I peaked out of the window just long enough to see that all of the lights in the neighbourhood had gone out, not just ours. With my husband out of town, our three children screamed my name in almost perfect harmony the instant we lost electricity.
I immediately raced to the places from where each of them had been calling. One by one we all joined hands and started our trek through the darkness. Why I didn't store the matches with the candles was beyond me. Because of that, our little excursion through the kitchen extended to mysterious places unknown. Looking like what I'm sure resembled a clown act from the circus; we bumped and stumbled our way through the dark house. What seemed like unfamiliar territory were, in reality, places we knew very well... and the contradiction of 'realities' was frustrating and, to my poor stubbed toes, painful.
At one point while we were "adventuring," our youngest child called out from the end of the line, "Mommy, where am I?" Knowing he needed to feel my hand as well as hear my voice, I reached into the black, took his hand, and said, "You're in the darkness, and I'm with you." Even as I spoke those words, I felt my emotions stir. How often had I asked God that very question? Several times over that last few years I've felt like all I could see was darkness.
There was the day my heart seemed to stop when I watched in horror as my husband discovered our 2 1/2-year-old son in a swimming pool fighting for his life. Although he survived, I didn't escape the darkness. You see, it was nighttime that I found most difficult; my dreams were my own worst enemy. Yet the countless nights I sat up in bed soaking in God's Word helped me to discover that it wasn't an empty darkness. It was a darkness where God was.
And then there was the day a simple phone call, in effect, turned out my lights. After going to the doctor to investigate a mysterious pain, my Father was diagnosed with cancer. That was the first blow. And then words like "advanced" and "has spread" made my cloud feel darker than black. That night I cried into my husband's arms and later prayed myself to sleep. It was in the darkness of my room where I felt I was truly not alone. It was a darkness where God was.
And most recently, I felt like I was once again plunged into the dark. This time it was my Mom that bottomless source of encouragement, prayer, hugs and recipes, and suddenly, she was dying. "Six months to live" is what my cousin told me in that late-night, long-distance, devastating, train-wreck of a phone call. I was undone. This time the darkness was overwhelming... and it brought with it confusion and insecurity. What I was feeling wasn't just dark; it was fear of the dark. The kind of darkness you experience when you can't even see your hand in front of your face. The kind of darkness your eyes never adjust to.
It was in this frightened state that I heard myself verbally cry out, "God, where am I?" Like a child lost in the dark, I was desperately searching for stability. Bumping and stumbling and grasping into thin air, I was frantic to grab onto something familiar. Anything.
And that's when it happened. Even though I couldn't see Him, I felt God's tender touch. It was a touch unlike any other... one that instantly calmed my racing heart. And in the stillness, He slipped His hand into mine. He was the Familiar.
It was in that instant that I knew wherever I was, I was not alone. In the deepest part of me, where the darkness was the most frightening, I heard Him reply. With a Voice as soothing and warm as a Father's hand, He answered... "You're in the darkness, Ann, and I'm with you."
What about you? Are you, right now, experiencing the darkness - the frightening uncertainties of life? Take it from someone who's come out the other side. You're not alone. God is with you. He is speaking into your darkness. Just stand still and listen. He explains deep and hidden things. He knows what happens in the darkest places. And where He is, everything is light. (Daniel 2:22)