Out of Exile: Day 25 – Discipline of Darkness

I’ve said, in these past days, that you need a companion or guide to help you through your exile. I hope this series has served that purpose. One person that has helped me is Richard Rohr.

Another guide for me has been Oswald Chambers in his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. He talks about exile as a darkness:

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…

Have you seen your exile as that…a discipline…a time of intense teaching/training?  Or has it just been a time of disappointment? 

When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. Oswald Chambers

When you are in the dark, you lose sight of what was once so important. When a small candle burns, suddenly it becomes the most important thing to you, drawing all your attention. That’s exactly what God wants to accomplish in exile. He wants his light to become your focus while everything else fades to black.

Exile is meant as a place to detach from everything  unnecessary in your life so you will attach yourself  fully to God. As you attach yourself to God you can let go of the things you felt were so important to your survival. It’s one thing to talk about God and faith. It’s another thing to live it. Exile helps you live out what you’ve been speaking for years. If there was a better way to effect this change, God would use it. But there’s not.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer refers to the priest in Genesis that met Abraham (Melchizedek):

Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning  of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually .   Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. Hebrews 7:3,4

Melchizedek was without everything that typically gives one their identity. His only identity was as a priest of God.  Because of it, he was called “great.” Are you willing to undergo that kind of a stripping to obtain that same identity?

Oswald Chambers offers this final insight:

Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. 

How does that land on you? Is it hopeful or does it just make you shake your head and say, “Right now I’m not concerned about having a precious message for someone else. I’d just like to make it through one day happy.” Be honest.

What is it that God might be teaching you in the darkness that you could share one day in the light? Please take a minute to comment below and click the share buttons.


8 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day 25 – Discipline of Darkness

  1. Marcia

    You wondered in your post if exile is a time when God teaches us the deepest lessons, when we hear from him in the ways that are the most clear. I once taught a lesson about how we tend to build our self concept around our relationships, job title, abilities, personality, possessions. They all paint a picture for us of who we are. And yet that’s so dangerous because our bodies grow old, we can lose our job and people who are significant to us can die or move away. Then who are we? Three years later I found myself in a place where all those things were abruptly changed or lost for me, and I remembered back to teaching that lesson as such a theoretical topic. It was no longer theory for me, but a painful reality. Breathing was hard.

    In your post you said, “Exile is meant as a place to detach from everything unnecessary in your life so you will attach yourself fully to God. As you attach yourself to God you can let go of the things you felt were so important to your survival.” For me at that point in my life, everything I felt was important for survival was suddenly gone. I wasn’t sure how survival was going to be possible. What I did have was a quiet assurance that God was there in that deep valley with me. I wanted God to come in a mighty wind and bring back my life. I wanted to see God shake my world in an earthquake, or mighty fire. But just like Elijah, instead I heard his whisper as clear as a bell. He whispered that he was holding me, right there in that painful place, and that was enough for me. I could trust his goodness even when I couldn’t understand what he was doing in my life.

    In many ways, I’m feeling now like I’m in another deep valley again. But this time, I’m not as frightened. I’m not looking for an earthquake, but listening for a whisper. I think exile is what helps us hear the whisper because we’re so desperate for it.

    1. Karen

      Great comment Marcia! I can relate to the whisper of God. I had always expected God to be able to overpower my thoughts and voice. It’s only when I learned to be absolutely quiet, not have an opinion, not have to be in control, that I heard him whisper just what I needed to hear! Everything will be ok!

      1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

        I used to think that as a Christian, it was my JOB to have an opinion. I needed to have the answer. To KNOW. And then make others listen. What a burden to carry (and to bear with me in those moments). Thanks Karen.

    2. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Very well said. I’m so glad you made it to that place. As hard as it is to get there, I think that’s what God is working with all of us to achieve. Now on to helping others join you! I think that’s what Chambers was talking about.

  2. Lisa

    Learning to sing in the dark places is like mining in a way. The real gems are found in the hard-to-get-to, difficult, dark places. Think diamonds. I also learned in my hard places that God is the one who brings honey from the rock. Thought this following piece from “A Holy Experience” might fit here too.


    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Great link Lisa. Thanks for sharing it. I didn’t know where the story was going or why the pictures, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s great to see how God uses situations in nature to reveal himself so personally.

  3. Ken

    I am learning that (a) I am not in control, (b) if ‘A’ wasn’t clear enough, the reality is that most things are completely beyond my control, (c) that God is incredibly faithful, that (d) life goes on, that (e) one of the only things I seem to be able to control in life is my choice of attitude, that (f) I need to carefully tend my feelings regarding not only my primary but also my secondary losses, that (g) most people really don’t care to know how I’m REALLY doing, but there are a FEW who really DO CARE and will take the time to walk with me through exile, and finally, (h) that God doesn’t just forgive me for my past and my sin, he actually LIKES me and wants to have a deepening relationship with me. That’s good news for a pastor in exile.

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