Tag Archives: darkness

The Golden Thread

In ministry and life I’ve seen a some hard things. Some have been difficult things for me personally so many others have been the excruciating things other people have had to endure.

I could name them all from work to relationships to financial troubles to church woes, or our mental and physical health issues, but you know what I’m talking about. You’ve experienced the same or watched others do it.

Loss and illness happen to everyone but it is so much harder when death and sickness come calling personally on your family and friends.

I’m wading through something now with someone that has been unfolding for over a decade. It is a thing that is not only tough but it is filled with all kinds of messy emotions, overflow and backwash. I’m sure you have something similar. It will never go away. It is a chronic painful messy situation. It hurts.

Once again, the words of Sarah Young surprised and comforted me this week. In Jesus Always she writes these words as if Jesus was speaking, Ask Me to take this dark, ugly thing and transform it into something lovely. I can weave bright, gold strands of Glory into the most heart-wrenching situation.

When I read this, I physically took an extra breath. It hit me suddenly that I needed to look for bright gold strands of Glory in the tough places in life.

I even wrote down a few dark situations I have been through and started identifying the golden threads. Sometimes it is easier to see the thread shine after the fact than it is when we are slogging through something.

Consistently, faithfully the gold thread was there. Moments of comfort. Rock bottom times with new life on the other side. Grief, unbearably smothering that found a way to keep breathing. Joy, laughter, grace, in spite of troubles and worries. Lessons learned. Lives changed.

Everyone is going through something. Take a moment today and find a shiny bit of golden thread glinting in God’s Light, and give thanks.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor.  

  

 

Your Face is Shining

I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it. (Jack Handey, American Humorist) I agree with Jack, I don’t get it. The older I get, the more I don’t understand…like politics, plumbing or why bad things happen or even why good things happen.

I’m home today with a plumber and he’s helping me see how much I don’t know about my home’s plumbing needs. He’s telling me in big long paragraphs about water minerals and I’m wanting him to condense it to 140 characters or less. Finally,  I ordered a new toilet and he seemed excited about that and stopped trying to teach me things. Clearly,  some things I’m not meant to understand.

But, I’ve never stopped trying to learn more about faith, life and our purpose here. I don’t believe at all that life is a big joke. I do believe it is a fleeting gift. I believe some people squander it and some people savor it.

I believe the key to it all is light. Yes, light. It’s why I’m slightly obsessed with sunrises and sunsets. That whole twice a day phenomenon is about light. Sometimes I’m watching a sunrise that seems unspectacular when something tells me to wait for it and all glory breaks out. Sometimes a sunset is plain and then you look at the sky all around it in a panoramic view and that’s somehow where the color has gone. I like light through the trees, seasonal light changes, candlelight, starlight, moonlight.

Scripture is full of light images too, like it’s trying to tell us some truth we need to know. Do a Biblical word study on light and you will see. My favorite images are the ones that try to tell us about God’s light glory. Arise, shine; for the glory of God has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1 I love scripture about God’s radiance rubbing off on us like this blessing, May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you….Numbers 6:24. Read the 34th chapter of Exodus where Moses comes down the mountain after talking to God but doesn’t realize his face has changed because of God’s light.

Once upon a time, as a very young pastor working in a small west Texas town where female clergy were unheard of, I visited a local nursing home for the first time. I do not wear a clerical collar, carry a big Bible or wear giant crosses. Nothing about me says “pastor”. As I entered the facility there was a collection of residents dozing in wheelchairs near the door. One woman woke up when I entered and called me over. She said, “You are one of God’s pastors.” I was blown away. “How did you know that?” I asked. She said simply, “Your face is shining.”

Later, I was told she had dementia and not to make too much of what she said. I disregarded that advice and consider it to be one of the highest pastoral comments I’ve ever received. Twenty eight years later I remember everything about that encounter.

I don’t know the meaning of life. But I think it is about light. God is light and we are to reflect that. Whenever there is darkness we are to be light. Watch the light places and you will see God. Watch the light faces and you will see God. Watch what God does with light every day. Study it in nature and in scripture and in the ways people love each other. If life is confusing or hard or bewildering for you right now, my advice is to go toward the light. Look at it. Bask in it. Fill your heart with it. Do light affirming activities.

I’m clearly not good at plumbing, but light I can do.

Light in the Darkness

A couple of nights ago, it was cold and rainy here…and dark too.  Our family was snuggled up by the fire watching a Christmas special and making our holiday to-do lists.  Actually, it was more like a to-do chart.  Our doorbell rang and we looked at each other, startled.  It seemed too late for our daily package delivery but what else could it be?

It was Christmas carolers.  Carolers!  I’ve never had actual carolers at my actual door.  I’ve seen them on tv and in the movies or at the mall but not at my door.  They were young 20-somethings.  They sang a few songs, in the rain, and then one of them read some of the Christmas story from Luke’s gospel from his I-phone.  At one point, his I-phone dropped the scripture he was reading.  He floundered for a minute and then one of his buddies finished it by memory. “…for to you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  I thought I was going to weep right there from sheer delight, wonder and surprise.  They said a prayer for our family and were on their way.

Light.  You never know when or how it will come only that God promises it and promises to find a way to deliver it right where you are.  Imagine, carolers!