By Thursday I could feel the palpable presence of something…it was an encroaching almost, seeping into the rooms, under the bed and truly into my own self. I mentioned off-hand to one of the women I was with, and she too could feel something crawling into our presence.
We’d been warned that there was a darkness in the city we were visiting, serving…a darkness that ran very rampant among the entire country. It was if the lights had been shut off and there wasn’t hope of ever getting it back, darkness was what you were left with.
By Saturday I was done for, what I was attempting to battle in my own strength had overtaken and my body/mind/heart were just spent. I was physically tired and spiritually spent. While sitting with a body of believers on a train rolling through the Italian countryside I was awash with so much despair. They were talking of the processing of this trip, the what next? for them, and I was simply not there for it.
This was my third mission journey over the last six years. I was prepared for the spiritual attacks, the busyness of prep that often invades time spent in relationship with Christ…what I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming sense of hopelessness I saw, felt and took on as the week progressed on mission. It’s hard to put it into words, and unless you’ve felt it, you really don’t understand it.
Friday night we walked through the bustling college town back to our hostel with one of our missionaries, and I was just struck with such heart-wrenching hurt for the people we saw (and those we didn’t). It was false joy and rushing to fill a hole only consumed by Christ…and I wondered if they would ever hear that. I wondered if they would ever know the true joy of hope in the midst of it all.
It took almost a month for me to process this encroaching darkness and see just how easily it can invade and ensnare us, even as a child of God. While I sat on that train listening to my other team members talk through next steps I couldn’t help but see the hopelessness we were leaving behind but also that we were stepping into even within our own lives back here at home. Areas where we choose fear, doubt and reliance upon the world to bring us joy and fulfillment rather than in Christ. That’s when I saw this out the window:
A reminder that Light gets in even in the far reaches, even in the darkest spots, bringing hope securely placed in Christ and not our own selves or the things of our own making. A reminder of His faithfulness and His work in us and in others. It’s a reminder of these words spoken and fully realized in every moment, no matter what darkness tries to tell us
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 (NIV)