• Dana L. Butler


I sit and scrawl raw guts into my journal.  My ten minutes of writing practice are long up and I’m not stopping.  I can’t.

The more I discipline myself to write daily — these 10 minutes minimum that more and more frequently turn to 20 or more — the more it feels less like a discipline and more like oxygen.

I have to go deeper with Him.  With Him in me.  I have to let Him dig and unearth and expose and I have to write out of that place because what else is there?  What else is there than to learn to know Him in my deep places?  And what do I have to offer you here in this space if not the fruit of that knowing?

So here are the things that are moving me and wrecking me lately and I have no easy-to-read, fun package to present them in, y’all.  Just raw.  Again.  Which seems to mostly be all I have to bring here lately.

Empty space.  Empty space between strength requested and strength delivered.  Between peace needed and peace received.  Between raw cries of “Lord help me — give me patience — give me grace” and any increase at all in my perceived coping skills.

The darkness between the crying out and the faith to experience His resourcing of my heart.  What is that space?  Why is there sometimes such a massively painful gap between what I know of who He is and His commitment to encounter and resource my heart, and my practical outworking of said resourcing?

Because this is about learning to see in the dark.  Learning to glimpse the invisible.  Learning to know the One who’s committed to being found, but won’t shrink to fit in my tiny boxes.

I expect to experience His resourcing when I cry out for it but there’s that stinkin’ gap — the gap of Where are You now? — and He doesn’t want to meet my expectations — He wants to exceed them.  To blow my small boxes out of the water.

I don’t have to be able to find Him to experience His nearness.

And what if He’s in the very place I think He’s not?  What if He’s in my where are you questioning and crying out for grace that seems to take its sweet time arriving?  What if He waits for me in the last place I expect Him?  He is bent on being literally everything I need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3) and the ferocity of that commitment doesn’t change based on whether or not I can see the manifestation of it on its way.

So there are these voids — these gaps between the now and the not yet, between the ask and the tangible answer, between the plea for help and the coming to the rescue.

The empty darkness.  The silence.  The gut-level where are you now?’s.

And those moments are precisely where He is.  He is in that empty dark and in my longing for Him and in my awareness of my desperate need and in my waiting and wondering and expecting and coming face to face with still more silence.

He is too huge and too holy to encounter me the same way as before, and He is far more committed to me experiencing new facets of His infinity and seeing His heart from new angles than He is to me always knowing the right answers or having quick solutions to my struggles.

So I’m learning to cultivate eyes of faith, to see the invisible, to encounter Him in the dark, silent, empty.  To count as gifts the moments when there are no quick solutions.  To know Him near in the spaces between graces and in my utter lack of resources, to receive it as a present because awareness of my need is proof of His presence in my depths.

All desire for Him is evidence of Him.  I can’t long for Him apart from Him.

Longing is a gift.  Arriving at the end of myself and experiencing my utter lack and this gut-level, desperate knowing of my need — a gift.

And He’s here, in the empty space — right in the very place I think He’s not.

And what else is there but to look a little deeper and learn to see the Infinite Invisible and go a little further with You, Jesus, while you hold my hand in the dark and lead me forward, step by tentative step?

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