I remember heading into my “Dark Night of the Soul” at the age of 26. I knew the Lord was telling me that I needed a season of discipline and I could see the valley just ahead. I remember seeing the depth of darkness and the immaturity of my heart and knowing that I needed a time of cleansing. I had no idea at that time that it would be a fifteen-year valley. I specifically remember the Lord using Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “I Will Be Here” to announce the beginning of my season of discipline.
Tomorrow morning if you wake up,
And the sun does not appear, I will be here
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand, and have no fear, Cause I, I will be here
I will be here when you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind, I will listen and
I will be here when the laughter turns to cryin'
Through the winning, losing and tryin'
We'll be together 'cause I will be here
Tomorrow morning if you wake up,
And the future is unclear
I will be here
It was a few days after this announcement that God began to use a series of incredibly difficult circumstances to weed out the issues of my heart.
My heart obviously had some closets that needed to be cleaned out. I had some pride in places I didn’t even know existed. I had some deep seeded rebellion in my heart. I had some wounds that were so deep – I didn’t know if I would ever find the end of the pain.
I believed a plethora of lies. Some of them were lies about God. Others of them were lies about me. Nevertheless, these lies kept me separated from my Good Father.
Up to that time, I had thought of myself as a non-selfish person, but the valley reveals all kinds of hidden sins. I was completely selfish and self-centered. I wanted MY way. I wanted MY plan. I wanted MY life to go MY way… the easy way.
It is in the valley that we learn to regard His ways as higher than ours. We learn how tiny our plans are compared to His. It is in the valley that we get a tiny glimpse of the suffering that Jesus went through on our behalf. It is in the valley that we become ONE with Him. It is the place where we learn no matter what life throws at us that we say “It is well, with my soul.”
Don’t get me wrong – just walking through the valley won’t actually change you. You have to submit to the valley for it to have an effect on you. If you pout all the way through the “Dark Night of the Soul” – you won’t learn everything you should learn through it.
But if you accept the valley time as a time of discipline, it can become the most amazing and intimate time of your life with the Lord. The loneliness becomes aloneness.
The “Dark Night of the Soul” is hard. It’s painful. It’s even dehumanizing… but the point is not to actually dehumanize us. The point of the Dark Night is to strip us of our flesh in order to become His.
There is a pearl in the very difficult “Dark Night of the Soul.” There is a gaining through the losing. The pearl we gain is Jesus.
If you let the pain of the Dark Night forge you, the prize is that Jesus becomes your life.
If you waste your pain with fear or self-pity, you’ll still have to experience the pain without any prize at the end.
The Dark Night of the Soul is meant to be the place that Jesus actually conquers us… then He makes the most beautiful thing out of our lives. It’s the place where we learn to completely trust in His ways. We become willing to pay the same price Jesus did by carrying our cross without complaint. It’s the place where we learn to wait upon Him, the place where we learn to bleed for Him, the place where we learn to love – no matter what is thrown our way.
The Dark Night is the place where we gain authority to stand in the middle of the storm and command it to be still. It’s the place where we learn to BELIEVE God!
We learn what the words the “I AM” really mean.
We learn that the I AM can see us through anything. We learn that the I AM is sovereign over EVERYTHING. Nothing escapes Him. He is the God who sees! It is in this fire that we learn to keep our eyes on Him no matter what. We don’t turn to the right or the left no matter what is trying to seduce us off the path. We may fall but His grace picks us back up dusts us off and encourages us to keep going. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He helps us to carry our cross.
Some of you might be going through a really difficult valley and wondering why God has seemingly handed you over to Satan. Please hear this truth and take it to heart: Your loving Father has not so much handed you over to evil as much as He is revealing everything in you that is in agreement with the evil one. When we become dead to our flesh – truly dead – then Satan cannot touch us. This is the reason for the Valley (or Dark Night) that you are in… to completely rid you of your flesh.
God is using the “Dark Night of the Soul” to remove everything that is not from Him – because He loves you and wants to live in you!
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
THOSE WHO ARE IN THE REALM OF THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD! Let the discipline of the Lord do its work and cleanse you from your flesh. There is a reason for your valley!