God must bring us to a point—I cannot tell you how it will be, but he will do it—where, through a deep and dark experience, our natural power is touched and fundamentally weakened, so that we no longer dare trust ourselves. He has had to deal with some of us very strangely, and take us through difficult and painful ways, in order to get us there…. But then at last it is that he can begin to use us….
We would like to have death and resurrection put together within one hour of each other. We cannot face the thought that God will keep us aside for so long a time; we cannot bear to wait. And of course I cannot tell you how long he will take, but in principle I think it is quite safe to say this, that there will be a definite period when he will keep you there…. All is darkness, but it is only for a night. It must indeed be a full night, but that is all. Afterwards you will find that everything is given back to you in glorious resurrection; and nothing can measure the difference between what was before and what now is!
—Watchman Nee in Devotions for Lent from the Mosaic Holy Bible
This Lenten season has been different for me. Last year was my first time to participate in the Christian practice of fasting for forty days prior to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. I remember the tradition being new and fresh to me, since—of course—I had never participated. For most of the beginning of Lent this year, I found myself struggling—struggling spiritually, struggling with my fast. It wasn’t until last week that I felt some “sunshine” instead of “clouds.” As I reflected, I at first thought the majority of my fast was a waste, but as I thought more deeply about it, I changed my mind. It wasn’t a waste. The Spirit of God through the fast had exposed some hidden sin in my heart that needed to surface and be dealt with appropriately.
As Nee commented in the above quote, God brings us through times we may describe as “night.” Over the last year, there have been at least two occasions in which I felt as if I was walking in the dark. The first being the loss of our twin babies, Hadlee and Jaxon, back in August of 2009. The second has been during Lent and involved the intense battle with sin that has raged in my heart. My inner person feels like a wounded soldier—beat up and tired—but the Spirit has proven strong and the grace of Jesus Christ has restored hope. I pray only that the Spirit continues to bestow purity and strength in my weakness.
“Afterwards you will find that everything is given back to you in glorious resurrection; and nothing can measure the difference between what was before and what now is!” We cannot ignore that “night” does enter into our experiences and lives. But it is equally true that Light has also come. After tragedy, the Lord has once again blessed Aimee and me with a pregnancy. She is now about 10 weeks along, and baby and mother are doing well (except for mommy being tired and sick of course!). While we have been a bit hesitant to fully embrace this gift, we are so very thankful for each day of life given to our third child.
Also, once again the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church have proven to strengthen my inner person so that I may continue to die to sin and be raised to new life. Don’t give up in the heat of the battle. As has been made popular in one of my favorite YouTube videos, “Sunday’s Comin’!”