Treasures of Darkness Robin Weidner, November 2008
Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who se es, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning*
As we prepare for what traditionally is a time of thanksgiving, I find myself drawn to these words. Certainly, visiting women’s ministries around the U.S. and beyond has opened my h eart to how… “earth’s crammed with heaven.”
As I glance around my office, I see many reminders. The mugs that line the top of my cabinets (from every city I’ve traveled to) bring to mind Secure in Heart women’s days—testimonies to the faith, sacrifice and creativi ty of women. My bulletin board has a tree of cards in which women pour out gratitude and offer snippets of their stories.
Most of all, I think of kneeling in lonely hallways in cities across the country, moments before I speak, surrendering my weakness to Go d and then watching in awe as “common bushes” burst into flame, afire with God.
Secret Treasures "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." — Isaiah 45:3
In my presentations, I tell about being molested as a child—and the consequential loss of self-esteem, boundaries, and perspective. But I also share a time where I had a f lashback of the scene and realized in a powerful way the compassion God had for me in that very moment.
At my last women’s day of the year, the last woman in line to get a book signed said something I’ll never forget.
“As I sat there listening this morn ing, I knew without a doubt that God had arranged this whole day just for me. Your story is mine, only multiplied six times through my mother’s six husbands. From all the way across the room, I felt your heart connecting with mine. Through your story, I realized I’m not healed. But I’m leaving here today so full of hope for the journey ahead.”
Through God’s amazing goodness, a devastating loss from my childhood has now burst into a shining beacon of life — pointing others to God’s healing.
I’m convinced that this is an example of what Isaiah the prop het called the secret “treasures of darkness.” They are treasures of darkness because they only come through suffering. They are secret because they are often hidden, stored up for us, awaiting God’s perfect timing.
Most of all they are personal — given us so that we can know that the Lord God summons us by name. Rich and powerful testimonies of God’s individual love and goodness to each of us.
Treasures of darkness also point us towards Paul's admonit ion to "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, emphasis mine).
Ready to take off your shoes? This Thanksgiving, I hope you'll thank God for each good thing He's given , big and small. But I hope you'll also make the gutsy move of thanking Him for the things in our families, our churches, our finances and our dreams that are far from glorious—the tr easures of darkness.
Be specific as you thank him for every loss, every heartache, every deferred blessing, every struggle and every bit of ordinariness in your life. Thank him for how he is working and laying up treasures for you that you don’t yet see or understand.
If we don’t, I fear we may end up picking blueberries—simply surviving life, school, family, ministry, career, and missing the bigger picture of what God longs to do in our lives.
But if we do, by faith we can catch a glimpse of a burning bush, and the voice of God calling us to take off our sandals for the place we stand is holy ground.
A place where God himself turns our...
Tears into sheaves of blessings (Psalm 126:4-6)
Weaknesses into testaments of His power (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Troubles into a glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Losses into abundant life that multiplies (John 12:24)
Death into partaking in the power of Christ’s resurrection (Philippians 3:9-11)
Thank you for your stories, your prayers and your companionship on the journey to a secure heart!
*Thanks to David Jeremiah for sharing Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s quote in his book: My Heart’s Desire—Living Every Moment in the Wonder of Worship
Read: Isaiah 51:3, John 16:20-24, Romans 8:18-39, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Ask yourself: Why is thanksgiving a difficult spiritual discipline? What reminders has God given you to be thankful? Listen to God’s voice: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says we can give thanks in all circumstances, because it is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. Jesus is our model of how to be thankful in the face of darkness. How did Jesus overcome the darkness?
What would you say is the hardest event, loss or weakness in your past or present to give thanks for? What benefits might others receive through this suffering?
Meditate: Do you feel like you are "picking blueberries" or taking off your shoes and seeing the glory of God? How can thanksgiving transform your faith?
Apply: Take time as Robin suggests to "thank him for every loss, every heartache, ever deferred blessing, every struggle and every bit of ordinariness in your life. Thank him for how he is working and laying up treasure of darkness that you don't yet see or understand."
Journal on how thanksgiving changes your perspective.