The Bare Soul - June 21, 2009
Growth in Darkness

Zephaniah 2:6 - So the seacoast will be pastures, with caves for shepherds and folds for flocks.

Recently, my wife and I visited the largest cave in the western hemisphere, Carlsbad Caverns. Although I had last visited the cave 15 years ago, this was my wife's first time to this subterranean national park. It's quite remarkable as you enter the natural entrance which is a huge gaping hole in the southeastern New Mexico landscape. One might feel as though the mountain side had actually opened its mouth as one wound down, down, down into the belly of this cavernous behemoth. After just a short descent, all natural light from the entrance fades as lights along the pathway illumine one's way. The journey continues as spelunkers descends a total of 750 feet and 1.25 miles to arrive at the "Big Room", a large expanse where several football fields could comfortably reside. In this eerie underworld illumined only by man-made light, one can see the wonder of a "living cave" and how it continues to grow, albeit ever so slow. Stalactites hanging from the lofty cave ceilings contribute their slow but steady drip which in turn create stalagmites that grow toward their source until finally creating columns as they join together. For millennia, the forming and reforming of these calcite deposits took place in utter darkness -- a darkness so dark and complete that it can be felt! Yet, only in the past 100+ years has light come to these depths to reveal what God has wrought within the earth.

Caves or caverns have always intrigued humankind, but at the same time they create a sense of foreboding and dread when one thinks about the dark, nether world that lies within their respective locations. While often in scripture caves are places of refuge or escape, it is interesting to note that those who emerge from these caves are often stronger and more resolute in their purpose than before they entered. Possibly, after experiencing the depths of darkness their emergence into the light is one of new revelation and fulfilled purpose. Elijah fled to a cave after King Ahab sought his life, yet he encountered the Lord God in its depths (I Kings 19:9). He went forth in a new power and a fresh calling of the Lord as he confronted idolatrous Israel. David hid in the caves of Judea as King Saul relentlessly pursued him to put him to death (I Samuel 24:3). Within a few short years, David ruled over all Israel. And, of course, there was that most infamous cavern where our Savior was laid before rising to new life on the third day. Jesus Christ became the ultimate example of new life springing from the darkness of the tomb in which he was laid. Through the greatest death in history was created the most incredible redemption for all humankind. In all three examples, life was "happening" even in their darkest moments where no light or life seemed present or even possible. Yet, life began manifesting even when no one (including themselves) were witnesses.

Life is clearly manifested all around us for those who dwell on the earth. We see how the climates help create and sustain plants and animals in a variety of ways. While it is evident that life goes on above ground, we can also see that the earth is "living" even below our feet. The earth is always changing and re-creating itself as the Lord wills. Similarly, in our Christian lives, growth continues regardless whether we are exposed to His light or not. Of course, we all desire to "walk in the light as He is in the light" (I John 1:7). But what happens when God drives us to our respective caves where we languish for the light and hear not His voice? If we will but wait, He will reveal Himself once again to us and show us His way. Even as "living changes" in the underground realms are often times infinitesimal to the human eye in geological standards, we likewise don't realize any growth in our "spiritual caves" until God shines His light and reveals the beauty that these caverns have created in our souls. As time and purpose meet in the joining of calcite, so also does body, soul, and spirit become strong over time as they become a spiritual column in God's Holy Body, which is His church. However, this can only happen by great patience and long-suffering as the Lord forms us. We must not be impatient to remove ourselves from the constant "drip" of His life changing power. Though God's dealings might seem to take an eon, He will perfect us if we will but stand directly in His will to allow His life changing force to have its way with our lives.

Caves and dark holes in the ground will always play upon our fears. However, God has driven many of us (and is driving others as I speak) to these places which continue to shape and mold us despite our trepidations. How many of us would willingly enter a cave or a cavern where we knew there was no light? Not many of us, I am sure. Yet, God is calling many of us to venture out in faith as Elijah, as David, and as our Lord Jesus Christ into the uncertainty of these black, dark abysses. There will be no lights to guide us on the paths that He may ask us to tread upon. In so doing, once we are totally given to the Lord, He will illumine that area of our life where He has caused the growth and will send us back into the light to serve Him as we never thought possible. That, beloved, is the miracle of growth in darkness!

Lord God Almighty, while the caves and the dark caverns that you often lead us to and guide us through make our hearts beat fast with fear, remind us that You are there with us always. Help us all to step out in faith, into the darkness as You will. Then, lead us out into Your light in Your perfect time and in Your perfect way. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,



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