While The World Is Getting Darker

We hadn’t gone far into the very, very long bike tunnel when the inky blackness started closing in. It hit me first. My husband was ahead of me, although I could only hear the muted sound of his footsteps crunching on the gravel beneath his feet. We had heeded the sign entering the tunnel: “Walk bikes through this tunnel.” Now we were glad we had. The other end of the tunnel was a pin prick of guiding light. In a flash, it suddenly disappeared without warning, leaving us disoriented and confused. Unbeknownst to us at the time, a cloud cover above had cast a shadow, hiding the small visual of light. Now, halfway through the tunnel,  I began to panic. As I lifted up my hand an inch from my eyes, I saw nothing but darkness. A quick look to the rear gave no hope either. The tunnel entrance had all but disappeared in an instant. Fear set in.

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Never in my life have I experienced anything as unnerving.  The sound of dripping water eerily plunked overhead. I stumbled into my bike and then into my husband as the darkness enveloped us: front, back, head, feet, left and right. I felt as if I was going to topple over

We stopped. Since we were literally blind to our options, we had to. We had arrived at a decision point. What do we do next? Go forward and try to get to the light, or retrace our steps and attempt to get back to where we had started? Our voices reverberated down the tunnel. The sound was taunting as it returned, intensified as the echo bounced around on the rocky surfaces.

Lost my way
Have you ever found yourself in a spot like this during a tough time in life? Things are closing in on you. You don’t know what to do or which way to go. You stop. You call out, and no one answers but your own frightened voice. You do not know what to do next. Your heart starts to pound from fear and your mind becomes paralyzed with doubt.

If you answered no, then all I have to say to you is, get ready. At some point in life you will find yourself here. If you answered yes, then you can identify with the feeling I have just described. What if someone you love is suddenly taken from you? Perhaps your child is deathly ill, or has made a life-altering decision you cannot fix. What do you do? Sadly, the unthinkable things in this life happen to real people, just like you and me.

In my moments of despair, indecision, sadness or trauma, while the world seems to be getting darker and darker, I often feel as if I have lost my way. Thankfully, I know there has always been a bright light alongside me, too. This light is a constant and will never fade. It's God’s love for me (and for you) in Christ.

Like the inky blackness that engulfed us in the tunnel that day, the love God has for his people is all-encompassing. Unlike a darkness causing fear, God's love wraps us in a blanket of comfort and hope. In the tunnel of despair, God’s love is wider than my doubt, longer than my fear, higher than my hopes and deeper than my sorrow. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul reminds us of this amazing love.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17b-19

Lessons learned
After we stopped and debated what to do, the sun must have come out, because all of a sudden the pinprick of light returned. Even though progress was slow at first, we walked our bikes toward the tiny aura of brightness. No longer afraid, I began to sing hymns out of sheer joy at being rescued. The pin prick became a dime, then a nickel, then a quarter. Finally we could speed up and quickly put the darkness behind us. Thank you, Lord!

The practical lesson learned? Bring a flashlight! The spiritual lesson learned is so much more important: when in doubt and darkness, never forget how unshakable God’s love for you in Christ has been and forever will be. In dark times, stop and remember what Jesus says.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

By the way, if you want to have the same thrill of biking through these tunnels in Wisconsin, search for the Elroy-Sparta trails. Over one hundred years ago three railroad tunnels were hand-hewn through solid rock, ranging from 1,694 to 3,810 feet long. They were completed in 1873 after one and a half years of digging. For 90 years they served as a thorough-fare, shipping cattle and goods from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and back again. In 1971 the rails were turned into recreational trails and since then have been enjoyed by hikers and bikers.

Oh, and one more thing. Do remember your flashlight. It will make the trip much less scary!

Confession & Fasting (Part 2) // A Lenten Bible Study

F R E S H S T A R T  

At bedtime our kids have a night light in their room to help them sleep. It brings them comfort. It makes them feel safe. If they wake up in the night for whatever reason they can see where they are going.

When I was eight years old I watched a scary movie and it shook me so much that afterwards I went through a phase where I would turn on all the lights in my bedroom just so I could fall asleep without fear.

Some adults are still afraid of the dark.

But let's ask ourselves this... What does it mean when we are afraid of the light? 

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The last two weeks our bible studies have taken a closer look at our sin and need for Jesus. We have spent time confessing our sins reading Isaiah 59. You will notice Isaiah 59 gets more personal when we switch the words you with me. Join me in praying it below.

Dear Lord,

So justice is far from me     and righteousness does not reach me I look for light, but all is darkness;     for brightness, but I walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind I grope along the wall,     feeling my way like people without eyes. At midday I stumble as if it were twilight;     among the strong, I am like the dead. 11  I growl like bears;     I moan mournfully like doves. I look for justice, but find none;     for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For my offenses are many in your sight,     and my sins testify against me. My offenses are ever with me,     and I acknowledge my iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,     turning my back on my God, inciting revolt and oppression,     uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back,     and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets,     honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found,     and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

In Jesus name, forgive us and hear our prayer, Lord. Amen.

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I am grateful that you are joining me during this season of Lent in God's Word.

Click here to print off this weeks bible study!

Week One - Fake Fasting Week Two - True Fasting Week Three/Four - Satisfied Fasting Week Five - Confession & Fasting Part One Week Six - Confession & Fasting Part Two

If you want to be a part of the bible study I highly recommend being a part of the Facebook group where we get to know you more and be mutually encouraged in God's Word throughout the week! The Facebook group is private so any information that you share will be seen only by those allowed in the group.

Click here to join our private online bible study Facebook page and the chatter!

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Look for the Light

"Where did you see His light today?" This is a question our Pastor gently asks when one is going through very tough times.

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When I read the book of Job I think, "What faith! I want to be like Job regardless of what happens in my life. Even if ...

  • all the "stuff" that makes up my home is damaged
  • emergency savings and finances down the drain
  • entire home is gone
  • long invested career is in shambles
  • children are killed
  • friends and spouse make me doubt my faith and God
  • my body is pressed and worn from all sides deteriorating
  • my logic reasons that my God has abandoned me

Satan wants temptation and suffering to happen to us for one reason - to weaken our faith to the point that it separates us from our God. Forever. Satan knows our dearest treasures and starts there to trip us up.

God allows temptation and suffering to happen to us for one reason - to strengthen our faith to the point that it unifies us to Himself in His suffering AND His glory.

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name! John 12:27-28

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God allows temptations but doesn't leave us alone to battle them. We can bear the temptation because He is with us. Look for the Light.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

God allows suffering. Sometimes even to the point where we CANNOT handle it! Why? This is where He steps in and overcomes the suffering for us. We have no words except - "That could have happened only by the hand of the LORD!" Look for the Light.

Do I think Job was tempted to curse God like his wife "advised" him? Do you think he doubted his faith was good enough when his closest "friends" questioned it? Do you think Job was tempted to put the blame for his children's death on his own head as if it were a punishment from God? YES! But look at the passage above again. Do you see it? GOD IS FAITHFUL.

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When we are in the dark zone of spiritual, emotional, or physical war in our lives, remember Job's story. And most importantly - God is faithful.

When we feel alone - don't trust those feelings! trust God's promises! - we aren't alone. God is right there with us. Hebrews 13:5

God may choose to show us His light in a variety of ways. Perhaps it is through the comfort of a friend, a song that brings peace to your anxious thoughts, a gesture of kindness such as a dinner brought to you, a generous check appears in your mailbox, a sunset that leaves you in awe of God's creation, the stunned doctors whose diagnosis was reversed... and other ways that I can not limit Him to a list. However, we know we can find His light in His Word always. Many of the psalms relate to the soul crying out to the Lord and his faithfulness. Psalm 77:1-20

And when God wills that our time is done in this foreign world. Take heart! Jesus has overcome temptation completely. He has overcome suffering even to the point of death - completely forsaken by His Father. Jesus has overcome this world! John 16:33

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Be encouraged, friends. Even in the face of darkness there is light. Jesus is the light. John 8:12

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:32-39

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