HOW to get through the dark

Hi friends, I have been swamped lately and I haven’t had enough time to compile a meaningful blog. So I’ve got a form of a ‘guest post’ today by Ann Voskamp, unfortunately it was taken down from her blog page, so the link I’ve provided is mostly other blogs from this amazing woman and whilst I’m trying to get all my work done over here for the term, I’d highly recommend you browse through her blogs and see how much of an amazing writer she is. I know you’ll come to love her as much as I do, I have read this blog so much I even have some lines memorized, it has helped me navigate through some dark spaces. ENJOY!

How to get through the dark- Guest post by Ann Voskamp

“The old cahoot ran in his boots.

Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.”

The kids and I read about the old guy one night after supper and the dishwasher’s moaning away, crumbs still across the counter.

How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t so much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer.

Mr. Young showed up for the race in his Osh Kosh overalls and with his work boots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.

He had no Nike sponsorship.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 12.54.34 PM
He had no wife – hadn’t had one ever.

Lived with his mother. Never drank. Never ran in any kind of race before. Never ran a 5 mile race, or a half-marathon, not even a marathon.

But here he was standing in his work boots at the starting line of an ultra-marathon, the most grueling marathon in the world, a 544 mile marathon.

Try wrapping your head around pounding the concrete with one foot after another for 544 (875 km) endless, stretching miles. They don’t measure races like that in yards – -but in zip codes.
First thing Cliff did was take out his teeth.

Said his false teeth rattled when he ran.

Said he grew up on a farm with sheep and no four wheelers, no horses, so the only way to round up sheep was on the run. Sometimes the best training for the really big things is just the everyday things.
That’s what Cliff said: “Whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go run and round up the sheep.” 2,000 head of sheep. 2,000 acres of land.

“Sometimes I’d have to run those sheep for two or three days. I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”
“Got any backers?” Reporters shoved their microphones around old Cliff like a spike belt.

“No….” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.

“Then you can’t run.”

Cliff looked down at his boots. Does man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.

The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forwardHe doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.

Cliff eats dust.

For 18 hours, the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.

Come the pitch black of night, the runners in their $400 ergonomic Nikes and Adidas, lay down by the roadside, because that’s the plan to win an ultra-marathon, to run 544 straight miles: 18 hours of running, 6 hours of sleeping, rinse and repeat for 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.

The dark falls in. Runners sleep. Cameras get turned off. Reporters go to bed.

And through the black night, one 61-year-old man far behind keeps shuffling on.

And all I can think is:

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not.

καταλαμβάνω Katalambanō – Comprehend. Understand. Master.

Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.

Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.

The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.

The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.

The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

That low lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.

Darkness can’t drive out darkness. Only light can do that,” Martin Luther King had said it, had lived it.

Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark.
Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark.
Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.

Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light. The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.

You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.

You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.

Cliff Young runs on through the dark — because he didn’t know you were supposed to stop.

The accepted way professional runners approached the race was to run 18 hours, sleep 6, for7 days straight. But Cliff Young didn’t know that. He didn’t know the accepted way. He only knew what he did regularly back home, the way he had always done it: You run through the dark.

Turns out when Cliff Young said he gathered sheep around his farm for three days, he meant he’d run across 2,000 acres of farmland for three days straight without stopping or sleeping, without the dark ever stopping him. You gathered sheep by running through the dark.

So along the endless stretches of highway, a tiny shadow of an old man shuffled along, one foot after another, right through the heat, right through the night. Cliff gained ground.

Cliff gained ground because he didn’t lose ground to the dark. Cliff gained ground because he ran through the dark.

And somewhere at the outset of the night, Cliff Young in his overalls, he shuffled passed the toned runners half his age. And by the morning light, teethless Cliff Young who wasn’t young at all, he was a tiny shadow — far, far ahead of the professional athletes.

For five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes straight, Cliff Young ran, never once stopping for the dark – never stopping until the old sheep farmer crossed the finish line – First. He crossed the finish line firstBeating a world record. By two. whole. days.

The second place runner crossed the finish line 9 hours after old Cliff.

And when they handed old Cliff Young his $10,000 prize , he said he hadn’t known there was a prize. Said he’d run for the wonder of it. Said that all the other runners had worked hard too. So Cliff Young waited at the finish line and handed each of the runners an equal share of the 10K.

And then the old cahoot in boots walked a way without a penny for the race but with all the hearts of whole world.

While others run fast, you can just shuffle with perseverance.
While others impress, you can simply press on.
While others stop for the dark, you can run through the dark.

The race is won by those who keep running through the dark.

Could be the year to pull a Cliff Young. 

When those reporters asked Old Cliff that afterward, what had kept him running through the nights, Cliff had said, “I imagined I was outrunning a storm to gather up my sheep.”

And I sit there in the thickening dark.

With the One who mastered the dark and overcame the storm to gather His sheep and now there is a Light Who shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.

And you can see them out the front window, far away to the west, out on there the highway —

the lights all going on through the dark.”

When corruption becomes normalized and we become desensitized to wrong doing

Open any newspaper at anytime and the one topic being reported is corruption countless articles on fraud and corruption. It’s a trending topic, money has been squandered, no one is ever held accountable, from the lowest government space to the highest, our country is under siege, to such a point that we no longer bat an eye when we hear the recent or current revelation there is a term for this… it is being desensitized

Two Ugandan judges, two attorneys, sanctioned by US state department over  bribery, corruption & adoption scam | African Legal Information Institute

desensitized/diːˈsɛnsɪtʌɪzd/adjective

  1. having been made less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty or suffering by overexposure to such images.

Yes my fellow South Africans as your president would say, it is just another day for us when we read on topics such as, The fraud surrounding the Covid-19 fund, The Mpumalanga PPE tender corruption scandal, The freezing of Gauteng education service providers bank accounts pending investigation and so on and so forth, I would provide a link to these here, but I am sure you’ve read most of them or steered clear of all of it altogether, but I am afraid the list is overwhelming and endless…

Anti corruption work - Höegh Autoliners

It is safe to say we are in an abusive relationship with our government, from national all the way to local and we have no option but to stay, so we handle it in different ways, firstly we complain, and my goodness do we complain, to every and any person we come across, telling them how expensive life has become, asking them if they have seen or read the latest news. Secondly we ignore the news entirely, read everything else in the newspaper but the reports on fraud and corruption, change the channel, go about our business, what we don’t know can’t harm us right? Well, wrong but I understand. Thirdly we voice our opinion every chance we get, swearing at them and humiliating them on social media, on blogs (yikes) on whichever platform we have access to, and we never stop, some of us are notorious for being vocal and we’re proud. Let me tell you a story it could be true, it could be false it is purely an example, so keep reading…

The Baleful Consequences of Corruption | The MIT Press Reader

Imagine you are given the responsibility to manage a town we could use the term public servant, however you are not alone, you have a team with you, your role is to take the budget passed down from national level (the highest decision makers in government) and you are to implement certain systems, some being evaluating the impact of government programmes (ensuring that proposed programmes are functioning, such as youth unemployment, skills development, housing, roads etc.) in municipal areas, enhancing performance and accountability, reporting and evaluation of capacity in local government (Knowing who must do what) coordinating and supporting policy development, implementing and monitoring and supporting service delivery (services such as water, sanitation, electricity etc.). This is to name but a few there is a great deal of work to be done but you do only parts of it, you squander the finances, there is no proof of functioning systems, there are power cuts, faulty water lines and the only thing that is evident to the public is spending, constant spending in a way that is overt, without shame and unexplainable.

Corruption Icon - Download in Glyph Style

This is a sad story isn’t it, imagine the residents in such a town, who do you think suffers most, it isn’t the working class, who have vehicles and earn stable incomes. It isn’t the wealthy who can afford to shut the world off, buy water tanks, generators and larger vehicles, in reality we all suffer but at it’s core it is the poor who suffer most, the poor who are at the very bottom of the food chain who possibly live hand to mouth, who went hungry pre-covid-19 and are suffering even more with this looming pandemic. It is the local business owners who employ some of these people and do not have recovery funds allocated for their survival like most of the famous franchise businesses.

The people who suffer most are the voiceless, who have accepted life to be unfair and understand that the system is rigged and that no one cares, so what do we do friends, so where do we go? We are all familiar with a town that I have mentioned above in my “story” it could be that you live in such a town.

We ALL realize that there is a problem, TOO much has gone wrong for TOO long and our silence had fanned this gruesome flame. We need solutions, effective and timely solutions, we have complained year in and year out and things are still the same.

We need to gather as members of various communities and come with effective solutions, sign petitions and we need to stop being reliant on political parties and realize how powerful it is when we as the community UNITE, put our differences aside and come together, from different racial groups, different view points and different economic classes. So much can be said, and this isn’t a once off conversation it can start again in the future… It shouldn’t stop, numbness is not an option.

Lastly AND MOST IMPORTANTLY we need to PRAY, don’t stop reading my non- Christian friends, hear me out, as Christians we talk a lot about praying, but we do so little of it, have you prayed for your municipalities and public servants as much as you have insulted them, sworn at them and slandered them? Have you prayed for them even though you dislike them, and I know this is putting it lightly, I know you are thinking of a stronger word. They know better and they are not your favorite people most likely, but if you believe FULLY in what the Holy Bible says you should know that you should pray for your enemies always, it written in Matthew…

Learning to pray differently during Covid-19 pandemic | Deccan Herald

Matthew 5:43- 47

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 

Yes friends we are called to pray, as the water is cut for several hours, we should pray, when we see yet another building erected whilst and we are struggling with power cuts and potholes the size of ponds, we should pray, as we suffer without knowing when it will end, we should pray, we cannot afford to be so blind that we stop praying, reacting and feeling for the generations who are to come, for the generation that is watching us, we are not called to be silent or passive. Join a prayer group, pray with your friends, over zoom, over phone calls, pray ALONE just FIND A WAY, we have to. When corruption becomes normalized and we become desensitized to wrong doing, it causes more harm than good. We should pray for conviction, pray for wisdom and pray for TRANSFORMATION.

We were warned of trouble friends, we were told that whilst we are still on this earth and whilst we are still part of world systems AND kingdoms we will have trouble but this is not all there is, there is good news, and it is that Christ has overcome, he has overcome the world. Our hope is not in the world or anything the world has to offer, it is in the ONE unshakable hope, that does not waver or let us down, it is not fleeting in is CHRIST ALONE.

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. … In this world you will have trouble. … But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Psalm 19:14

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Life is Art