"Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!' John 8:58 ....."God Is!.....And that is all we really need to know." Rick Rigsby
There are places in our walk with Him that can be so dark, so terrifying, and so seemingly hopeless, that we can despair of anything ever changing. There's no light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, we can't even tell if we're in a tunnel. The days come and the days go, and the only thing we're sure of is that this day will be like the last day....filled with pain. The question that arises in our hearts in such places is always some form of "Father, where are You?" Neither our natural or spiritual senses can perceive Him. Yet in that place, the spirit of the enemy is only too happy to make his presence known. To our question of where is our Father, he readily answers, "He's nowhere to be found. He's abandoned you."
I've known that place, and more than once. The first time I walked through it was in the early months after the collapse of my marriage and ministry. I had just moved to a church campground in a small isolated area of Virginia. I had no other place to go, and I had no idea of what was to become of me. Fear, despair, hopelessness were my seemingly only companions. I was in the darkness, and I saw no way of ever coming out. Someone asked the question, "We preach the Gospel, but do we know it?" I had been preaching the Gospel for more than 5 years, now I was about to truly enter into the depths of its Truth. As Rigsby has said, "Your greatest growth comes in the places you don't want to be." I did not want to be where I was at, but I was being led into places where I would come to know Him in ways I would never have experienced in the sunshine. God is....and He is to me....and in the end, that is all I needed to know. It's amazing how much we come to "see" while we're in the darkness.
I'm blessed to have the friendship of three brothers who are fellow pastors and preachers. One of the brothers related to me the story of another of the brothers sharing at a retreat that it seemed like his ministry was one of being called to minister and pastor in the midst of chaos. Difficulties, challenges, need, we all face these, especially in ministry, but such seemed to be his constant companion. He spoke without complaint, and the witness of his life is that of one who discovers, day by day, even moment by moment, that God is, and in the midst of every question, threat, danger, and need, he continues to learn that in all of it, knowing that is enough. Chaos? Sometimes it seems to be the only constant in our lives, yet one of the translations of the creation account in Genesis is that "God hovered over the chaos." Out of that chaos, He brought beauty, order, and wonder. Chaos may be our lot, but He is there in the midst of it. God is, and there is no limit on the wonders He will bring out of the chaos if we simply hold on to the truth that He is...and that is enough.
I go back to that day when I first arrived at that campground. I was in a small cottage on an empty campground. A campground where two years earlier I'd been ordained. The mocking voice of the devil was everywhere, telling me I would never come back from this. Yet in response to it all, something of the truth spoken by Jesus sought to break through to me. Jesus said that before Abraham was, "I AM." He was. He is. And this truth would come to be shown more and more in the days, weeks, even years to follow. Before the worst I ever thought could happen to me did, Jesus Christ was. In the midst of that place. Jesus Christ was, and in the midst of all the places to follow, Jesus Christ is. Here in the twilight of my years, I continue to learn that truth. I continue to "know" more of the Gospel I've been preaching now for 35 years. In the midst of all of life's chaos, He is....and that is still all I, and you, need to know.