Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Today I'm continuing the brief exploration of light and darkness that I started last week.  Hope this speaks to you. 

The first line of Simon and Garfunkle's classic song, "The Sound of Silence" (which was recently redone by one of my favorite bands: Disturbed) goes like this: 
Hello Darkness, my old friend... I've come to talk to you again.   I've always liked that first line.  I've never been afraid of my darkness.  It's an essential part of who I am.  Sometimes (and I almost hesitate to say this) it's a welcome respite from the light.    

As I was pondering today's Devo, I realized something that I'm sure most of us already know:  It's so much easier for most of us to think and talk about light and lightness than it is to dwell on darkness.  

But there are two things I want to point out about darkness that most of us typically gloss over when we're dealing with it in our lives... 

To begin with, there's no such thing as total dar…

Step Into The Light

I'm going to spend the next two devos talking about Darkness and Light.  I have this notion that we need both in order to be whole... hope these speak to you. 

I love living in a place where most of the days are sun-drenched.  I'd have a hard time trying to make a go of it in a town where most days were cloudy and grey.

[Full disclosure, however...  when the thermostat hit 101 degrees yesterday, here in Austin... I did feel a bit defeated.]

Don't get me wrong, I love me a good rainy day... or a crisp, foggy Fall morning... but if I go too long without seeing the sun, it messes me up. 

When I lived in Chicago, I would see billboards pop up during the winter time advertising professional therapy and counseling for people suffering from something called Seasonal Affect Disorder, which is a depressive disorder brought on by the grey skies of winter... months of grey skies... months.  

The fact that the acronym for this disorder is S.A.D. is not a coincidence, I'm thinking.  Bec…

The Purpose of Pain

We live in a pain-averse culture. 

If you are aching from your workout, there's a remedy for that.  Slight headache?  No problem, there's a remedy for that, too.  No need to suffer, am I right? 

Lost?  Just take out your smartphone and get some driving directions. 

Speaking of smartphones, there's an infinite number of apps that you can download to reduce any amount of discomfort, trouble, adversity that you might be facing. 

You also don't have to listen to anything or anyone that upsets you either. 

If your university invites a controversial speaker to speak, just get a bunch of your friends together to protest the heck out that, my friend.  They'll disinvite them toot sweet --- if you are loud enough. 

Don't agree with the news you are getting?  Find a TV news channel that gives you exactly what you want to hear, and then watch that sucker to your heart's content. 

No one should be uncomfortable, right? 

Here's the trouble with all of this...  without pain, …

Teshuva Your Way To Your True Self

We ourselves are the infinitely small and the infinitely great.  And we are the path between the two. - Khalil Gibran

The Gospel of Mark (1:15) notes the first words Jesus speaks when he begins his ministry as these: 
The time has come. Turn around and believe the good news! Most of you would find that in your version of the Bible the phrase "turn around" is actually translated as "repent."  This simple translation has often been misinterpreted as the act of asking forgiveness for sins you've committed.  

The Hebrew word for repentance is teshuva, which actually means "a returning" or a "turning around."  

Teshuva signifies a change of direction, a transformation that alters the trajectory of the person who is "repenting," and essentially returns them to their proper path.    

In other words, it's about changing your direction---the one that leads you farther away from being authentically you, and becoming the person you were meant …

I Look To The Sea

This past week I had a wonderful opportunity to have some rest and relaxation with my family and to spend a lot of time on or near the ocean. 

On one particular day, I was sitting on the deck of a ship observing how calm and still the Gulf of Mexico was in that moment.  It was blue and clear, and deep, so deep. 

I began to think about how deceiving the still, deep water was then. 

We were gliding through it as though we were its master, but we most definitely were not.  It occurred to me that there was a whole world below the surface of the then-placid sea--a world that was vast, foreign and dangerous. 

I also reflected on how at any moment the calm, seemingly harmless water could turn ugly and destructive with just a bit of wind or the surge of a storm. 

And then I thought about how despite all of our efforts to know the world below the surface of the sea, it was filled with mysteries, things beyond our reach or imagination. 

"The sea is like God." I wrote in my journal.  "G…

Keep Climbing

Today's Devo is more of a reflection on a memory that came back to me while I was on vacation.  I hope it is meaningful.  

When I was thirteen years old, I hiked up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs--from the base to the summit on a Saturday in August.  

It was part of a church youth group adventure, but what was designed to be something the group did together quickly devolved into smaller factions who were determined to go their own way. 

My friend David and I hiked alone.  We had no water, no food, no real equipment, either.  When I think about it now, I realize how crazy that was.  

And here's something fascinating... When you stand at the foot of the mountain, you can't see the top.  It was only trees and a seemingly endless incline of rocks and hills.  

That climb was truly an adventure, especially when we got above the timberline, where trees wouldn't grow and the air was so thin even native Coloradans like me couldn't walk more than 100 yards without taking a break.…

This Week We'll Be Taking A Short Hiatus

Nearly four years ago, (after being urged to do so for some time by my wife Merideth) I published the first of hundreds of Daily Devos.  At the time, I had no idea that all these years later I'd still be writing them.  

The whole thing started with me just writing down some of my random thoughts about God, faith, the Bible and general theological reflections and sending them out via email to church members and friends for the season of Lent.

I fully expected to stop writing them after Lent that year, but by then all of the folks who were receiving them urged me to continue--so I did.  

Now we send out close to 700 emails a day and reach a couple of thousand people through social media, Tumblr and my personal blog.  It's amazing.  

I have to tell you that sitting down to write these daily devotions (almost) every day has saved my life.  And the fact that you all read them is a marvel to me.  

Some of you even take the time to share with me how a particular devo has encouraged you, s…