-old Baby stayed away to avoid the noxious fumes. So barren and desolate, the irregular surfaces made for hard walking, and even harder pushing for Dave as he navigated me in my wheelchair. The terrain reminded me of the times we have to walk through hard places, dark places within our hearts. I wasn’t thinking of pain or suffering, but rather of the hardness in my everyday frustrations. I “lose it” over silly things, inconveniences, tasks I can no longer perform like unscrewing a jar or reaching to the back of the cupboard. After years of knowing the Lord, studying and memorizing His Word, and learning to deal with pain, why is too much of the fruit in my life rotten? Shouldn’t I apply Scripture better than I do? While beating myself up, I realize that I have, once again, slipped back into performance mode, even though God has shown me grace repeatedly through the years. I sat where the road ended and watched as Dave, Stacey, Bryan and Baby headed over the hardened lava and took
this picture. The sign, Road Closed, was a laughable understatement. While vehicles couldn’t get through, folks could walk , albeit carefully, over the once molten lava. For a moment I sat in the wheelchair feeling a bit sorry for myself because I could go no further on the lava-covered road.
Faithfully, the Lord used this photo to convey a spiritual message: it reminded me that the performance road closes to all whom the Savior calls to Himself. Jeremiah 31: 3 confirms this: “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.'” In the midst of the dark blackness, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a verse I had meditated on in the light. God resurrects life out of the most barren of life’s situations when we allow Him to breathe life into the darkest moments of our life. He gave me a visual of that too as I looked over the pictures taken that day. On one of our hikes amid this desolate topography, in the midst of infertile ground, Dave took another photograph. That snapshot reminded me of Isaiah 61:3, which says, “To appoint them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”