Resting under the dark grayish blue hues of makeup that is the dawn of the sky’s face on a Sunday morning, I listen to the placating voice of Leslie Mills in Yanni’s “Before the Night Ends” while my stoic, broken gaze is raptured by the song. Truthfully, my faith is hurting. I have been feeling distant from God, yet His gift to me through this perfectly beautified pain resonates in way I cannot avoid or deny.
There are moments, stints in Christianity, where adversity strikes spontaneously. A time arrives when faith seems like the wrong choice, when Christ Himself seems like a lost fictional character in a fairy tale reserved strictly for the absent-minded folk looking for an escape rather than a purpose. How long does this phase last? More importantly, is this just a phase, or is this a reality check within the life of faith? I would like to explore these thoughts here.
What strikes me is how doubt can become so abject as to seem more real than belief itself. What I’m facing is the mindless resistance of my old self desiring its place back in my life. But my eyes have been opened; I cannot “un-see” my faith. I have been embraced by His essence and enraptured by His truth—I cannot un-know what I now know anymore than I cannot take off my humanity and become an insect.
A JEALOUS GOD, AND A NEW ‘SKIN’
Listening to “Before the Night Ends” brought me to a stolid state of mind. I slowed down enough to realize my position in my faith and my thoughts of Christianity at this point in time: In the air, vacillating between the desire to scream at the sky (as if God is there and not inside me through the Holy Spirit) and my incessant need for His love and presence—despite my rebellion to pursue Him more adamantly. I make God jealous by desiring anything other than Him before desiring Him. The adversity of the Christian is the level of aversive doubt we must face and fight with faith. Our faith, of course, is only as strong as the amount of ourselves we’re willing to “let die” in order to gain the “new epidermis”; namely the new spiritual skin of faith.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
As I listened, the words and flow of the song reminded me of a stark image of the Christian faith: Christianity has moments when we are called to either fight or rest. The fight could be evangelism, prayer, or simply obedience in the face of rebellion. Rest could be meditation, surrender of thought or concern, singing praises, or even physical rejuvenation. At some point however, there will always come the opposite (fight or rest), and this striking point hit me like a wrecking ball while in my car. This song, having pulled me into the trance of relaxation, had me realize I was resting in the posture of gaining back some strength—but for what? To fight again. We are not called to permanently rest on this earth.
Those who claim they will rest when they’re dead do not understand the balance of work and play. Those who do not understand there is a time for ‘fast’ and a time for ‘slow’ are unwise and “like a leaf in the wind,” trapped between indulgence and desire. When Christ said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) He was inviting us not to get carried away with the exhaustion of constantly living in action (“fight” mode). His invitation was not only Him saying, “I have the power to give you the rest you seek,” it was actually initiating the thought that we need to seek rest from our adversities/battles. There is a time to fight and a time to rest; a time to suffer and a time to heal—Jesus knew this. There is a calm before the storm, and Jesus sees when the storms are coming.
WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT JESUS
If you’re like me, and you find yourself doubting your faith or questioning Jesus at times, recall the truth that we’re in a storm, and that this storm was given to us because it will bring us closer to God when we are obedient in pursuing His presence even while it appears to be distant. Jesus is never far, He is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He will not forsake us or abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6). If you feel like He’s forgotten you, I encourage you to share that with Him openly and anticipate His response. I would encourage you to pray with a believer who will agree with you in prayer. God will send you an answer, and He will not leave you to fall into disbelief; He will lead you to remember that only He is God, and that you are deeply loved. Be lifted high, readers. In Jesus name!
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