Hope in the Dark
Eyes wide open, but light remains elusive. A jumbled mix of synaptic communication ensues. Two structures refuse to do their job. Tasked with the simple, yet infinitely complex process of piecing together a spatial representation of one’s surroundings, the eyes hold the keys to the outside world. However, on this day, in this moment, those two radiant almonds refuse to communicate. From this lonely, dark reality, the canary searches deep within for its sweetest song. Air bellows through the syrinx, enlivening the surrounding room. In this perceived audience of one, the canary sings its most beautiful song. From the solitary canary comes a melody that can only be found in the lonely darkness.
Yes, I write this in the midst of winter when seedtime and harvest are distant inclinations. However, think with me for a moment about the process of sowing. A farmer takes a plot of land and tills it into long, furrowed ruts. What once may have been a picturesque grassy hillside now lays covered in deep, mud-covered lacerations. The earth has been torn with the promise of the seed in mind and at this point, the seed is buried in those long grooves. A picture quickly becomes clear — it is only in the cool, darkness of the soil that the potential of the seed is harnessed. As time progresses, the seed grows and finally pushes through the veil of the soil. The dark shroud of the soil actives the seed.
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So, let’s begin to tie this together. Many years ago, during the era of Ladies and Gentlemen, it was a social norm to have birds in one’s home to bask the long corridors with melodious chirping. The canary was prized for its harmonious tune; however, the canary would quickly become distracted with the motions of the home and its song was inconsistent. But noblemen quickly discovered that a blind canary was not impeded by these diversions, and so the practice of intentionally blinding the canary was set into effect. The practice led to a realization — in comparison to others, the blind canary always sings the sweetest song.
Just like the canary, whose latent beauty is cast into the light in the midst of life’s darkness, the seed too grows during the dark times. Take a seed, and all of its promise, and lay it on your desk. That seed will sit there, imprisoning a promise within that meager shell for years. There lies a tree deep within that seed, but it is held in bondage. Too often we take the promises we have been given, the powerful words that we have received, and hang them on dusty walls instead of burying them in active service.
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Now that some context has been established, let me begin by simply saying that I am prophesying 2017 to be a year of completion — a year of harvest. For those of you who know me well, I do not say that carelessly (I have never made such a statement in all of my blog posts). Yet, during my personal times of writing, mediating, and praying about the year ahead, I find myself peering into the new year with a sense of expectancy.
Yes, I totally understand that what I am saying is somewhat vague and a bit of a generalization. Broad terms like completion and harvest certainly can fit the mold of any number of ideas; however, my point is not to minimize the Word that I believe God has given me. Just like myself, when you read through this, there is a specific area of your life that comes to mind when you think of completion — have faith for that!
For both many of my friends and myself, 2016 posed numerous challenges and dark moments. Yet, as I look back through those days, I find Paul echoing in my ears, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, English Standard Version). 2016 may have not been the year wherein God ordained to unfold certain promises you hold onto, but keep pressing forward, because the day is coming.
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, he portrays a father who anxiously anticipates the return of his son (Luke 15:20). I think through the unpainted details of the story and find a father who enjoys his morning coffee every day while perched on the front porch. Every morning, right before he walks out to the field, he turns one more time in hopeful longing to the long lane in search for a dim silhouette. The methodical routine becomes habitual, until one morning the gaze peers past the flickering glassy heat and connects with a shadow. No doubt the fading figure had been seen by many of the helping hands in the field previously. Their eyes could not see past the vestige of a hopeless vagabond, but the eyes of a father saw past the rags and recognized a son — his son.
On the flip side, we find Saul crisscrossing the countryside to rid his faith of a radical new cult. His holy mission has sent him to Damascus to locate and arrest members of the fanatical sect. However, somewhere out on the expanse of the boiling desert Saul was jolted from his camel by a light so bright it darkened his sight. It was in the lonely darkness of the next three days that Saul found a spark that would shake the world (Acts 17:6).
To sum this all up, as we look forward to the next year, allow me to remind you that whether you find yourself in the hopeful anticipation of the prodigal’s father or in the tumbling darkness of Saul — God’s hand is sure. From the lonely darkness of the cage, the song of the canary whiffs through the home. From the solitary pressure of the soil, the oak tree breaks through the cloak to stand in stoic dependence. Before us stand 365 sunrises with potential — 365 sunsets. The pages of time will turn in rapid succession, but the embers of my faith glow in expectancy. 2017 will be a year of completion and harvest, but enduring questions remain:
What work has God begun in your life that is not yet complete?
What do you have faith to see done personally in 2017?
What promises have you given up hope on?