Call Me Lazarus

I’ve hunkered down in a dark place, where light is not only absent, but banned. The darkness is loved, almost worshiped, for it is a sanctuary in which to hole up and lick one’s wounds without fear of having even more inflicted upon you. God is unwelcome there, as are his phantasms of hope and love and tenderness and fidelity and all other mirages that slake one’s thirst with a mouthful of sand. Going there are those who flirt with a pistol to the head, whose veins flow with whiskey, whose child lies under six feet of soil, who curse the day of their birth, who spend every waking and sleeping hour playing and replaying the nightmares of their past. I’ve been to that dark place, and some of you reading this have, too. Maybe, in fact, you’re there now.

Today I stand in the light. There is one reason, and one reason only: because the God I once hated, never stopped loving me; the God I screamed at until my voice collapsed in on itself, never interrupted me; the God I damn well knew had become my worst enemy, never stopped being my compassionate Father. I blamed him for my sins, the sins of others, for just about everything wrong in my life. I did trust God, but I trusted that if I asked for a fish, he’d give me a snake; or if I asked for medicine, he’d give me poison. I was angry at heaven, at earth, and everything in between, for my life and my love and my hopes had all gone wrong, terribly, irreversibly, wrong.

But it was I who was wrong, terribly, but not irreversibly, wrong. I’m not here to tell you that God had some grand plan for my life, and I finally discovered it, and now everything is sweetness and light. I do still struggle with my past, and I probably always will, to an extent. The present is almost always charged a certain tax by the past.

What I will tell you is that, despite all evidence to the contrary, despite what you think and feel and imagine, God is indeed in that dark place. You don’t know it, but he’s licking your wounds, too. And he’s keeping the deeper, blacker darkness at bay. And he hears, on the other side of your angry screams, the cries of a hurting child begging for help, but not knowing how to ask for it.

Today I stand in the light, and—miracles of miracles!—this week a woman will stand beside me in that same light, to take my hand in her own, look into my eyes that once beheld only darkness, and tell me, before the witness of heaven and earth, that she will be my wife. I would have believed the blind would receive sight, the lame walk, and the deaf hear, before I would have believed that I should be so blessed as to be as happy as I now am.

But therein is the love of God revealed, a love that gives us gifts beyond anything we could imagine or comprehend. Why, O why, am I surprised, for if God did not spare his own Son, but lovingly gave him up for us all, how will he not, along with him, graciously give us all things?

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12 thoughts on “Call Me Lazarus

  1. Andrew Byars on said:

    Congratulations. and may you have many happy years walking in the light of the Lord.

  2. Michael Wilson, Evangelists' Lutheran, Kingsbury on said:

    From one enjoying 42 years of married bliss, your blessings are yet to come. Happy days to you both!

  3. Kathleen on said:

    So happy for you! I’ve been struggling with darkness similar to what you described, but my heart, mind and soul know what my emotions want to deny – that my faith is still alive and God is still God, and my Savior is still my Savior. Your message is His gift to me today. God bless you and your wife-to-be with a strong and lasting love drawn from the love of the Bridegroom for His Church.

  4. Rev. Gerald Heinecke on said:

    The Lord bless your life together! And thank you for your continual service to the Church.

  5. Thank you for sharing your writing gift. I am sorry you had to endure such dakrness but am so thankful Christ has brought you through. God’s richest blessings in Christ to you and your fiancee as you enter into his great institution!

  6. Sam Pakan on said:

    What a wonderful resurrection story! I am rejoicing with you, a bit belatedly, as I missed this post. My heartfelt prayers go with you for a wonderful new life blessed of God. Not everyone knows the darkness you wrote about, but your embracing of the light is an inspiration for many of us that have known it. God’s best to both of you!

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