A Great Light

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:2 NASB

I was invited to attend the Care Net conference this month in Washington DC. with several other staff members at Bridgehaven. Care Net is the umbrella organization that supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America, including Bridgehaven. We soaked up four days of engrossing keynote speakers (like David Nasser and Andi Andrews), current knowledge and instruction from amazing workshop leaders (like Kathy Koch), rich networking fellowship with others from all across the nation, and powerful times of holy worship after each morning devotional.

I have many, many take-aways (I am still deciphering and organizing my notes). But, what has traveled home with me, and what I have found myself talking about more than anything else is a session with Lisa Hosler, President of Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her session was called Leading in the Secret of the Productive Pause.

In this experiential workshop, she began to share the principles and practices of the productive pause, equipping us to develop a sense of creative worship.

One of the first activities was to look at a photo we had been given and “reflect on the image; think about God and His faithfulness. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a specific time He was especially faithful to you and your ministry.”

It was no surprise to me when the Lord immediately brought to mind a recent, specific moment that happened at the DHS/Foundation 2 Youth Shelter where we were teaching this summer. Our students were 11 to 17 year-olds that were housed together waiting for foster families, or adjudicated by the court to be there until a place at Juvenile Detention opened up, or removed from their home for safe-keeping. A tough crowd. A dark place.

The next instruction was not so easy. We were then asked to write a Haiku poem of gratitude to the Lord for that incident. A HAIKU! I have not even thought about Haiku since eleventh grade English class. Thankfully, we were reminded of the parameters: five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. No rhyming necessary. And then we were given about twenty minutes to worship the Lord in this stretchy new way.

I was amazed and overwhelmed by the words laid on my heart by the Holy Spirit. It was impossible not to hold in awe that moment where God was so faithful and present, then and now. Well, here…read for yourself:

A dark corner, pitch
Distorted innocence, lost
Empty eyes, rebel

Chaos, their pillow
Perverseness their torn blanket
Driven to untrust.

Breaking through the pitch
One word, one Name, one voice, brave
One reference to You…

Your light bursts through,
Sharp-edged and powerful,
When Your name was said.

“The man upstairs, God”
A door opened, permission
White-hot light, flooding

A flicker, a blink
Glassy eyes focusing now
Hollow but hungry

Your Word lands softly
On disfigured ears and hearts
A little bit mended

Darkness reclaims light
Except for a new ember
Glowing, ready to fan

Here’s the backstory…

After several challenging days at the youth shelter, we asked the Bridgehaven staff to pray specifically that we would have an opportunity to share the Truth with these kids. Because of the secular nature, we are only allowed to talk about faith or God if one of the students brings it up. And this was our fervent prayer that morning. That very day, early in our two-hour allotted time, a young man, in response to some things we were sharing, out of the blue, said, “That’s why I talk to the man upstairs, God.”

I remember thinking, “Okay, Lord! You opened this door, just like we asked. I’m gonna walk through it!” We were talking about decisions and consequences, and how hard it is sometimes to do the right thing. And that’s when the light broke through! I was prompted to read aloud from Romans 7:

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

The darkness was shattered in that moment. They heard the Word of God, and acknowledged it. “Yeah, that’s it” said our young man. “That’s exactly how I feel!”

And although the darkness crept back into that same place moments after this illumination, we were encouraged and strengthened in so many ways. We were affirmed by answered prayer. We were reminded of His sovereignty and power in the most oppressive of places. We saw sparks in dull eyes. We were empowered by the relevancy and accuracy of this passage, for these kids, at that very moment! We were able to take this encouragement back to the Bridgehaven staff, to testify that their prayers had been answered.

I challenge you, if you are brave enough, and willing to stretch a tiny bit, to write your own Haiku. You might be surprised! Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. No rhyming necessary. I promise, it won’t be graded!

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:2 NASB

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

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