Almost a year ago to the day, I sat in an airplane and watched the sun rise. It was the first time I was by myself in over a year. The silence and solitude were just as heavenly as the view.
On the tray table in front of me sat a journal, my Bible, and a scrap piece of paper I had ripped out of a legal pad the day before. The paper held lines of a poem I had scribbled out the previous morning.
The first stanza read:
“My soul was shrouded in darkness
The night long and bleak.
I cried to the Lord, ‘Come help me!’
But the darkness refused to flee.”
You see, I had just reached the end of a months long season of anger. Anger over my current circumstances. Anger over trauma from the past. And anger over what I was sure to come. But as the months went on, the biggest source of my anger was over the fact that I could not shake myself free from any of it. Oh, I desperately wanted out, and I prayed for relief. But I felt trapped.
In the margin of my Bible, next to Psalm 27:1, I had written:
“My feelings are more anger right now. Anger that Satan has me gripped so tightly. But I think I am afraid it will last forever. This isn’t true.”
Have you ever felt stuck in sin? I’m not talking about outward defiance to God’s clear commands. I’m talking about soul-gripping sins that wrap around your heart, pull you under, and steal your joy. The type of severe spiritual attack from the vicious lion who wanders around and seeks to devour your soul (1 Peter 5:8).
Well, when I sat in the plane that morning I was rejoicing, because finally, I was free. Even though he had allowed this season of spiritual wrestling, the Lord heard when I cried aloud. He was gracious to me and answered me. He hid me in his shelter in the day of trouble and he did not give me over to the will of the enemy (excerpts from Psalm 27).
I imagine you’re wondering how I got ‘unstuck’. Well, I cannot attribute the transformation to anything external; nothing about my circumstances changed. But the Lord worked a miracle in my soul.
How? Every day I would read a psalm—or portion of one—and journal my thoughts back to the Lord. Just as the psalmists, I poured out my heart to the Lord. I told him every feeling, every thought, and every honest struggle. The process was painful, unearthing other sins and revealing idols in my heart. But it was necessary and good.
I needed the power of God’s Word to cut through to my soul. My mind needed to be sharpened and renewed with the truth. My heart needed comforting words about God’s unchanging character in the midst of life’s storms. I needed to know that God wasn’t repulsed by my honest cries to him.
But I did need to come to him with all of it and I needed to soak in the truth of his Word.
While I soared above the clouds and watched the sun creep higher into the sky, I realized God had done something similar for me. As I gazed upon the beauty of the Lord, the light spilled in and the darkness did flee. He rescued me from the pit and untangled me from the cords of sin.
“I sought your face in the dark,
You led me to your rest.
Now I’m free to embrace every moment
For your joy has restored my soul.”