“His silence stretches over years, over countries, over generations. But it’s not an abandonment, it’s an invitation. It asks something different of us than the fire does. It asks for our trust, for our hope, for us to stay as the night darkens around us and we can’t hear a thing.” ~ Addie Zierman
Night Driving: A Story of Faith In the Dark
Author: Addie Zierman
Published: Convergent Books | March 2016
Length: 240 pages
The silence of God has echoed down the ages, being as tangible to some as His presence. It is quite probable that every great “hero of the faith” has waded through what has been called a night season. The argument could be made that the more saintlike the person, the more darkness they have endured. Think of Bonhoffer lonely in prison, or the deep, lifelong periods of depression faced by Luther, Edwards, Wesley, and Newton. I cannot quote this, but I once heard that Mother Theresa reported the moment when God commissioned her to devote her life to the slum-dwellers of Calcutta as the last time she ever felt his presence.
In Night Driving, Addie Zierman describes the center of her own night season as the gaping hole that used to be filled with “feeling” God. She describes the loss and confusion when the fire of faith has turned to embers and you can do nothing to re-ignite the flame. Zierman doesn’t speak of herself in terms of this heritage of other night dwellers, nor is she concerned with a theological or even scriptural examination of what this dark silence means, or what should be done about it. When you are deep in that black abyss your darkness feels like yours alone, it is but a small comfort that others have worn a similar path; scriptures that you have heard enough times to memorize them hang with a hollow ring.
Instead, Zierman flees her Winter, packing up her two boys and taking a road trip to Florida. On this trip of failed expectations she records a journey that offers us something that more saintly journeys (as inspirational as they can be!) do not: the invitation to enter the tender rawness of her very human experience. With honesty she whines, she rants, she numbs herself with quick fixes and unspiritual hobbies. She speaks with cynicism, and blames her faulty expectations on her evangelical light-the-fire upbringing. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was prepared for such stark honesty when her dead-end cycle dragged on longer than I bargained for.
But something happens in the seemingly solution-less angst. Forced to look in the mirror, can’t you see yourself driving that same escape? In her openness she gives us permission to confess that we settle for quick fixes and play the blame game. We’ve had times where anger and abandonment define our feelings towards God. She won’t judge. Done with pretending to be spiritually minded, this Christian owns her gaping need for grace. Zierman offers her story not as a hero to idolize, but as a sister to shift the load to the other shoulder with.
Is this not fellowship? Limping towards grace together?
There is hope, don’t you worry. But not a tie-it-with-a-bow everything-is-better-now lesson learned. No, it’s what Addie describes as eyes adjusting to the dark, or low tide allowing itself to be pulled down, and down again. When our eyes adapt, what we see is a steadfastness that creeps up almost unawares. We look down at our feet and somehow they are planted on solid ground. This spiritual maturity imparts understanding towards those our un-tried selves might have judged for their weariness or lack of passion. Our gaze subtly shifts from our own great faith to God’s secure hold on our frail frame.
Though no ray of light comes to color-coat the sky, a very clear lesson does emerge, the way an acclimating eye finds that speck of light in the distance to orient itself towards home. That glow reveals that faith is a marriage, not a passionate affair. Faith journeys through seasons, it is not meant to bask in endless morning. Rather than using spiritual practices to make an unspoken demand that God make Himself known to us on own terms, faith submits to the Father who made light and darkness, and to whom the night shines as the day.
I would love to bless someone with this book as it has blessed me. Please comment or click the link below to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a brand new copy of Night Driving! The winner will be selected on Wednesday the 25th.
Review Copy courtesy of Penguin/Random House publishers