http://howard-carter.blogspot.com/2011/06/jonah-beyond-our-boundaries-to-gods_20.html) . I'm not that creative but I have found that by using some of the tool associated with Microsoft PowerPoint I can superimpose two or more images on each other. This one is called prayer hands in the midst of a dark fractal'. I could have made the prayer hands more pronounced but the image kind of fitted where I am at at the moment. Sometimes the prayer and the faith and the holding onto God and being aware of God's presence etc is in the foreground and sometimes the dark fractal is dominant.
I am fascinated by fractals, these amazing designs which are the result of complex mathematical formula. They are patterns that repeat themselves as they go larger and smaller. For me that kind of sums up the dark place and places I find myself at the moment.
The big picture, the big pattern... the shock and the grief of the church plant I have invested my life into for the past two and a half years coming to an end. The funding being cut because their does not seem to be as much progress as had been hoped. I should point out that the people who have financed this project have been very faithful for the period that they said they would be.Which for has meant that I have to work through both looking at to where too from here. The reality that something that had been a dream for many years may in actual fact be over. If it was a God given dream then somehow there will be a chance of fulfilment in the future... on the other hand its a matter of possibly realising that I had been deluding myself for many years thinking it was. There is also the whole business of working out what went wrong... what could I do better ... what other factors need to be assessed. While its great to have affirmation from various people like 'right person, wrong situation/place'. It still is a long and hard process to work through.
Then there is wrestling where to from here. Am I called to ministry? Is that in the PCANZ (the denomination I have grown up and lived my adult life serving in)? What criteria do I look for in a new church (and the only factor that I seem to be able to focus on is "I want something that will have the least impact on my family").
The other thing with fractals is that as you deeper and deeper into them you find the pattern repeating itself on infinitely smaller scales. While I do wrestle with black dog days (as Winston Churchill put it about his fight with depression) often its the small dog or a pack of chuchacha that seem to cause that dark place to occur. The small things of life, that nip at our heals, but all gang up at once particularly when one is tired from the bigger picture. I recently had the most expensive cup of coffee I ever had... and it was free... it got spilled on my laptop. While its great to have insurance, its amazing how much time and energy it takes to find a replacement that suits their idea of replacing function and actually getting one that will do all the things I want it to do (my old laptop seems to have been just the right one for everything I needed). Tax season and suddenly working out there is something wrong with how I've been paid (I think). Bills that just keep coming, cars that seem to find the most inopportune times and inopportune places to let you know they are getting older.Family issues that seem to blow up as everyone seems stressed by an uncertain future. All small stuff, everyday stuff, but like a fractal these little bits gather into the bigger darkness. Like a pack of Mexican hunting dogs they can bring yo down. I always remember a radio sermon on the passage in Romans 8 about the fact that "Nothing can separate us form the love of God'... and in a never ending story kind of way just maybe we need to be aware of the destructive force of the nothing.
I'm not losing my faith its still there... Yes I can in the midst of that keep good spiritual disciplines and remember the goodness of God even count all my blessings... but the image really does fit the situation. The good thing is that while the prayer hands are obscured by the dark fractal... the reality is (as I'm preaching on this Sunday) God's Love Endures Forever' night is as day to God and well even in the midst of the mysterious dark fractal there are signs from the Spirit of his leading and guiding (check out http://howard-carter.blogspot.com/2011/05/another-nudging-bird-kereru-and-spirit.html and see how another evocative image of wood pigeon grease on a window can attest to).
maybe you can relate to the image, maybe you think I'm just going through some white middle class angst and just need to harden up, (you maybe right) but also know that there is hope of a good God who hears prayers... who even hears our hallelujah's ringing in the darkness uttered through clenched teeth.