By Tim Tron
Another picturesque Saturday morning found my car weaving through the hairpin turns along Shulls Mill Road. My destination was to meet with others to go hiking. The college was hosting the first football game of the year, so some wanted to start earlier than usual to be back in time for the start of the game. For once, in what seemed an eternity, life on campus was returning to some sense of normalcy. The sky above the canopy of trees that shadowed the road along the mountainside was a brilliant azure blue. The wind passed over my body refreshing and washing away all the cares of the previous week. The air was finally getting the nip in it that foretold of the coming fall. – yes, all was right in the world for the moment.
It was going to be a wonderful morning of fellowship and enjoying God’s creation.
Members of our party started to arrive. The usual greetings and hugs were passed around. I laced up my boots as we prepared to load up and head out. Just as we were about to embark, my phone rang. The number was from my wife. She knew where I was, so her calling was of some concern. She wasn’t the type that would call to interrupt times of fellowship unless it was important. The voice on the other end of the line was frantic. Immediately my mind began preparing for the worst. “There’s water all over the basement. Something is leaking, and it’s already running into the hallway carpet near the basement door.” My first fears were relieved in hearing that it wasn’t someone in the family hurt or worse. Trying to calm my wife’s fears, I assured her that I was heading home immediately.
As I hung up, the others already knew what my words confirmed – that my attendance for today’s hike would be put on hold, if not canceled altogether. Everyone understood, even though the mood had been quickly dampened. As we said our “goodbyes,” just having finished our “hellos,” I rushed off to head back home. The questions quickly began to arise in my mind regarding the call. Would the basement be flooded to the point it might cost thousands of dollars to fix? Was it going to be possible for me to fix it? Was this just another trial that was testing my patience and resolve? Would there be something to be learned from all this? Was this just a continuation of the growing attacks by the darkness?
The Simon and Garfunkel tune popped into my head at that moment, “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”
Winding my way back through the turns of the mountain road, I couldn’t help but think how this incident with the potential flooding at my house fit perfectly into something that was becoming more and more obvious in recent weeks – how it seemed we were under increasing attacks by the darkness of the world and beyond. Like a demon serpent slithering its way into our lives, hiding beneath the shadows waiting to pounce, nobody seemed to be immune. While this situation that awaited me was nothing life-threatening, and for that, I was sincerely grateful. It was more demonic in what it had prevented than what it was destroying. Evil couldn’t penetrate where God dwelt, so it managed to do it another way to halt our fellowship. It seemed once again darkness and I were meeting face-to-face. Yet, it wasn’t something that drove fear into my soul, for in my heart, there was a new spirit, one that didn’t fear death or darkness. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” When we follow Christ, we follow the light. We turn away from things of the darkness, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Driving afforded me the time to reflect on this idea and how its continued progression had grown in recent weeks. I began praying as I drove and first thanked God for the glorious morning. Then, without pause, I asked Him to be there for us all because alone, we are nothing. We can do nothing on our own, for without Him, we are helplessly lost. Then the verse from Ephesians came to mind in my prayer, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” My prayer continued, asking God to give us the mind, the stature, and the strength to face those waves upon waves of attacks from evil. To call upon the LORD for our strength, for Him to be there for us to lean on, and for the power to withstand what seems to be a never-ending flood of darkness in our lives and world. And lastly, my prayer asked that whatever I faced at home, God would provide me the wisdom and patience to accept and overcome whatever obstacle we faced as a family. Amen.
Over the last month, there has been an endless stream of news, stories, and revelations of people suffering from the afflictions of those dark principalities prevailing against them. From the perfectly sane brother in Christ who lost his mind to the young pastor who became afflicted with Listeria of the brain that left him in a deep coma, the news of bad things seems to never end.
There is the ministry staff under attack because of Satan’s cunning manipulation of relationships of the flesh. Meanwhile, a missionary who has spent his life serving those unfortunate inhabitants of villages in third-world countries providing medical care was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. It doesn’t make the nightly news anymore, but some churches still have to cancel services because COVID continues to ravage rural populations. Young athletes are dropping dead for no apparent reason, having had all their shots and boosters.
But it doesn’t stop there.
There are those students who are part of my campus ministry that are succumbed to all manner of maladies. Some, new in the faith, struggle against their addictions. Others, stalwart believers working amazing outreach, suffer from physical ailments, the likes of which the Apostle Peter mentioned when he wrote, “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”
And the list goes on and on.
We can be overwhelmed by such a never-ending flood of bad news, or we can stop and remember that we are not alone. As Paul wrote in Romans, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Persevering through the trials of life, we are taught many lessons. One important one that has been with me from the beginning is that no matter how wicked something seems, there is always something good that comes from it. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Now that may sound a bit overbearingly optimistic to some of you, or maybe most of you. But hear me out. When the storm passes, and if we are still here to awaken to another day, we can be thankful for just surviving. But there is more to it than that. We can also see how those seemingly life-shattering disasters brought people together and allowed survivors to witness the work of believers coming to their aid, praying over them, and showing them what hope looks like. Then some lose their minds, and suddenly their families learn what it is to have to lean on the everlasting arms of Christ. For them, their faith is emboldened like never before. They learn how important prayer and supplication can become when they are faced with an evil so bold, and so determined that it takes over their beloved, leaving them helpless. Some say that the ground is made level at the foot of the cross. Sometimes, it takes a ground-leveling event to get our attention.
Another story is of an elderly woman who is told she has hours to live. The family is called in, from the extended family whom she has never seen to the great-grandchildren she has never met, all come in to say goodbye. Three days later, she is healed completely astounding the medical staff, and she is sent home. The family is renewed. Old severed ties are made anew. Spiritually, the family is forever changed.
Then lastly, there is the ongoing saga of Pastor Ryan Marlow, a father of three young children. His wife, Megan, shared his story on social media, and now it’s not just his congregation praying for their healing; it has grown to thousands upon thousands of people praying to God to heal this man.
At one point, Ryan was pronounced dead. They began planning for organ donation surgery. Megan went home and began mourning the loss of her husband. Two days later, at the time of the planned operation to harvest his organs for organ donors, Megan was on the way to his room riding in the elevator when she received a call from one of Ryan’s nieces. His niece had been in Ryan’s room showing him some videos of the family singing, and they noticed his foot twitching. A sign of life? Most medical experts will tell you that it is not uncommon for there to be physical movement without brain activity. Knowing this, Megan went to his room and began to hold his hand and kiss his arm, telling him all the things she wanted to say before he passed. His heart rate increased. Was this another sign, or was she just being overactive?
It was then that Megan knew she had to say something.
She immediately left his room and stopped the OR team standing outside his door. She insisted that they run more tests and halt the surgery to harvest his organs. A few hours later, unbelievingly, they confirm that there is brain activity after all. As of the writing of this story, Ryan is still alive. Megan is still providing updates, and thousands of people are praying for a man they had never met and a mother and her three young children. But, as Megan has said in her video updates, God answers prayer in his own time and in his own way.
Ironically, the trials and darkness we all face can become the light to those around us. The bystander can witness the evil that attacks our lives and watch how miraculously we endure to face another day. What is important is that we share how we didn’t do it alone and that all things are possible with God. As with the story of Ryan and his family, complete strangers are now witnessing a young mother and her peace with knowing God is in control, no matter the outcome.
When I arrived home later that morning, my disaster was nothing more than a clogged drain. Once it was relieved, the flood had been averted, and all was well. The prayer for help had been answered, and my stature and patience were never pressed beyond a few loving words. All was not lost. Once more, scripture reminded me, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
Yes, darkness, sarcastically, I call you my old friend, but really, I know who you are. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” You were never, nor will you ever truly be, a friend. You will always be a sign of the wickedness that exists in a fallen world.
Go not alone into this world to face the darkness. God is with you if only you call upon Him to be at your side. Don’t be overwhelmed by the world, but allow Christ to flood into your soul, and you will find comfort in the eye of the storm. Continue to pray for those who are suffering, for the Marlow family, and many more. In all these things, we pray, in Christ’s Holy Name, AMEN!
Thanks be to God.
Timothy W. Tron lives in Collettsville, NC. with his family. He is currently the Systems Administrator for the Computer Science Department at App. State. Timothy is the former Director of the Trail of Faith in Valdese, where he still volunteers and helps with tours. He is the author of a new Christian series, “Children of the Light”, with the first book being, “Bruecke to Heaven”, revised as “Bridge to Heaven”, and his recent book, being the second, “The Light in the Darkness”. He is an active blogger, artist, and musician. Timothy also has a BSEE from UF, and is a Lay Speaker. He is currently acting as the Faculty/Staff Liaison for the Ratio Christi campus ministry at App. State. He can be reached at [email protected] You can visit his website at //www.timothywtron.com/ or see more of his writings HERE