dark times hidden

The Wonder in the Rocky Places

1:09 PMHeather

After a long day, I settled into the comfort of my bed and grabbed my iPad to read for a few minutes before sleep came. 

I wasn't even two pages into the new book when I felt nearly overcome. 

Months ago, I had downloaded Sara Hagerty's new book Unseen: The Gift of being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed. The title alone spoke to me, in this era where constant digital connection seems to be leaving an epidemic of loneliness and discontentment in its wake.

I read the words slowly and thoughtfully, wanting to digest them as they hit a mark deep within me.

Sara's story felt like my own, as I'm beginning to rise up out of a dark and paralyzed place, which you can read about here. Sara talked about a season of feeling hidden, unseen, unnoticed. She described a lonely time of wrestling with purpose, while her life took some unexpected turns. 

Hidden indeed. The days I've spent tucked away in the safety of my home, watching myself free fall from the alone time that my introvert self requires to an unhealthy state of talking myself into just about any social setting. Or, on my worse days, fighting back the tears, keeping on the sunglasses to hide them, and leaving said settings to retreat. Again.

I'm now discovering that it's not until you begin to feel like yourself again that you realize how NOT yourself you've been.

Within the security of my bedroom, I began to linger longer with my Bible and prayer journal. I began to spend more time writing out prayers, or even saying them out loud, emphatically, and I think my dog began to question my sanity.

It felt a lot like my college years, where I often retreated in grief and depression following the death of my father. But, this time, I couldn't put my finger on an exact cause, other than a array of little ones that didn't seem to justify the way I was feeling inside. 

It was just a rocky place, feeling hidden away from the world, and unnoticed during a time of shifting relationships, seasons of life, and ministry opportunities. 

Day after day, the long morning hours in my chair, filling up prayer journals, became a habit. As I pressed into it, I realized that when other things fell away, I could see God more clearly. 

As Sara so eloquently states -- I began to lock eyes with God. I began to understand and relate to him in new ways while enjoying the luxury of time suddenly vacated by what had felt like lost opportunities. 

In the midst, it felt dark. It felt hard and desperate, even.

But as hindsight often reveals, I see the wonder in the rocky places.

 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.  Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Exodus 33:18 - 23

Like Moses. We are wandering in dark places -- lonely, and paralyzed. We feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

But God.

But God is actually tucking us away, in the cleft of the rock. When we struggle to feel him near and we feel our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, he is, in fact, hiding us away and covering us with his hand. 

We are waiting while nothing seems to be happening and no relief is in sight.

Yet, God is moving. For Aslan is ever on the move.

It's just that we can't always see or appreciate the glory being revealed until it has passed by. 

When we can't sense his presence, it just may be that it's because  the glory of him is too much to behold, until we are safely tucked away and hidden.

Rocky places become sacred places when we open our eyes to the wonder that may be passing right in front of us.

Noah. Ridiculed yet obedient. Then tucking he and his family away, during the dark and disastrous flood. 

But God. God brought them to dry land, gave them a rainbow promise, and did a whole new thing.

Jonah. Called but disobedient. Running away, then being tossed overboard during a storm. Then, hidden away for three days in the belly of a fish, he came face-to-face with the God who hears, answers, and delivers.

Jesus. Tucked away in a tomb, in the darkest places of death. Betrayed, denied, flogged, beaten, spit open, ridiculed, and killed.

That separation from the Father was endured by him so that we don't have to experience it.

The truth that the empty tomb proclaims is that there is wonder in the rocky places.  

Because the hidden and unseen seasons can become catalysts to the greatest revelations of God and his glory.

Oh, that we may let the dark places become seasons where we "take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed," Psalm 57:1. But, in order to hide ourselves in his shadow, we have to draw near to the Father. 

We have to dare to believe in faith that when the world seems to turn a blind eye to us, we can let that become a place where we are tucked away by our Heavenly Father so that we might discover the glory of him. 

And in our darkest circumstances, we aren't actually abandoned and alone, but we are being held and covered by our Deliverer who desires for us to train our eyes to behold the marvelous revelations of him.

For he loves us enough to shield us away sometimes, even within rocky places, so that we discover the wonder of him.

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