Waking up in the dark

4:02 a.m. Something interrupts my sleep in the middle of this twilight – predawn moment. The sound gets louder as I stumble downstairs and the on button to the coffee pot knowing I’ll need more than my usual 10 cup daily limit.

Annoyed and barefoot I step out to the back patio with my journal. There my sleep-waker is perched on the gutter. She tilts her head towards me and chirps at me as if to invite me into her conversation. I attempt to shoo her away. She flutters to the ground and picks up pieces of bread crumbs from our supper the night before.  So, I sit down on the steps and whisper, “Okay, God what to you want to say to me,” as I study my new companion. My journal opens to a coffee stained page with the verse about grain, death, and the dark. I had written about how my heart was entombed. I was consumed by grief as if something in me had died. 

The mode between self preservation and self protection where everything feels safe and protected is where I’ve been operating for more than a year. I had stepped out. I leaped too far, I flew too high and the crash was more than my soul could bare.

Jesus himself once said: 

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

Who in their right mind wants to say, “Welcome Death, let’s have a cup of coffee together. Tell me what needs to be buried?” I think one of the most inconvenient truths is that something has to die before something new can live but we don’t want to surrender to the process. It’s incredibly difficult to watch something important to you die. I don’t think we ever get used to it. We think: Don’t touch my career. Don’t touch my body. Don’t touch my marriage. Don’t touch my family.  Don’t touch my dreams. 

But on the other side of death like a seed planted beneath the soil holds new growth, new life. Something better than the best we have. Growth isn’t an accident, it’s a process.  But here’s the thing, we have to want to grow even when we are buried in the dark. 

The swallow chirps at me as if to say, “I trust him, don’t you?” I open myself up to God speaking through this annoying little creature. I question him for awhile and I begin to believe if I surrender to the process there are treasures hidden in the darkness as I wait on God. 

Thomas S Monson once said, “Amidst the confusion of the times, the conflicts of conscience, and the turmoil of daily living, an abiding faith becomes an anchor to our lives.”

Keeping your faith when you’re standing in the dark is no easy task.  Yet if we abandon self-preservation, we become witnesses to the mysterious unfolding of the here and now.  We come to that place, that season, that exact moment when it’s time to do that holy work of waking up to the “wait,” in order to reconnect the pieces of ourselves that we’ve hidden away. It’s a chance to explore what God as new growth takes place. 

This connects to a conversation with my friend.  Every time I’m with her, my soul is changed. She’s older, wiser and saturated with God’s presence. She sees what I can’t see, so I pour out everything, how there seems to be no purpose, no direction. I talk in circles about everything and nothing.

She listens. Minutes pass before she takes my hands and says, “Maybe you’re supposed to just be. Maybe waiting in the dark is a chance to wake up to something new. Maybe right now you are healing. Maybe this in-between feeling is actually a new beginning.” Her South African accent makes her words seem wiser. 

Abide means literally means onward wait. Waking up in the waiting, that’s where I am. And we all think the same thing, who wants to wait in the dark? 

We want the light, we want all the answers, our purpose, the end-game, the meaning of where we are.

I snap back to the present when I sense God’s whisper: Where you are, bruised, bloodied and broken is exactly the place you need to be.  It’s not an in-spite of place. You do not need to know the results or the end game, it’s really none of your business. This process is holy ground. This is the work of me in hidden places of you. 

So this my friends is the work you and I are doing, Waiting and waking. This is your chance to be a part of this holy process in hollowed ground.  Whatever it takes, wake up. Wait, see what God is doing in the soil of your soul. Make this your mantra.

Like my morning companion, this is our chance to see what the dawn brings. The focus isn’t what we used to be but what we could become. The very undoing of you and I in the dark is the new beginning. 

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