“I’ve been looking for God and I found Him in the shadows, in the dark – where He’s needed most”

I’m one of those guys that grew up in the church and from an early age I was made aware that life had a spiritual side to it. My parents were pastors and loved people. They still do. They always encouraged me to pursue faith and to try to see God in everything. There is a very real reality however, that faith cannot be lived through the lens of somebody else’s soul. I’ve discovered that faith is something that is deeply personal. It is made real only by being tested.

A few years ago, I walked through one of the more significantly dark seasons in my life. 
I’m going to be honest with you; I struggled. 
Depression and anxiety consumed me as I tried to come to terms with a great loss of spiritual structure and community in my life. I can’t remember feeling more alone, confused, and let down.

Interestingly, when we build our identities on structures and ideals that are finite, we can find ourselves in pieces along with the rubble when our little empires collapse.

In the wake of my small world imploding, I made myself an island. 
I consistently got caught fighting a war with the thoughts in my own head. I was second guessing myself and the reasons why I believed in divine purpose. I was hurt and angry and I trusted nobody. I’d been burned by religion and my efforts to give and give and give had been rendered futile. 

My family was suffering, my mental and physical health was suffering, and I was lost. I felt like I’d been swallowed by the darkness and left in the shadowlands, being a shell of the person that I thought I was.
When that which I had loved and held tightly to was stripped away, I found myself alone.

We are surrounded by noise. The chaos and the drama of our circumstances scream out for our attention. They want every part of us and their pursuit to consume us is relentless. 
In our attempt to escape, how often do we find ourselves seeking refuge from a different source of noise? 
We try to remove ourselves from chaos by opting for a different type of chaos. It’s exhausting and damaging to our souls. Have we become scared of silence? Honestly, a part of me was terrified of it and sometimes I still am.

The silence beckons us to surrender and to listen. In the silence, we give room for God to speak, to be heard and to be found.

There is an interesting parallel that runs between suffering and finding God. In our suffering we are bought to a place where we look beyond ourselves. I internalised grief and anger for the better part of a year, and it was crippling to me and my family. I was struggling to be the husband, father, and man that I wanted to be. While I was becoming increasingly isolated, so too was I rapidly spiraling within myself. I couldn’t go on carrying the weight of my brokenness and my pain. 
While I still had so many unanswered questions, frustrations and so much hurt, I came to a point of realisation that I didn’t know how to deal with any of it. I was fighting blind and was bought to the end of myself. 

“I hate that I don’t understand and that all I feel is rage! Oh God if this is the shadowlands, be near me.
I hate that I don’t understand or see the purpose to this pain. Oh God if this is the shadowlands, be near me”

My inability to drag myself out of the dark did not result from some mystical and sudden transformation by a higher power. Neither did I experience any form of dramatic enlightenment of self. Instead, I began a long journey towards slowly beginning to understand wholeness. This journey was birthed out of a recognition that I was lost and needed to be found.
In the silence and in the shadows, I went looking for God and He found me.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…

My conviction from an early age was that there is a God. This was not lost in my grief. In a primary sense, neither was it swayed as I began to wrestle with my suspicion of both religion and my dependance on it.
What I realise now is that my perspectives, my understanding, and the way that I viewed life both in the spiritual and the physical was being deeply challenged. The way that I viewed God was being changed. At the time, all I saw was shadow, darkness and uncertainty and yet it was there that God met me. He was waiting where I needed Him most.

At the time I had more baggage than I care to admit. As I continued my journey into the shadowlands, I was aware that I was broken, resentful and if I’m honest, I was unwilling to forgive. 
I had so much to work through and much of the valley ahead of me and yet somehow, amid it all I knew that I was no longer alone.

God saw me and had promised to be near me.

My friend – If you have read this far, please know that you are not alone. These are the shadowlands we are passing through and there is no darkness that is dark enough where God cannot find you too.

Keep moving – Cal.