This is midwinter for us Northern Hemispherites (or are we Hemispherians? Hemispherics? Hemispheroids?).
But this is not about those extra hours of nighttime we get due to the angle of the sun. It’s about a condition that can even apply to those who live on the Equator, where daylight hours are pretty much constant throughout all 12 months.
It’s about another kind of darkness . . .
. . . not about what’s called the “Dark night of the soul,” in which a person finds them-self in a spiritual wasteland, filled with doubts.
. . . not about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a condition which hits some people during the dark days of little-or-no sunshine.
. . . and it's not about the blanket of darkness that tends to smother and depress every one of us each time we watch, hear or read the news—that daily, breathless blab of more and more of the horrific side of mankind.
This darkness is different. Regardless of the season, people all over the world really do have dark days—even dark years. Things go bad, and life can be hard. Believers are not exempt; we do not have a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. Life can just plain be difficult.
What I’m referring to, are the times that you and I wish would come to an end, or would never happen; seasons in life when you feel like everything is going badly for you. It could be because of a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one (or your job), poor health, a false accusation, debt, hopelessness or some other hurtful or crippling event.
Sadly, some folks seem to live most of their lives in that kind of darkness, seldom seeing much light or good in anything or anybody . . . stumbling murkily along without much hope.
Generally speaking, I’m an optimist. My glass is mostly full, most of the time. To use a fancy word, I tend to be pragmatic (which can be good or bad—commonsensical or hardheaded).
All my life, as each year came to an end, I would say to myself and others, “This year was better than last year.” But that’s not quite true; my life hasn’t always been rosy. There’ve been a couple of dark and hard seasons—and 2015 has been one of them
My first darkness was back when I was younger (more years ago than I care to tell you!). I was a newly-minted fighter pilot in the Air Force, hot to trot, thinking myself to be an ‘SHP’ (if you guess that means, ‘Super Hot Pilot,’ you’re fairly close).
Due to a Government political decision, suddenly there was an oversupply of pilots; plus I had a physical condition that caused me to hyperventilate and pass out at high altitude when wearing an oxygen mask. This not a good thing when you’re the only pilot. In short, I became expendable, along with many others. So I was jobless, desperate to fly airplanes, but right then, airlines were laying off hundreds of their pilots. Flying jobs were as scarce as wings on a toad.
On top of this, my five-year, mostly long-distance courtship of Donna had deteriorated to the point of virtual nothingness.
I was definitely down in the dumps of darkness. Where was Jesus in all this? Unconsidered, shoved aside.
But some good came out of those dreary months. I decided to serve as a volunteer in a Christian children’s camp for four months, during which time, I determined to overcome my embarrassing tobacco addiction. And did.
Finally, after a lot of disappointments, becoming pretty desperate, I landed a job as an Air Traffic Controller (definitely a second-best choice). But the darkness started to lift. And then—joy of all joys—a letter came in the mail (yes Virginia, once upon a time there was no internet and people wrote letters). ‘The letter’ was from Donna, saying something like, “Hey! Let’s get it on again.” I wish I’d kept that letter.
So, I went straight out and bought a ring, and we became engaged, to be married 12 months later. My first dark year had ended and I never thought I’d have another one.
But I was wrong. The second dark season has just concluded, a sickness issue. It started with fairly serious surgery in Singapore, followed by months of energy-less-ness plus motivation-less-ness, which seemed to me to add up to laziness. Towards the end of this dark time, I had more surgery—and things started to pick up.
Throughout this long, dark period, Donna laid down her own ministry, stayed home and was Jesus to me. I became her ministry. My three daughters and their families hovered around me. How good is that? After our breakfast, Donna and I prayed together, as is our custom, and for one full year, every single morning, we remembered the Lord with bread and wine. Is there healing in the cup? You won’t convince me not.
Toward the end of this last darkness, our son Pete suddenly died, followed quickly by my brother Ted (who had been in ill-health). These losses, I have written about before.
Surprisingly, and contrary to what you might think, from that point on, the darkness lifted, the shadows blew away and True Light broke through.
Had this been the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’? I know for sure that many prayed for me during that recent darkness, and ultimately, I believe that is a big reason I’m living in ‘lightness’ today.
Queen Elizabeth, in her Christmas message last month, quoted John 1:5 . . . “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
Jesus is that light—the light for us all. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble . . . He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God.'” [Ps 46:1,10]
Why did I tell you about my two darknesses? I believe it is to encourage you if you find yourself in dark days right now, to know that . . . there is hope, and His name is Jesus.
God is our truest comfort during dark days.
P.S. Just as we were about to send this to you, I was told of a YWAM family which has encountered bad days—in the extreme. They served, with their five children, in Asia for a number of years, recently returning to their homeland where among other things, they lead the children’s ministry at one of our inTouch Camps. The wife and mother was just diagnosed with some possible serious health issues; and if that wasn’t bad enough, a fire burned their house. Here is a family in dire hard times, badly in need of the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of friends.
Two from C.S. Lewis, plus a Few More
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
"The Christian does not think that God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us.”
God so wants us to love Him, and out of that love, to serve Him—and others. It's out of our intimacy with Him that comes our ministry—not out of our love for ministry. Donna Jordan
Despite our Christian origins, many citizens of our secular western society today, are like squatters living in a house without paying the rent. Jeff Fountain (edited slightly).
1. “If you can’t fix it with a hammer, it must be an electrical problem.”
2. “There are only two tools you need in life: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use Duct Tape.”
“Dear YWAM Family (past and present),
Next year’s YWAM Family Gathering in Kansas City will be completely different! If you feel you are part of the YWAM family, though you might be working in business or education or public service—or any of the spheres of influence—you are welcome.
Each of the social spheres will have their own breakouts within the larger event. The vision for transforming nations and societies was proclaimed many years ago. Now we are making a place at the table for all those who have that vision.
You will receive much more information about this event as the time draws nearer, but please save the date for now, and please pass this message on to anyone who might be interested.
Please plan to come: Sept 4-11, 2016, Kansas City, USA.
God bless you,
Many will remember Paula Kirby of Mercy Ships . . .
“Hey guys, you know how hectic our lives can be these days; so one cannot write to all the dear ones from days gone by. But be assured that I most certainly read eTouch and love your pithy insights, recollections and perspectives.
My life in Jesus was rocket-launched into new dimensions thanks to my YWAM days, my YWAM friends, our God-breathed YWAM teachings/teachers and our greenhouse community environments. Certainly, not always easy . . . oh, but what opportunities we had for growth, challenge, inspiration and healing. Am so grateful.
Thanks for the part YOU and your family played in those heady days.
Hugs and blessings, Paula.”
During the last month, the word entitlement keeps coming to my mind and heart. The dictionary says it’s a condition of having the right to have, or get something.
We feel or believe we deserve to be given something (special privileges), or we have the right to say what we want, when we want and to whom we want. That is very self-centered and the root of it is pride, not Kingdom living.
Entitlement can easily lead to moral devastation. For example, King David felt entitled to Bathsheba, his absent neighbor’s wife. [2 Sam 11] And there are many more examples in the Old Testament. But our King Jesus came and showed us how to live and how to die . . .
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! [Phil 2:5-6; Also read vs 1-8]
God gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud. [James 4:6]
If we have an attitude of entitlement, we become proud and lazy, expecting people to serve us, instead of us serving them. Jesus said, “The greatest in the Kingdom is the servant.” [Matt 20:24-28]
How does entitlement relate to you and me personally? We can presume we are entitled to something just because it seems right. So, it’s a heart issue.
People can believe they deserve special treatment because of their position, their possessions or even because of the nation or culture they are from.
These folks are usually quite capable of taking care of themselves, but expect others to do that for them. With this root of pride, anger can also come out through words or actions, their thinking being that they have every right to speak and do whatever they want, whenever they want, and to whomever they want.
After being in YWAM for almost 40 years, God is still working on my heart. And I’ve seen those who feel they are entitled to special treatment. They seem to think, “YWAM is fortunate to have me; I’ve got experience, ability, position (maybe even money!), so I should be entitled to that special treatment.
I don’t enjoy being around that kind of person; they are difficult to relate to because they are critical of others and judgmental. They became angry because they are not acknowledged.
I’ve seen those who have a servant’s heart: my husband, Loren Cunningham, Bruce Thompson being three who I have walked with for 40 years (Peter for 55 years). They never ask us to do something they wouldn’t do themselves, if they are able.
When it comes to giving, often those who give, feel they have continued entitlement via control, whether their gift is land, money or possessions. Once something is given in obedience to God, there is no more entitlement to it. It’s a gift! Given away!
For a personal example, after we’d been in YWAM a couple of years, God asked us to sell our house. That done, He said, “Give half the money to the Kona base and half to Mercy Ships.” This never gave us entitlement to a guest room (or cabin) at either!
When we give to God through a ministry (or to a person), we no longer have any entitlement to what was a GIFT. We’ve given it back to God, with ‘no strings attached.’ God sees our hearts and He is the one who rewards our obedience.
He is our King and we are to be Kingdom people, reflecting Him.
Love and Blessings,
Camp, Sighisoira, Romania: July 10th - 16th with Mariette Louw
Camp, Skjærgårdsheimen, Norway: July 25–30th. Speaker TBA
Camp, YWAM Champagne, France: July 31—Aug 6. Speaker Carl Tinnion, leader YWAM Western Europe.
For more details go to: http://www.intouchcamps.com
Family Gathering, Kansas City, USA: Sept 4-11 (See Boutique above)
Recently at a gathering of our leaders from around the world, Roy & Shirley Jones were honored for their role over the past 15 years in planning and leading inTouch Camps in Europe. They have recently moved to Sweden where they carry a leadership position at the Restenas base. They will continue the camp ministry on a more limited scale.
There’s a natural desire in all of us to know when Jesus will return. As well, too many people seem to be consumed by a fixation in knowing what’s going to happen in their personal lives, tomorrow, next week and during this new year.
I wish people would stop worrying and studying and ranting on about future events and the final destiny of us humans. There are so many opinions and personal interpretations of Scripture, many of which are pretty much forbidden fortune telling; followers of Jesus know that trying to predict the future is evil and dangerous. [Leviticus 19:31; Acts 16:16]
As well, under the banner of ‘Prophecy,’ personal, political, regional and national predictions are made, often publicly, which too frequently turn out to be false and without foundation. Does the non-prophet repent? Sadly, rarely.
Our Father in heaven, who loves each one of us completely, knows all—the past, the present and the future. One thing we can be sure of is that His only Son will return for us, His followers; but even that Son, who is Jesus, doesn’t know the time when His Father will send Him back to earth.
Can we just be comfortable in not knowing? And can we live as though it could well be another eon of time before we suddenly morph into the next phase of our eternal life?
And at the same time, be ready if He comes tomorrow.
Blessings present, and blessings future,
The Small Print
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building up, inspiring, refreshing, stimulating and the thought-provoking of the saints.
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YWAM Associates International is a ministry of Youth With A Mission
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