Don Goulding - Blog

Dark Night of the Soul

IMGP0221My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

I stared over the edge of a precipice that dropped into despair. Behind me was the theory of peace with the God who cared. Wavering between the pit and the theory, I asked that God would speak. The returning silence sickened my heart.

With my toes over the edge, I examined thought trails down the cliff—did I have a purpose? was joy snuffed by pain? The more I thought, the less clear was the difference between the silent God behind me and the void of puzzles below. Insanity seemed the natural conclusion of reasonable contemplation.

It’s called the dark night of the soul, and both classical and contemporary teachers speak of times when God withholds his presence and forces us to depend on the promises of Scripture alone. It can last for days, months, even years. Often, the reasons our loving Father chooses to subject us to spiritual vacuums are only revealed much later.

For me, the nearness of Jesus flowed through the fuel line to my soul until I took it for granted. When a bubble of deprivation slipped into the line, I sputtered and reeled, sucking on the air of my own thoughts. Too much thinking about me is always perilous. I experienced the pointlessness of life without the Holy Spirit.

Teetering on the brink of that abyss, I smelled rancid breath calling me downward, and was horrified out of complacency. I fell to my knees and begged God to whisper. Then I waited, and waited some more.

The faintest movement of hope blew and I said, “Good enough, I’ll take it.”

Prayer: Father, may I never go into that night again, but if I do, even then will I trust you.


Master of Time

Gods Amazing Universe.001From one man he [God] made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live… (Acts 17:26)

Scientists wanted to know if Einstein’s theory of relativity was true, so they placed an atomic clock, accurate to a billionth of a second, on an airplane. They flew the clock around the globe then compared its time to another atomic clock. The times were different—proof that time changes with motion.

With data streams beamed from the space probe Cassini near our heavy sun, physicists demonstrated that gravity also alters time. Seconds, minutes, and hours pass more slowly on a massive star than on earth, relative to motion and gravity.

God created the universe and the multitude of laws that govern. He is sovereign over the dimensions of time that I cannot begin to grasp. Time is merely one of the tools he uses to carve history into a monument to his glory.

On God’s timeline, we have lived in the era of redemption since Adam. The tiny span of each life must be redeemed through Christ—some retroactively through the years and others prospectively. Indeed, the goal of every minute of this era is eternal redemption.

Inside this era, God uses time to make us his partners in the work of redemption. The master of time let’s me join his cause for a few sacred years. And yet, it’s limited. Time will run out. The minutes of our lives will end, and the era of redemption will close. It’s vital that I use whatever time God gives me to insure redemption for myself and others.

 Prayer: Master Creator, may I honor you through my allotted time.


Umbrella of Protection

PAY squirrel under an unbrellaObey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. (Hebrews 13:17)


“Hey Paul,” my voice gave a mid-puberty squeak, “my parents are gone. Come pick me up.”

Paul arrived with more boys and we brewed schemes of teenage rascality. As the night unfolded there were primal yells, an illegal entry, and stolen goods.

The revelry jerked to a halt when the police stopped us for spinning doughnuts on our high school lawn. We denied the charge, but a grass-covered souped-up Chevy made for an unconvincing tale. We spent the rest of the night frightened in jail. So much for my parent-free adventure.

God maintains order through hierarchies of authority in both the physical and spiritual realms. In the material world he works through parents, governments, even armies on occasion. In the spiritual he primarily uses elders and pastors (in the Bible AKA bishops, shepherds, overseers, & presbyters).

I was a foolish teenager when I cast off submission to authority, and I paid a dear price. As an adult, how often do I ignore the authority of my church leaders and bring unnecessary suffering on myself and others? Do I even consult them about life decisions?

The anointing over positions within the body of Christ is bigger than the persons holding the offices. When I submit to their Spirit-led direction, I’m under the umbrella of God’s protection. To step out from under that blessing is far more foolish than spinning doughnuts on the lawn.

Prayer: Father, use my church leaders to keep watch over my soul.


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