Monday, February 24, 2014

And the Darkness Has Not Overcome It

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
- John 1:1-5

When the semester began, something in me just knew that it would be a time of growth. Last semester was a time to rest. And now it seemed that God was ready for me to keep growing. I must admit - I was scared. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my mind, "spiritual growth" meant something something bad was about to happen and I had better get ready to learn whatever painful lessons that bad thing was going to teach me. As if the only way God can teach us is through hurting us. Honestly, I was not trusting Him. I did not trust that He will be good to me. I did not trust that He truly wants the best for me. I did not trust that He is the King of kings and LORD of lords. I did not trust that God is love, light, and beauty.

Just over a week ago I went to a retreat with some others from my school. It was different for me than other retreats have been. It wasn't a "spiritual high" where I felt overwhelmingly close to God, and then deflated once I returned to campus. It was the sort of gentle, yet firm encouragement that a Father gives. Small moments, new insights, beautiful connections. I saw hearts changed that weekend. I saw utter beauty radiate from the hearts of so many dear friends. That is the only way I can think to describe it. I saw incredible people glow with the joy and hope of God despite all of the pains and hurt and scars in their pasts. I saw the light of God.

For light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it.

God is teaching me. I can feel it. There are so many things I have to learn from Him, and so many things I know He is trying to teach me. And it is sure a good thing that He is such a loving and patient God, because sometimes I don't listen very well. I worry and stress, ignore Him and make mistakes. But I think I might be starting to get a hint about what within myself I need to work on.

The growing never stops. We are like plants - the delicate ones in gardens that need lots of care. We cannot just exist status quo. With no water, no pruning or weeding or fertilizer, our spiritual walk with God will begin to wither. But when we are tended to and cared for, when we constantly strive to get closer to God, to get to truly know the One who is really the best friend we can ever hope to have...when we do that, we grow. We blossom. We shine the light of Christ that God has put within us. Because He is God, and when we invite Him to dwell within us, He cannot help but shine out.

So if you are going through a "growing" time, I want to encourage you. Growth is never easy. Academic learning requires hours of studying. Becoming physically stronger requires hours in the gym. And growing, learning, and becoming stronger in God means that we will have to go through times that are not filled to overflowing happiness and peace and easy, lovely things. In fact, Christ says that life will not be that way. We all have our crosses to bear. Sometimes it is in the ordinary stresses that school or work will inevitably bring. But hard though it may be, it is always worth it. Every single thing we do can be done to praise the Lord. (Yes, even lab write-ups for Physics.) There is joy to be found in even the darkest of moments, and beauty in the lowest of times.

So keep your chin up, and keep glowing and growing. He's got this.