Saint John of the Cross wrote about “The Dark Night of the Soul”. The journey is called “The Dark Night”, because darkness represents the hardships and difficulties the soul meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. “The “dark night of the soul” is a term that goes back a long time. It is a term used to describe what one could call a breakdown of a perceived meaning in life…a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. Some will call this the “Wilderness Experience”.
Now many of you may call this a bunch of bunk but for me it was a real season of testing for me in my faith. I NEVER stopped believing in the saving grace of my Savior Jesus Christ or of the goodness and faithfulness of God, but I did have an extended time of being distant from God, not finding much joy or purpose in my life. I was VERY ready to be called home to my God in Heaven and be done with this world. I was in the desert for much of 2015.
The one gift that I carried with me was the verse from Isaiah 32:18 “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” I knew that this word was given to me in January and was the promise awaiting me for the year of 2015. With that I pressed on in silence. I waited on the Lord, only to hear crickets. I woke up everyday and did that which was before me. I did life because it is what God had called me to do but God was nowhere to be found. He was eerily silent.
Here is what I learned:
1. God always takes care of His people in the Wilderness.
He may not seem like He is present but He is. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Just because you can’t hear his voice or FEEL his presence doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. I was hemmed in on every side and knew I was safe and protected. If God brought me to this place of solitude, I could trust His plan and be patient as He did what He needed to do.
2. God will not leave you in the desert. If you remain in the wilderness , you will eventually die “He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which he has sworn to our fathers” Deut 6:23
3. The wilderness has but one goal to sift us, reduce us, and strip us down to Christ alone.
It does indeed do this! I am more dependent upon the Holy Spirit today then at any other time in my life. My unsure self finds its assurance in Christ alone for every decision, every thought, every fear, every test, every need, every want, every work.
4. The wilderness is a symbol of “new beginnings”.
As I entered the wilderness it took me some time to figure out what in the world was going on. Once I was aware that this was a “Dark Night” given to me by God as a time of sanctification. I settled in for the long haul and was willing to wait for God’s work to be complete because I KNEW that in the end, no matter how long it took, that God was doing a new thing. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
I would never trade time in the wilderness for any comforts in this world! So take hope my friend, if this is a season of Wilderness Wandering for you or if the discomforts of this world weigh heavy upon you…God has a plan. He is working whether you see it or not. His ways are not your ways but His blessings are worth it! He is a good good Father!
And this is why I did not write in 2015! But alas, the words are coming back and the desire to share is bubbling up.
Let 2016 come!