A Dark Place

Recently, a series of bizarre events unfolded in my personal life and ministry which shook me to my core. Several events were explainable and the result of our broken humanity and fallen world. Several other events, however, were unexplainable, creepy, and downright unnerving.

As the explainable and unexplainable came crashing into my life simultaneously over several days, I found myself disoriented, deeply shaken, and in a place of hopelessness and despair.

This was a place where I had never been before—a very dark place.

I am typically cautious to spiritualize events in my life; however, I recognize blatant spiritual attack when it happens.

The darkness and despair which engulfed me were absolute markers of the enemy. Christ reveals the mission of the enemy is simple: to kill— to steal—to destroy. On the heels of declaring the enemy’s mission, Jesus in stark contrast reveals His mission: to give life—and to do so with great abundance. (John 10:10)

While in this dark place, I found myself drawn to the story of Jesus as He entered a boat and directed the disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. Several other small boats joined them. As they crossed the sea, Jesus lay down in the stern and fell into a deep sleep. As if on cue, a huge storm bursts the skies. Wind and waves pound the boat as it takes on water and begins to capsize. The disciples, in their fear, despair and facing certain death, observe Jesus…sound asleep.

Finally, the disciples could not stand it anymore. They awaken Jesus from his sleep. Standing over him, dripping wet, hanging on for dear life, fear filled—perhaps angry and with a hint of contempt bubbling out, they scream, “Teacher, don’t you CARE if we drown?” (Mark 4:38)

Don’t you care? Really? Was this their best shot?

The Creator of the universe was in THEIR boat. The Creator of the universe was experiencing THEIR storm. The Creator of the universe observed THEIR fear. The Creator of the universe gazed into THEIR eyes—eyes formed in His very own image.

Though their Creator was in THEIR boat with them, the disciples have the audacity to scream at their very Creator, “Don’t you care?”

Yet, as did the disciples, I found myself shouting aloud these very words, “Jesus, don’t you care?”

To stand in such a place in front of Jesus is to stand at a very dark place.

One can conclude this story is a test of faith—but from which kingdom did this test and storm come? The kingdom of darkness…or the kingdom of light?

Was not the enemy true to his mission, attempting to kill—steal—and destroy the disciples and even the Christ? When considering where they were sailing, under the very directive of Christ, they were instructed to go to the “other side.” To the godless, demonic region of the Gadarenes, where a naked man, filled with a thousand demons and living among the tombs, awaited their arrival.

To be sure, there was a spiritual battle and a spiritual test in this storm. The enemy was on point.

The enemy did what the enemy does: launch storms, create chaos, instill fear, and pounds relentlessly with wind and waves. Ultimately, this environment has capacity for faithful disciples to succumb to absolute despair, even while being obedient in what Jesus had asked of them.

We do well to be reminded, Jesus was in the boat with His disciples. Fully present. It is who Jesus is.

In the height of the storm, in the midst of the blatant attack, in this darkest of moments, Jesus arose and spoke but three words.

“Peace be still.”

Immediately the winds ceased and there was a great calm. It was not much of a battle.

However, the story continues: as they reached the “other side,” almost as if on cue, there awaited yet another test, another spiritual battle, another very dark place.

Jesus meets—Jesus speaks—Jesus sets free— a man filled with a thousand demons. Again, it was not much of a battle. With but a few words Jesus brings light to the spiritual darkness.

Jesus reigns. Jesus IS LORD!

We do well to be aware of the spiritual realities which surround us and to carefully “test the spirits” which come against us. (1 John 4:1). However, with great joy we can know and declare the resurrected Christ cares deeply, is WITH us and goes BEFORE us.

Indeed, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” (1John 4:4).

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep. No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:34-39 (NLT)