Three years ago this fall, I quietly faced one of the bleakest seasons of my life. People and roles and thoughts I used to cover myself peeled away like discarded labels, leaving me unclothed and uncategorized. I had no home. I was no one. And God was silent.

When the face of the Lord goes dark, where do you turn?

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him…

And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isaiah 8:16-20)

I’d never really read these verses before studying them now — never focused on what they meant. But this charge from Isaiah is the battle cry that saved me in the end.

To the teaching and to the testimony!

And when they say to you, Kelly, inquire of the mediums and the magazines and the books and the blogs and the voices who chirp and mutter and tear down truth instead of build it up, shouldn’t you ask God instead? Should you rely on the world He created more than the Creator Himself?

To the scripture and the stories!

When the face of the Lord goes dark, we can run to cover ourselves with the shreds of the world. I tried to. Success and pleasure and praise — the advoidance and distraction of media — the comforting, soft lies of “being myself” — the advice from people who know nothing of eternity.

Or we can hold fast to the scripture and cling to the story of who we really are, which is what God has done and been for us and called us through His Son.

If we don’t come back to this — if we don’t eventually speak according to this word, it’s because we have no dawn; we never saw the light of day in the first place.

When the face of the Lord goes dark, where do we turn?

To the teaching and to the testimony!

First, we must get up and go to. We are not passive, just swallowing all that the world sends us, trying to satisfy our hunger for connection and meaning with digital air. There’s a reason they call Facebook a feed.

Second, we go to the teaching, to the truth, to the scripture. We see it, we hear it, we touch it, we devour it — we fast from other things until it smells good and tastes salty and fills us up again.

And third, we go to the testimony — to the stories — to the arc of God’s faithfulness and sustaining grace over His history and our own. We sit at the table and retell the good things He has done.

We remind ourselves He wrote our beginnings, and that darkness in the middle is sometimes what drives us to the light of His good and pleasing ends.