“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” 2 Timothy 4:17
I remember a mission trip I led to my hometown of Savannah. We stayed at a lovely place called Wesley Gardens, which had at one time been someone’s home. It is now repurposed to be a retreat center and being located on the Skidaway river makes it a special place to stay. One late afternoon I stood looking out over the river watching a familiar sight. A summer storm was coming. The cloud bank was far away, but the atmosphere had changed dramatically, and our sunny day went dark.
In Savannah, it’s pretty common for a storm to knock the lights out. When lightning struck the house, the thunderclap deafened us. Lights went out immediately and an old phone was blown off the wall. Firefighters came and declared everything was fine and the storm went away almost as fast as it had come up. But the lights stayed off for a long time. We lit candles and turned on flashlights. We talked about our experience with the storm and prayed for anyone else who was now without power and with thanksgiving that the storm has passed. Together we found a way to light up the darkness.
I’ve spent a lot of my ministry lighting candles in the dark. People get hurt and become afraid and so do I. Situations brighten up when I remember that God stands with me ready to strengthen. The mistakes I’ve made are often because I thought it was all on me to get the lights back on. God is patient with me when I realize once again how he can help. How good it is to discover an unlimited power source of love, strength, and guidance. How blessed we are when we realize that falling on our knees has everything to do with rising up. We are facing some storms and yes, these are trying days. We’re trying new ways to be together that demonstrate love for one another. We’re trying out new ideas for serving that involve more prayer, more communication, more creative approaches and more personal connection than ever before. We’re trying to light as many candles in the dark as we can. 2 Timothy 4:17 reminds us how our efforts move from a good try to a great outcome. Paul is speaking from the middle of his own storms and sends us a light saying, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” He stood with Paul and he will stand with you, bringing the light of his presence to your darkness.