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Advent: Befriending the Darkness Within

PRAYER

[God, I am leaning into these fears because pretending like they aren’t there hasn’t worked. I am beginning to suspect that maybe it is in the midst of the fear that you are present; that grinding through the noise in order to reach the place you’ve called me is only partly the mission. I’m beginning to believe this Advent that light not only dispels the darkness but maybe is found within it. What if you would rend the darkness and speak to me. Maybe I would take my focus away from the light only for a moment to see you here, now, in my present darkness. Or maybe I will forsake my constant pursuit of clarity and grand perspective long enough to know that you haven’t called me to such a high position. Maybe this Advent you are not simply calling me to wait on you but with you.]

It is a comforting thought to imagine that Advent is not about waiting on God as much as it about waiting with God. Sure, most of the time I feel that I am waiting on God, but often I find that when I am waiting on him it is because I believe he is somewhere else. When I wait on him it is because I imagine he will come from a place of hope, purity and clarity down into my despairing and shameful state of everyday life.

When I wait on him I believe that both my current environment and state are not good enough and when he comes he will come like a doctor into a waiting room with mouth covered to prevent contamination to take me to the place more suitable to meet. When I wait on him I imagine that he will come from the light into the darkness, from the life into the death, from the pure into the sinful, from the clarity into the confusion.

But if he did this then we couldn’t seriously call him Emmanuel, God with us. If this were the case then we are the most miserable of people and the veil was never torn and as slabs of cement and drywall separates patient from the doctor so are we separated from the present love of God.

Have you been looking for God? Have you been looking for a sign of his nearness or his leading? Here is my thought. Befriend the darkness in front of you. Befriend the void before you, which God has not yet filled. Befriend the fear for it will lead you to Jesus.

I’ve spent much of my life trying to quiet my shame, anger, fear, anxiety, OCD and intrusive thoughts in order to hear God more clearly. My base assumption is, that I must create a clean, orderly environment for God to speak to me, or put more simply, I must get rid of the darkness for the light to break in.

What if this Advent we were to expect Jesus to appear not just in the light but in the darkness?

You see, I think the darkness within has been trying to lead us to Jesus this whole time. We want to unfriend, disassociate or even cut off those paralyzing fears and intrusive thoughts. We want to silence the voices of doubt and unholy desires of revenge and verbal violence, but perhaps these unwanted realities actually have something to tell us. Maybe these things are not meant to be brushed away, shoved in a closet or even “worked through,” but listened to. Those unwanted realities within, that sometimes rear their ugly heads, are perhaps the very grace of God, drawing us to listen to what our soul is trying to tell us.

If you are like me, you may find yourself looking for the presence of God in all the right places but always unable to find him. What if we took the opportunity to shift our gaze? What if this Advent, instead of waiting for the light to come into the darkness what if we began imploring the darkness, come Lord Jesus. Instead of closing our eyes and hunkering down until the darkness passes what if we embraced the darkness; befriended it and listened to what it has to say?

It is my firm believe that Jesus will be found in whatever is most present to us. That often times is not going to be clarity, joy and light. So what is most present to you? Is it fear, joy, sadness, anger, anxiety or numbness? Whatever is most present to you, ask Jesus if he is not there; see if he does not answer you. Call into the darkness words of surrender and unity; befriend the darkness and you may find that Jesus is there waiting with you ready to take you deeper and deeper to the places you do not want to go.

Come Lord Jesus, come