By Chris Lee
Having been dismissed from jury duty, the afternoon was ahead of me. I walked several blocks from the court house to a favorite restaurant. The unseasonably warm sun beamed upon my face causing me to slip out of my now stifling blazer. It was far too balmy, if a bit blustery, for Nebraska in March. Finishing lunch, I planned my now free afternoon. I would return home and bask in the sun on my porch, enjoying a good book.
By the time I pulled into my neighborhood, the leafless trees had begun to whip in the wind, suggesting stormy weather on the way. The clouds rolled in before I had finished changing clothes. Shortly thereafter, the rain began, propelled sideways by high winds. The porch was a loss, so I settled for a nap on the couch. As I drifted off, I watched the rain drops blast the sliding glass door like aquatic bullets. The wind howled; the day grew darker, and I slept.
Sometime later the inside of my eyelids danced with light. I blinked once, twice, then attempted to open my eyes only to be dazzled by a world of golden light. The recently rain-slicked roof of the house behind ours had been set ablaze by the resurgence of late afternoon sun. The reflected light from the roof was filtered through a tree in our backyard, tossed about by the wind in the bows, then seemingly magnified as it shone through the slider onto the couch where I lay. My living room was alight with dancing fire.
There is often beauty just after the storm. The sun reflects from a myriad of rain drenched surfaces, casting multi-hued rainbows and golden light. Life is like that. We go through dark times, but those periods can lead to beauty beyond the gloom.
Discovering that a dearly held belief system is false is also like that. It’s painful and dark. In my case, that discovery contributed first to a deep depression as I realized I had lived my entire life for a lie; then depression morphed into despair that I would ever be able to extricate my family and myself. When we finally did begin making the transition out, we found ourselves in another difficult time as we negotiated changing relationships with family and friends.
Light and a sure Hope
However, coming to know Jesus and to understand grace has been golden and beautiful. It is a transition not only from darkness to light, but from death to life. There has been pain in the journey, but there has also been much joy. I wouldn’t trade the relationship I have with Jesus or the freedom I have in Him for anything. Nevertheless, there were a lot of rainy days getting to this place of joy.
Lest I imply that I have now “arrived”, whatever that means, let me clearly say that there are still rainy days. I’ve been out of Adventism for quite a few years now, and I don’t struggle with those early issues so much anymore, but life is not all rainbows. I still go through periods where the presence of Jesus seems far away. I sometimes let myself malinger in the Slough of Despond, questioning my spirituality and my faith.
There are still hard times in life, but there’s a difference now. In my old life it seemed as if everyone I knew, including me, felt the need to act as if it never rained and all was sunshine and rainbows. I’m learning that in the authentic church, we come together as broken people, and we support each other through the rain. Even during those dreary days, though, there are golden moments found in fellowship. I have an assurance now that even when I don’t feel Him, Jesus is there. I live in the Light even when I can’t see it through the gloom of this world. There is hope, and He is a sure Hope. Knowing this fact, really knowing it as true TRUTH, gives me a kind of peace in the midst of hardship and a type of joy in the midst of pain that are hard to describe.
I don’t know where you are in your walk today. Maybe you are just starting to question those things that you have been taught your whole life, and it’s really scary. Maybe you’re starting to take the first step towards freedom in Christ, and that’s scarier still. Maybe you’ve been walking with the Lord for a long time but are, as am I, still traveling through the swamplands of despair at times. Maybe today just feels like a dark, rainy day. My prayer for you is that you never forget that no matter how bad things look or feel, you live in the Light of Jesus’ love, and it’s beautiful there. I hope you’ll being praying for me as well.