Excerpt: Introduction to Out of the Darkness

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Art, Books, Christianity, Education, Encouragement, Faith, Family, History, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, News, Parenting, Photography, Politics, Quotes, Success, Travel, Uncategorized

Introduction

Alone in the Darkness

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that the darkness will spread over Egypt¾darkness that can be felt.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

– Exodus 10:21–23 (NIV)

Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.

– Job 23:17 (NIV)

I invite you to take this journey with me toward the discovery of a deeper understanding of the subject of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the illumination of scripture, along with personal insights revealed through childhood and adulthood experiences, I offer to those who sojourn with me through the pages of this book an opportunity to grow in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. I aspire to build up and strengthen the faith of those who, like me, desire to grow in the grace, truth, and knowledge of Jesus Christ and the assurance of what God teaches in His word on the subject of salvation. I pray that the eyes of your heart will be illuminated with His grace and truth through the revelation of Jesus Christ conveyed in this book.

Imagine yourself a child again, alone in your bedroom. You have said your prayers and have been tucked in and kissed good night. You have exchanged I love yous. It is nighttime, but sleep has failed to come to you. You remain awake, unable to drift away into slumber and rest. The house is now still and eerily quiet, and your room is dark. The warm, comforting feelings you felt a moment ago have been ushered away by shadows that creep along the walls, brought to life by the imagination of your mind and your fears of the dark. You now lie in your bed, paralyzed by the haunting, echoing thought that you are not alone in your room. “Someone is watching me,” you hear yourself say, and you ignore the gentle whisper within your heart that seeks to reassure you that there are no such things as ghosts or monsters.

The terror within your mind grips you like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey. You hear a deafening silence ringing in your ears. Your eyes search hopelessly within the darkness for the comfort and security of a familiar object that will release you from the sudden terror that has a stranglehold on your senses. Objects within the room appear to dance and shift within the shadows. You think to yourself that you should jump from under the covers and dash to the safety and security of your parent’s embrace. The weight of anxiety and fear of the dark presses you firmly against your bed, and every movement appears to last an eternity.

You want to cry out, but the terror you feel is not only inhibiting your ability to move but is also preventing you from crying out for help. Your tongue seems to have frozen to the insides of your mouth, and you are left motionless and speechless. You cannot cry out, but in your heart you scream and shriek with a sound that is as deafening as the silence that surrounds you. Unable to alert your parents to your distress, you begin to sense that the darkness within your room is now within you. It is a darkness that you can feel. Your imagination is now in overdrive, and it has convinced you that the darkness within your room is going to hurt you.

In your anxiety, you begin to wonder if this night will ever pass. Your eyes search the darkness for some point of reference that will bring you peace. Instead, you fixate on something that only heightens and increases your fear. The doorway to your bedroom closet is open!

Without warning, you feel as if you’re being pulled, against your will, into the closet. As this dark force pulls at you, your horror increases. You sense that you are outmatched in a grueling tug-of-war with the anxieties of your imagination, and the closet is winning.

Just as you are about to be consumed by your greatest fear, you realize that your tongue has loosened. What was first a silent siren of inner turmoil becomes the whimpering and mumbling of a child who is afraid of the dark. Your mutterings mimic the shrieks and cries you made when you rode the amusement park roller coaster. These sounds fall like feathers on the ears of the world outside your bedroom. You begin to notice that these meek sounds, though frail and faint, are strong enough to prevent you from being pulled through the closet doorway. With all the energy and strength you have, you summon the courage to cry aloud in the hope that you will be rescued from the fright that grips you. You shout! And then you shout even more loudly a second and a third time!

Suddenly the pull of the closet is chased away by the embrace of love! A flood of light engulfs your bedroom, shatters your fear of the darkness, and drives away the anxiety within you. You are blinded and startled by the light. Through squinting eyes, you can barely make out a face, but the soothing, gentle voice and the touch of compassion drive out worry and distress and replace them with comfort and peace. You are saved! Your weak cries of fear have brought rescue. Having the courage to cry out for help has delivered you into a loving embrace and has freed you from the anxiety of being consumed by your bedroom closet.

You rejoice, knowing you are safe, free, and loved. You don’t think about the reality of facing this experience again¾or the inevitability of the darkness coming back to torment you. Though you were momentarily troubled, you are tranquil in the embrace of love, trusting that you are safe and out of harm’s way. Before you know it, you drift off to sleep, and when your eyes open again, it is morning, and the darkness has given way to the light of dawn.

Your fear has subsided, and the bedroom glistens with the sun’s morning rays that break in through the windows. The light has transformed the ominous closet into a storage room filled with scrapbooks, toys, clothes, and shoes. You reach into your closet without hesitation to put on something to wear, intent on enjoying the day ahead of you.

If you’ve ever experienced the fear of being in the dark, then I am sure you can relate to the story I’ve invited you to envision. For some of you, this scene may be just as real today as it was when you were a child. Fear of the dark and of being consumed by my closet were among my own childhood experiences. In the process of writing this book, I reflected on those times. They remind me of my growing personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. They reflect God’s eternal gift of salvation made available through Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.

Within the pages of this book, I seek to share insights I have gained through God’s unfailing, unconditional love at work in me. This is my personal memoir and testimony of how He spoke the light of salvation into the darkness of my world and began His great work of creating the life of His Son in and through me. Since receiving salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, His words in Psalm 34 and 2 Timothy have provided me an escape from the darkness of this world.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all of my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NIV).

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).

Seven times in Psalm 34, the author exclaimed that God would provide deliverance from troubles, fears, and afflictions. In each instance, the author declared a personal pursuit of deliverance through seeking the Lord, crying out to Him, and demonstrating reverential fear or respect toward Him.

Do you have a personal closet of darkness that you fear will consume you? It may be a closet of addiction, abuse, adultery, promiscuity, guilt, shame, grief, fear, pride, or insecurity. We all face fears of being consumed by something within us or outside of us. The Lord lovingly entreats and invites us to look to Him, to call upon His name and cry out to Him so we can be delivered from the fears, afflictions, and troubles we face in the darkness of this world. God desires to liberate us from the past sins and failures that haunt us, to provide healing from the pain that torments our souls, and to stand at our side to strengthen us. It is God’s desire to equip, enable, and empower us to overcome and prevail against the troubles of life that threaten to steal our enjoyment, our prosperity, and our future hope.

God has become a great light for me in this dark world, helping me learn to overcome my personal closets of fear, abuse, abandonment, low-self esteem, isolation, and my soul’s yearning to be embraced, loved, affirmed, accepted, and valued. I am growing in this relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. The circumstantial darkness of this world¾along with the reality of the darkness within me because of sin¾drives me to desire that His love will draw me ever closer to Him. In His word, God invites me to see Him as my hiding place and refuge, which shelters me from the darkness that surrounds me.

After years of longing and seeking for what my soul understood love to be, I am learning to accept and receive love from the Lord, who promises to supply all my needs and to satisfy my desires with good things. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits¾who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles” (Psalm 103:2, 5 NIV). At one point as a young adult in my early walk with Christ, I remember a friend saying to me that, before I became a Christian, I always looked as if I was searching for something. Amazed, I replied to him, “Was it that obvious?”

Looking back, I realize that my soul was longing for and searching for God, because God is love. I have since learned that God is the only one who can love me in the way my soul longs and needs to be loved. The pain and torment associated with growing up in a fragmented family and with being sexually abused produced feelings of abandonment and isolation. The tragedy of a failed marriage continued the cycle of family dysfunction into my adulthood, which precipitated intense feelings of loneliness, grief, and haunting thoughts of a life filled with emptiness without love.

Out of the Darkness describes God’s personal call for me to walk away from the pain of the past, the torment of failure, sin and emptiness, and thoughts of a hopeless future. It was a call to trust Him, to believe that He has plans to help us prosper, plans for our good and not for evil, plans to give us hope and a future filled with promise and rejoicing!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile’” (Jeremiah 29:11–14 NIV).

You can purchase your copy today from the link on this site!

'Darkness should be embraced as a means to overcome it.'

 

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