Light In the Darkness

The end-of-the-year holidays are tricky…that’s an understatement, it can be a roller coaster.  There’s lots of JOYful busyness…shopping; making crafts for gifts and decorating the home; baking and cooking for the season that shuns diets–feasts to feed family and friends, or to enjoy solo by video while practicing ‘social distancing’.

For many, especially since the Pandemic began, the holidays are shadowy alleys–if not dark dread-filled valleys.  Losses of family and friends; financial devastation; worries, anxiety, heartache and depression…and the wondering:  when will things get better?

“Bleak” is such a little, deceptively benign-sounding word…at least to my ears.  That’s probably because one of my best coping techniques is humor–it’s part of my Big Three:  Faith in God, Gratitude, Laughter.  So when I tell my best friend, “I’m in the Bleak”, she knows it usually means a quickly passing mood…perhaps something caused a wrinkle in my day but it’ll be okay.  I can often tweak my bleak a bit and be happy-skippy again.

But holiday bleak is a different animal altogether.  These days we need more resources (beyond financial) to manage for ourselves, and help others.  We need extra grace, patience, kindness, smiles (since we’re not supposed to hug right now), and a double measure of humor, faith and HOPE.  With shorter days, there’s more darkness…we need Huge LIGHT.

So I went wild, decorating for Christmas…I bought a dozen new strings of lights even though the old ones still worked, not taking a chance on “not enough” sparkle.  I got boxes of candles too, battery ones and some that emit a burning flame.

The best thing I do during darkening days is to soak up as much Light of Jesus as I can–He’s the Living Light of the World, darkness can NEVER extinguish His Light.

When I snapped this photo of my bedroom window–where I started my “let’s go lights!” project–the contrast was intriguing and reminded me of a favorite Bible passage.  It describes the Ninth Plague, Darkness.  Exodus 10:21-23, New King James Version:

“21Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, [b]darkness which may even be felt.” 22So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”

The first time I read this was long ago when I was Depressed All The Time, so the concept of ‘darkness that can be felt’ was very relatable.  That’s the way I felt…encompassed by DARK. 

But years later, having read it many times, I eventually caught the revelation in the last sentence, verse 23.  Imagine…it’s so dark no one can see one another, too dark to rise from their place for 3 days.  BUT, there’s supernatural light in the homes of God’s children (the Israelites)…not candles or lanterns, because otherwise everyone would have had light. 

It was light God provided only and specifically for the children of Israel.  It was a foreshadowing of the Light to come–JESUS.

If you’re suffering darkness this season, I understand, and I encourage you to reach out for Jesus–He’ll grab your hand, and His loving light will enfold you.  If you can, string up some colorful Christmas lights…and read the Good News, starting in the Book of Matthew where we meet all those folks who’ve been portrayed in a gazillion Christmas plays. 

See yourself in the story–it’s truly an adventure!  God came down, as Baby Jesus, to save us all from Eternal Darkness.  He came to have a personal love-relationship with each one of us!  He came as God’s gift of Grace and Peace, to give us Life Abundantly.  It’s a free gift–simply Believe and Receive HIM. 

And if you already know Him, maybe it’s time to light a candle and have an honest conversation…stop trying to be brave and saintly, just tell Him how you feel.  Trust me, He’s been there and He gets you…years ago He told me, “I don’t mind if you’re angry, just don’t shut me out–keep the communication flowing”.  When we talk, He listens…when we pray, He answers…sometimes in remarkable, miraculous ways.

May you be blessed, Rene

© Rene Barnabas, 2021 ~ All rights reserved.

Bible verses courtesy of biblehub.com

Sheltered In God’s Love

This is one of my favorite tree ornaments, a gift from a friend this year.  It’s a wonderful comfort to know we can find shelter in the Lord God wherever we are. 

The Holy Family made history sheltered in a barn and manger their first night.  Rough as it was, I believe they felt relief, sensing the warmth of eternal wings wrapped around them.  And I imagine it gave them courage for the long road ahead…step by step, day by day, continuing to listen for God’s voice…the same way I’m faith-walking.

This Christmas more folks than ever are sheltering in tents due to the pandemic and economic crisis. Beyond glad and grateful, I’m privileged to have a small apartment on the 2nd floor, which I call my Upper Room.

I pray that you are sheltered in the Lord God, that you feel the Father’s arms  surrounding you with His unfailing love.

Rene Barnabas

Amplified Bible
“Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:4

Amplified Bible
“For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings [where I am always protected] I sing for joy.” Psalm 63:7

New Living Translation
“How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7

Amplified Bible
“He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.” Psalm 91:4

Amplified Bible
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].” Psalm 91:1

Bible verses courtesy of biblehub.com

The Precious Gift

Of all the presents beneath my tree

Intangibles…those you can’t see

Are ones most treasured, cherished truly

The wealth in friendship proved, well-worn

Secrets shared and hard griefs borne

Laughter’s riches that lift us, warm 

But precious is best-ever gift, this:

My Savior, Jesus, Lord at birth

God Is With Us, Immanuel

Broke through Heav’n to save whole Earth

Brought Love and Light I’d never found

Small cries pierced dark, a splendor’d sound

Folks marvel, baby Prince of Peace!

For those with open hearts perceive

The Truth–He comes to heal, reveal

World’s calamitous sin; and reconciles

Orphans wandered from Creator-Father

He ransoms, sets God’s children free~

We believe, receive by faith His mercies

And precious Grace-gift which seals soul eternally

© Rene Barnabas, 2021 ~ All rights reserved.

With Every Step

With every step, at every turn

Your Word, Lord, guides so I may learn

Your character and higher ways

Your promises for all my days

Grace-manna, mercies carry me

True Heart of love holds tightly, hides me

Wasted worries skew view I see

Shadow grandeur of Your splendor

Dim eyes behold life’s ash and dust

Till wind chimes sing clear song, “Child, trust”

God’s faithfulness which never fails

His precious peace, hope e’er prevails…

You loved me first that I might know

 A damaged soul of granite stone

Can melt, like Spring’s last ling’ring snow

Revealing gem, God’s treasured own

© Rene Barnabas, 2021 ~ All rights reserved.

Had to Close My Eyes to See

Had to close my eyes to see

Treasures, Truth kept deep in heart

Written there by God’s sure hand

Thus He sealed me, set apart

Burning flame my marriage band

His endless love ne’er will depart…

Had to close my eyes, to see

©Rene Barnabas, 2021 ~ All rights reserved.

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