From: Amanda Bennett
For the past five months, praying and reading the Bible have felt like running on a broken leg. One morning in late July, God explained what I felt beginning: a classic dark night of the soul. I found myself under spiritual anesthesia, unable to pursue God in any of the practical ways that had felt so life-giving only weeks before, hoping that the darkness and silence was the place where I would meet God more deeply rather than a dead end brought about by spiritual laziness. I didn't know what to do except to sit very, very still on a patch of ground until the sun rose. During those five months, I wondered if I had waited long enough, if I had fallen asleep right before God sent me a memo that it was time to leave. Or if maybe this was all some reverse psychology test and I was supposed to prove I was a good Christian by taking up the search instead of waiting for some undefined dawn. When I was most prone to feeling like a failure, this little bit of Psalm 27 brought me assurance:
“You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. (Ps. 27.8-9a)
My instinct is to focus on “My heart says to you, 'Your face, O Lord, do I seek,'” since this sentence encapsulates so much of who I want to be. But in a season where my life with God didn't involve me doing much of anything, I found the most comfort in remembering that God has agency and God acts. It's easy for me to slip into seeing my spiritual life as a place where I demonstrate my extraordinary character, but the truth is that any desire I have for God is a miracle, a work of grace initiated by his voice saying to my heart, “Seek my face.” My ability to seek God perfectly can't force him into a relationship, but I can trust that the God who teaches my heart to long for him is also a God who reveals himself, a God who will not hide his face from me. The beginning and end of my search for God are only possible because of his desire for me to find him.
So, since there really wasn't much else to do, I waited in hope that God actually saves and actually reveals himself. I stayed on the patches of ground God offered to me: sitting in silence on Sundays before church, taking communion, listening to other people, and caring for children. Then, the first Sunday in Advent, at the outset of a season of reflecting on waiting in hope for our Savior to appear, I gasped as I found the words “the dawn of the soul” sitting inside my heart, a promise and a fulfillment. I sobbed. The horizon has lightened, and he has not hidden his face from us.
I have very long, very red, very curly hair. I live in Dorchester, and I've been introducing one of my housemates to the life-changing magic of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My room is filled with my friends' artwork and books I'm planning to read.