These hard words from a dear friend have been murmuring and mumbling in a corner of my heart over the past weeks as I’ve held her up in my prayers. I have been doing some muttering too, asking God what He was thinking to allow her to walk through such a difficult stretch of the journey. I’ve been scrambling, wondering how to care, how to pray, how to walk with her on a path of serious anxiety/depression that seems wide enough for only one?
About the same time, I stumbled across an old poem/hymn with this title: Sometimes a Light Surprises.
It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.
Some of his secular works achieved literary fame, but when he combined his talents with his close friend John Newton, the result was the famous hymnal, Olney Hymns. The sixty seven poems he contributed to that work included well known favorites such as O for a Closer Walk with God and God Moves in a Mysterious Way.
But Sometimes a Light Surprises is the poem that has captured my thoughts in recent days. The title alone stirs up questions and retorts, as I ponder the hard, dark seasons of life.
Sometimes a light surprises…do you have to be watching for it...but then, it wouldn't be a surprise, right?
Sometimes a light surprises…but what about all the times when you just keep walking forward in the dark?
Sometimes a light surprises…do you have to be “singing” to trigger the surprise?
And then I experienced a surprising light.
It was (another bleak winter day, and it was) time for a walk...and past time; it’s been hard to will myself out the door lately. (So, for those of you who think I faithfully do this every day, no. It’s hit or miss, and it’s usually a struggle.)
I don’t mind walking on cold, clear blue sky days…but one bleak grey day after another? No thanks.
The kitchen was so warm...and cheerful.
I contemplated not even taking my camera; the day was colorless; dreary clouds smothered the valley.
I reached my turnaround point at the bridge, and headed home.
I wasn’t singing, but I might have been humming, and I was definitely about to be surprised by light.
I looked up.
and where had all that blueness come from?
And then I turned around.
The sky was on fire.
I realized getting home was going to take a while,
I didn’t see it coming.
I hadn’t earned it
or asked for it
or even been looking for it.
In fact, I almost missed it, walking fast east when the show was in the west.
Even on those sitting (or lying?) in the shadow of death were privy to the glory.
(And that’s when I decided I want to be buried in this cemetery, facing west…but that’s a different post.)
Even winter dead trees looked different in this light…
everything was transformed.
and thinking of my friend.
This has become my prayer for her:
…that light would sometimes surprise her in this dark season, that even in dark spots, a blaze of glory will shine forth.
...that she will realize she didn’t have to ask for it or do anything to make it happen.
...that she will see it – that when it’s coming she will be facing west, eyes wide open in surprise and wonder and maybe, just for a moment, joy.
...that she will experience a season, or at least some moments, of clear shining.
And that I will remember this truth during my own dark moments, dark seasons:
(and thank You.)