Friday, July 24, 2015

He Turned Out All the Lights

I’ve been listening to the audio version of a book written by Barbara Brown Taylor, “Learning to Walk in the Dark.”
I’ve listened to it on several recent road trips. On the 4th of July when I went to help Emily move her stuff out of the house where she was temporarily staying. And again, recently, when I went to visit my mom. I also checked out the ebook version so I could find and reread the snippets that caught my attention.
I am mesmerized by this woman’s voice. She narrates the book herself and does an amazing job. She was an episcopal priest for years but eventually left the church. (She wrote a book to tell about her experience….Leaving Church)
Perhaps she honed her speaking skills behind the pulpit....? I am also intrigued with her writing style. Sometimes she conveys her thoughts in very long run on sentences, cobbled together with commas, colons, semicolons and dashes. She gets her point across in an almost long winded, lyrical way.
My last post talked about a late night (very dark) journey when Shasta met Aslan. It broaches the subject of learning to walk in the dark. While Taylor acknowledges that, at first glance, darkness in scripture seems overwhelmingly negative there are also verses that say something different. There are stories that tell of great things that are said/done/accomplished at night or in the dark.

In the Message, in Job Chapter 19 Job laments:
God threw a barricade across my path—I’m stymied; he turned out all the lights—I’m stuck in the dark. He destroyed my reputation, robbed me of all self-respect. He tore me apart piece by piece—I’m ruined! Then he yanked out hope by the roots. He’s angry with me—oh, how he’s angry!

Perhaps the treasures hidden in the darkness are not easily seen until we are back in the light once again. We think God is mad at us but it is often in our darkness that we meet God. I met him there during a very tumultuous period of my life that was indeed dark, scary and overwhelming.
I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. 
So does God really turn out the lights? That is the age old, oft pondered (and more oft argued about) paradox of determinism versus free will. That has been a major sore spot for me in my relationship with God but it’s true; scripture indicates that He does, sometimes, turn out our lights ..for his purposes....and for our good.
God dwells in deep darkness. God comes to people in dark clouds, dark nights, dark dreams and dark strangers in ways that sometimes scare them half to death but almost always for their good--or at least their renovation. God does some of God’s best work in the dark. From a sermon delivered by Barbara Brown Taylor at the 2014 Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis, Minn

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