http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbG4KwjPEdE (This link is a perfect picture of what I believe God was trying to teach in me in my "Dark Night").
If you're just joining the conversation it would be a good idea to go back and read the blog before this for the sake of context, for the rest of us, I'll just jump right in.
In phase 1 of Losing My Religion I realized that God orchestrated the seasons of my life and that I could not often control my spiritual climate. The hardest part about all this for me was the waiting! My dry season lasted for more than eight years! Keep in mind that throughout all this I was still very active in ministry. I taught Bible studies, I co-lead a women's ministry, I was a missionary and I helped to plant a church. I did all this feeling about as much emotional connection to God as I felt towards a stranger on the street. I was tormented by thoughts that Christianity was a a big lie and I was the sucker that got dooped. At times I entertained ideas of divorcing my faith all together but, strangely, it was these thoughts that tethered me back in to God. The thought of leaving Him somehow tugged at a deep part of my heart that was irreversibly welded to Christ. Even though I felt incredibly far removed from Him the thought of abandoning my faith only proved to me that He was real and He was closer than I thought. My thoughts of apostasy, for some reason, evoked an even deeper sense of loyalty to Jesus. But the waiting was killing me! I wanted to know why my "Dark Night" was so long and why it hurt so much. I wanted to know the reason for it.
Sometimes the long wait proved to be too much for me and my sense of hope would run out. It was during these times that I wondered if I was a Christian at all. I thought that maybe I was destined for hell and that's why God was ignoring me. Again, it was in the lowest place that I learned the greatest lesson. I remember thinking "Even if I burn in hell for eternity it is still worth it to live my life for God". I realized then, at that moment, that I belonged to Him. He was stuck with me for good and better than that, He actually did love me. It was that love that tethered me in my many weak moments, and it's why I can understand, if only a little, Jobs statement "Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him". Part of the reason for my dark night was to begin to kill me. That is, to kill the parts of me that kept me from offering deep compassion to others, yet expecting comfort and consolation from God for myself. I am still very much in this process and still have a loooooong way to go. I have so many more thoughts on the subject, but I'll share this for now and hope you join me for phase 3 of Losing My Religion to be completed at some other insomniatic hour in the future. Peace. One last word though...
...a quick commercial for my favorite nun because her example helped me through this tough time!
If ever tempted to pity myself I think of Mother Teresa. She experienced her "Dark Night of the Soul" for forty years! This woman spent those years serving the poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick all with no sense of God's presence sustaining her. She writes in her journals of deep loneliness and aching for God's comfort in her life. As far as I know in what her journals record, she died with this feeling of emptiness. What amazing loyalty and devotion to God. Most others would've abandoned their posts or worse in the face of this kind of pain. But Mother Teresa waited, she waited and suffered loneliness and deep sadness. It has been said that God never wastes a tear and that all of our pain will be used for good in the end. I believe Mother Teresa is in heaven today reaping all the rewards of her loyalty. Glory to God.