Way back in seminary I learned from Ecclesiastes that my life would not bring an end or even make a significant change to the darkness of our world. Now that I am in my 50's I have learned the same thing from life. The persistent and pervasive darkness makes me ache.
Our lives can turn on the light in a dark room. But the sun awaits the Son.
If you boil being a Christian down to it's very essence, it is an experience of God. It is a lot of other things too. But if it is not an experience of God, the other things are man made religion, not Christianity.
I was lying in bed the other day pondering these things and I realized that if I put these two conclusions together, it makes a very good framework for exploring “normal” Christian experience. (Helpful, in resolving my personal and corporate lament. ( cf. Earlier blogs)) The Christian life will not be a life free of darkness, and it will not be a life devoid of an experience of God.
Christianity is an experience of God in the midst of the darkness!
Within that you can have the experience of Stephen whose vision of Christ was had while rocks smashed into his head. Or you can have the experience of Paul, who experienced numerous miraculous rescues, and through whom others experienced many supernatural healings, but who was also stoned, shipwrecked, maligned, hated, bitten by a scorpion, and died in prison. Or you can have the experience of some Christians in World War II, whose normal lives of commerce, and church, and weddings and funerals, were turned upside down by the presence of a Jewish family at the back door, looking for a place to hide.
Within that, there is no, “one size fits all.” And we have only limited impact on the size that fits us. Are you the leader or vibrant member of an apostate church; a carpenter or nurse in a church in the midst of a Spiritual awakening; a martyr in a country with hatred towards Christ; a saint with a memory of mystical communion now going through a “dark night of the soul;” or a converted Muslim in a community into which God is breaking?
Christian experience can be radically different and still very real.