“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” – –Romans 8:23-27
Not long ago I entered a chapel completely lit with candles. I’d come in from the daylight so even though candles were all over the place it appeared very, very dark. It stayed that way for quite a while. It was a chapel new to me, so I didn’t know it. Evening Prayers were being sung responsively by a duet; a soprano and baritone. The words encased the 40 or so of us in the darkness. After some twenty minutes I could see clearly. All that was in there…was there the entire time, of course. It’s just we couldn’t see it clearly until we had been still in His presence. At one point I prayed, “Lord, help me adjust to this darkness.” A few minutes later I noticed how beautiful the room was now that I was adjusted to His light in this space. The entire room was radiant with the light. I could see the faces of others clearly now.
You know, I think this is not unlike what Paul was trying to share with the early church. He was encouraging them, and us, to hold on to our faith. A week or so later I found myself seated on the plane next to a 30 yr. old and we chatted some. He asked about my work and I his. He didn’t have the job he really wanted. Then I asked: “If you could do whatever you wanted in life, what would that be? What would bring you joy?” Immediately the frustration took over his composure. “I keep asking that and NOTHING happens. I just keep asking the good Lord for a light and I don’t get a thing.” How conversations similar to this have started to flood my days these last several months is simply amazing. These words from Paul came back to me in that moment. I told him about the darkness I experienced in the chapel a couple of weeks earlier and how just because it appeared to be dark it didn’t mean God wasn’t at work there amidst the darkness. He glanced up for a minute and nodded with the epiphany. I said: “Perhaps God’s timing is rarely what we would like or expect. So, sometimes we sit in the dark and be still while He works. As we wait patiently, the place eventually lights up like it did for me that night in the chapel. From the darkness I began to see things clearly in a new light that was there all along.”
I think it’s in those moments in our lives when we are weak or feeling like there is no direction that the “Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with” … catch this… “sighs too deep for words.” Think about that for a minute: “Sighs too deep for words;” sighs from the Holy Spirit herself. I wonder when She sees such in us if the plea “How long oh Lord” falls from her lips in a deep sigh. How long will it be before we simply turn to him in complete surrender? It’s when that surrender happens in a life what comes is more than one could hope or imagine. We just have to be patient. What counts is we step out and wait it out in faith.
That approach gives wishful thinking new light indeed.
Tending the vineyard,