This was one of those gifts that I put away on a shelf and did not look at again for a long time. The meaning and thoughtfulness behind the gift was lost on me, mainly because I was too wrapped up in myself to even think about it. Also because I was resentful at my perfect sister with her great life and beautiful kids and church family. I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to hymns. Quiet time with God? I was usually too hung over (or drunk or high) to even know what time it was, let alone find time that didn’t revolve around me doing whatever I wanted to try and make myself feel good.
This dark time for me went on for a few years. And it got progressively worse, quickly. More alcohol, more drugs, more criminal friends, more terrible men, better drugs, self-pity and misery and overall spiritual bankruptcy abounded. Many of you have your own horror stories or know about other people’s, so I won’t burden you with mine. We’ll just say it was ugly.
I moved several times, figuring a new and better place to live would be the solution to my horrible choices. But there I was, and wherever I went, more bad choices came with me. Each time I moved, I took the Scatter the Darkness CD and book off of my bookshelf, packed it away, and then shoved it back in the corner of the bookshelf when I unpacked it later.
It began to haunt me. Why not just throw it away? This reminder of….of what? I didn’t even know, but it made me uncomfortable every time it crossed my mind.
On several different dark days when I found myself wishing things could change, I would pull out the book and CD. Sometimes I would listen to the songs, other times I would just read some lyrics. Sometimes this gave me great comfort, sometimes I hated it. Then back on the shelf it would go, hiding. Scatter the Darkness…
Five years later and my darkness has been scattered. I am no longer trying to escape God. It didn’t happen all at once. It took a treatment center for drugs and alcohol, more failed relationships, a lot of accountability to a lot of people, and a whole ton of spiritual reconstruction. Not to mention a lot of the seeds of God’s love planted by a lot of faithful people who loved me and love Him.
Yesterday I sat down in the quiet of the afternoon (during baby naptime) and listened to this CD. It is the perfect set of hymns for the Lenten season. Today it no longer haunts me or makes my stomach turn with the guilt which comes with living the wrong way. Today I am free, and not only do I get to sit and listen to music which comforts me and brings me closer to Jesus, but I also get to feel close to my dear sister who lives in another state and who I miss dearly. I get to reflect on my relationship with her and with many that I wreaked so much havoc on in my darker days. It is much better today, by God’s grace.
Yes, she was always there, that quiet voice reminding me of better things. And her gift of the Scatter the Darkness CD was always there, another quiet symbol of God’s drawing grace. Who would have known the important role this gift would play in my walk? These things were always there, pointing me to the Savior who was always there. I wonder where I would be without people in my life who were constantly telling me the truth, even when I wanted nothing to do with it?
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7) The truth is, I can’t, and I don’t want to. Pastor said on Sunday that God uses ordinary things for extraordinary purposes, and isn’t it true? God pursues us through all kinds of people and things. In my life, seeds were planted and now they grow.
I hope you are quieting yourself this Lenten season and seeking God’s face. As you reflect, I wonder, who is it you should be thanking Jesus for in your own life? Who has been your steady reminder of His goodness, who has been His servant planting seeds in your heart with words and gifts, wanted and unwanted? Who has pointed you to the Cross?
Dear Jesus, thank you for my sister, for the Scatter the Darkness CD, and for the people you have put in my life to plant seeds of your love in my heart. Thank you for everyone who prayed for me when I was living in the darkness, thank you for pursuing me and drawing me into your light. May I also be a faithful seed-planter to those who desperately need their darkness scattered.