The Darkness Will Not Be Dark

From James:

The other day, I saw So Young sitting at the piano, her face right up to the sheet music, trying to learn a new song. You have to understand that So Young doesn’t really play the piano. She took lessons as a kid, but she didn’t stick with it. Still, she is musical and plays the violin and guitar, so she can read music and has somehow retained just enough knowledge to attempt to play the piano once in a while. But she can barely see the sheet music now.

So she is sitting there, straining to read the notes to a song she’s never played on an instrument she doesn’t know that well. She’s playing slowly. Her fingers are on the wrong keys at first, and it doesn’t sound that great, so my immediate thought is, “She can’t do that. Why is she trying to do something she can’t do?”

I had to stop myself.

It occurred to me that she was doing exactly what she should be doing, and exactly what all of us should do. Like in so many other situations right now, she was doing more than what seemed possible and realistic, more than what was reasonable or expected.

Here’s a lady who can barely eat right now (a new development — she has lost her appetite), can barely get out of bed, but then goes out and runs a very slow 2 or 4 or 6 miles or more, straining against fatigue with “heavy legs,” training for a race that’s going to take place three months after radiation for a brain tumor. Here’s a lady who still cooks meals for the entire family, even though she needs help to measure ingredients and determine if the meat is fully cooked. (We eat sushi every night — intentionally it or not! That’s a joke.)

Last night she said that she has learned something about herself. Before all this, she was working hard on her own, pushing herself because she had something to prove — something about how she was strong enough, capable enough to handle life. She could do it on her own. Now she knows she can’t. Without a doubt, she says, she is running far beyond herself, and He is there with her.

Psalm 139:7-12 says:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

(I recommend reading the entire psalm. It’s worth it!)

Audrey "Playing" the Piano, 2005

Audrey “Playing” the Piano in 2005

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6 Responses

  1. hello gage family!
    catching up on your blog this saturday afternoon & as usual am blessed & challenged…it’s always so refreshing & renews my perspective…thank you for being diligent in posting & sharing your lives w/ us so openly…it is sooooo appreciated!

    press on family…He is faithful… i know you are experiencing this so much!

    love to the gage’s,
    hayong for the morris bunch = )

    • We received your card yesterday, and now this note today. We also received a meal today from Helen that you set up. You are a great blessing and gift to us. We love you guys!

      The Gage Girls and James

  2. Hi Guys.
    Thanks for the post and continuing to be faithfully transparent in sharing your journey into terra incognita.

    I wanted to share with you King David’s other Psalm about “with God’s power I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18: 29b), but then i started reflecting on a time when all I could hang onto was the phrase:
    “I will give you the treasures of darkness…” (Isaiah 45:3) and following:
    “And hidden wealth of secret places,
    So that you may know that it is I,
    The Lord, the God of Israel,
    who calls you by your name.”

    The only other place in the Bible the phrase “treasures of darkness” is used is in Job, first in a derogatory way by Zophar in chapter 20, then later in the middle of the book in a poem about “Where can wisdom be found? Not even in the deepest mines where gems are sought…”

    I went through a protracted period of intense grief & pain in my early 30’s, in some respects, known only to God, because everyone else could not understand. It scared my kids, that is for sure, and for their sake, I sought the best of professional help, kept working, brushed my teeth & hair, & did not pack my bags & move to Brazil. I talked to God constantly & He was not uncommunicative towards me. I was studying Hebrew and Old Testament Wisdom literature at a local seminary, pelting the professor with questions that would cross a rabbi’s eyes (as Tevya put it in “Fiddler on the Roof”).

    My early life left no doubt that evil exists & like Martin Luther said, we are no match for it. I was afraid to believe in goodness or a goodness that cared about me & even once I got the message that Christ was inviting me into relationship with Him as a living smart, concerned superior being… it has not been floating around on a puffy cloud….

    So I went through this long, long period where I was promised “the treasures of darkness” which I figured had something to do with sanity and also the white stone that Christ gives us with a name on it that only He & each one of us can understand (Rev. 2:17). Since Mike, my husband & i were taught as “baby Christians” to read through our Bibles every year as a safeguard against slipping away back “into the world”, it didn’t take long until I got to Isaiah 50:10 and following, which also seemed “spot on”.
    “Who is among you that fears the Lord,
    that obeys the voice of His servant
    and rely on his God.
    Behold, all of you who kindle a fire,
    Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
    Walk in the light of your fire
    And among the brands you have set ablaze.
    This you will have from My hand:
    You will lie down in torment.”

    Which I took to mean, His ways are not our ways, He is God, I am not (Isaiah 55), you can’t rush perfection, I wouldn’t know perfection if it came up & shook my hand, We walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7)… so many things…. I learned to fume & carry on at Christ, to take a page in my journal & draw a line down the middle of it it everyday. The left column heading was “Easy to Give Thanks For”. The right column heading was “Hard to Give Thanks For” which was polite for “you have got to be kidding me if you think I am grateful for this….”. I was calling Christ on “In everything give thanks (Philippians 4:6). I would not let myself sleep until both sides of the page were full. At first it was far easier to fill the right column than the left. But like a leprauchan or the 6 foot tall rabbit in the movie “Harvey”, Christ had a habit of making things that had been on my “Hard to Give Thanks For” list show up on the “Easy to Give Thanks For” side amazingly quickly and improbably. I told Him to quit messing with me & He better not stop doing it if I quit keeping the journal…
    But it has just gotten better and better.

    So it goes.

    I love you guys,

    Ellen

    • If I had a journal, your name would be in the left column. What you have said is precious to me. You are precious to me.

      Love,

      So Young

      • The Psalms say that God saves even our tears in a flask. “Swell”, I used to think. “How about doing something about the injustice, dishonesty + other things that are breaking my heart?”

        What He gave me was this: the understanding that He prefers me mouthing off to Him to my continuing to misunderstand Him. Even sarcasm + anger will not impair communion with God in Christ, our great high priest (Hebrews 11 + 12). How many parents are willing to go to the mat like that for their kids?

        And I am still learning that what upsets me… God often actually agrees with me… More than I can comprehend… Jesus came to redeem Creation + it is still groaning like a woman in labor. It is just that my “sledge hammer” approach to problem solving is usually not subtle, pure, complex + a whole lot of other things (we are limited to 3 dimensions + time which can be thought of a type of shadowing of a 4th dimension that God moves freely in… ) enough to do the job… I liked the movie “Bruce Almighty”.

        So Young, you might want to pray about getting a close friend to “scribe” your thoughts since you can not journal + you probably do not want to use a dictaphone or learn Braille, although I consider those cool options as well. My friends + I started to learn Braille in 8th grade after we were exposed to Gibson’s play, “The Miracle Worker” about Annie Sullivan who was visually impaired, but brought Helen Keller from inability to communicate or apprehend the thoughts of others to Harvard scholar + I think, Nobel Prize winner..

        Love,
        Ellen

  3. James,

    I love hearing about all the new things you are learning about God and about one another through a difficult situation for anyone. However, God’s love and character are surely at the forefront of yours and So Young’s responses to the twist and turns of life. I am thoroughly encouraged in my soul every time I read of your courageous and humble trust in a loving and mighty Savior. Only through Him, can anything not so good, turn into good. It truly is a privilege to know and love your family.

    Please let SY know I am thinking of her and praying for her all the time.

    Blessings,

    Sandy

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