Shadowy Places

I don’t sleep well at night. I never have, really. I am intimately acquainted with the dark part of the morning because of this, the part where sleep won’t come and there is nothing but me and my thoughts and the seemingly endless impenetrable blackness of nightfall. The part where half the world is midway through sleeping and the other half is midway through the day’s life, that’s where I find my soul groping through the pitch-ness searching for stable walls and shuffling forward trying not to trip on loose oddities discarded on the bedroom floor. That is, too, where I have my most sacred of conversations with Jesus. Lately, I feel like I’m meeting him in the garden of Gethsemane just before he was forsaken by his people and went unwantingly willing to His death. That moment when God is face down in the earth of His own creation, waiting for the children of His own design to come and do as He knew they would…the moment when God the Son cried out in despair that He did not long to be taken down this path, that nothing inside of His humanity wanted to suffer and die an emotionally and physically tortured death? That is the moment when the day turns anew but the darkness lingers. That is the moment where I feel I most often exist. That moment of hoping and desiring and longing while grieving and surrendering. That one. The one when the new day has not yet seen the sun break in its brilliance over the horizon and flood over the darkness, casting its shadows behind us who face the light. That’s the one. That’s the place I often linger. The moment just before black begins to turn to grey because the dawn is coming.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult. Jesse started bi-weekly chemotherapy infusions, we folded back into the care of M.D. Anderson, so visits to hospitals are more frequent and scan results more terrifying because we know every test directs us more clearly toward a soon-coming third brain surgery. This time, because we have been doing this a long while, we are more intimately acquainted with the dangers and the fear and the vast array of unknowns that come after the human brain is tampered with by man’s hands. Our little ones are in varying degrees of grief. We’ve passed around illnesses. We lost another family member to sudden, unexpected death. Our friends have lost another longed for baby. Seizure medications continue to fail us. The shadowy places are plentiful.

But let me speak over you what I have learned to speak over myself…what I have come to understand about darkness and death.

Death is a shadow because Christ the Light stands looming before it, proclaiming victory to those who wander through the valley in pursuit of Him who shines brighter than the sun, driving out every spec of darkness, casting shadows behind those of us whose faces are turned toward Him. Only a shadow, this death. Only a shadow, this life.

We have few details to give right now in regards to what is next in Jesse’s fight. We know that more brain surgery is coming, and expect it to come quickly. We have no idea what the outcome of this surgery will be, though we know it is necessary to stop a portion of Jesse’s tumor from growing. We are struggling mightily. We are. We are face down in the dirt, breathing in the earthen ashes of those who have gone before us, and we are yearning for healing in a way I would never have understood was possible before all of this. How we long for the daylight to break through the darkness in which morning begins. How we long to see the shadows, the hazy reminders, that we can walk through this valley of the shadow of death with no fear. Do not fear the shadowy places, my beloved friends. They are simply a reminder that Eternal Light has already overcome this present darkness.

“the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16