When the World Feels Too Dark

Do you know how your eyes adjust to the darkness after you’ve been in the dark for a while? And then, when someone else comes from a brightly-lit room into the darkness, the person can only see the pitch black around him and maybe a few random shapes. But you can still see everything because your eyes have already adjusted. 

So you guide him with your voice. You take him by the hand around the dresser, help him around the lamp, tell him to step over the shoe. You become his eyes for a moment... until he adjusts to the darkness too. 

And to me, this is a beautiful picture of walking with God in a community through the hard seasons. 

Because when you first get the diagnosis or the phone call or the realization of the broken relationship, you can’t make sense of anything. You panic and question and try to blindly trudge your way forward with each step, afraid and unsure. 

But then you hear a voice who says, “I’ve been there, too. Walk toward me.” You are seemingly out of options, at the end of your rope. So you follow the voice. With time, your eyes adjust to your surroundings and you no longer feel so helpless. Your surroundings are pretty bad, yeah, but you can see parts of the bigger picture now. You can see glimpses of how this might even be good. 

Then you notice someone else enter the darkness, lost and confused and broken, just as you were when you arrived in this place. So you speak encouragement and guidance because you know how badly you needed the person who guided you not that long ago. And so we imitate the Truth-teller; we say, “I know how hard this is for you. I know the fear you have. But I see you. And I am going to stay right here to help you take the next step and then the next, no matter how long it takes.”

This is what it looks like to live out Gospel-centered community. We allow the person ahead of us to show us the map. We give away grace. We stay when it would be easier to leave. We become a listener, an encourager, a safe place to land in a world full of chaos. We lean over to our beggar-neighbor and tell them where to find the bread. We were never meant to save anyone, but we can remind one another who does save. 

So when the pain is so very real and the world feels entirely too dark, let’s keep reminding one another, “This isn’t all there is. The darkness won’t last forever. There is light coming, babe. There is light coming. And you won’t be alone, not even for a moment.”


Some Hearts

Some hearts really know how to belly laugh

Even if it’s not a good punch line


Some hearts live in a confetti world

Where dreaming feels better and safe


Some hearts embrace those gloomy, rainy days

Even though they’d rather have sunshine

they’re learning how to wait


Some hearts have a lot of practice in breaking

or in walking away

They are learning that healing takes time

And God’s timing is never too late


In all of the hearts

In every imaginable place

I just hope you know

Your heart is not beating by mistake

And your messy, complicated, beautiful life?

It is not a waste


God loves you fiercely, my dear

So I’ll say this louder

For the people in the back:

You matter here.

Alex Fly
A Beloved Fixer Upper

If my soul were a home, it would be a little brick cottage. There would be a great big welcome mat, and you could see footprints where it had been trampled a few times. You would have to wiggle the door handle, but in time it would open; it was never locked in the first place.

There would be a cabinet of chipped china, but you would learn to admire the broken pieces because the stories behind them were always worth hearing again. Everything would be a little messy, with books all over the floor and half-filled cups of coffee in every room, but you could tell that the owner liked it that way.

Words would be drawn on the walls in crayons and paint, and you’d recognize that the century-old passages were integral to the entire structure. If you tried to erase them, parts of the ceiling would start to fall and disperse.

The hallways would have “Do Not Enter” signs scattered all over the floors— like they had been removed from the doorways grudgingly but necessarily. Almost all of the doors to the rooms would be open so that you could see the light spilling into your path. You could see that some rooms were brighter than others, but you’d notice the light everywhere—like Someone Else was footing the power bill.

Eventually you would wander into the kitchen, but you’d quickly realize it was under construction. There would be cabinets off the walls; it would be missing an oven and have debris all over the countertops. You would notice the Carpenter in there and ask what’s going on. He might smile at you and say, “Don’t you just love this house?” You’d probably look at Him confusedly because it seems a little chaotic, but He would keep talking, “Just wait—this room is going to be good. It might even turn out to be the very best part.”

Twenty Eighteen.

This year I tiptoed around the battlefield, waiting for the next explosion. Looking for the next landmine. Crying out for the battle to stop, for the war to end. I had no more weapons and I was just so worn out from all the fighting.

This year played out like a sad movie. I kept the tissues close, begging the cheerful parts to show up, waiting for the celebrations in the final scenes. In a way, I suppose we’re all still waiting on that happy ending. 

This year looked like a boxing match. I had my fists up, but the hits kept coming. One after the other, I grew weaker, more vulnerable and unsteady. I slowly but surely fell to the ground, unable to remain standing. A total knockout. 

And— you know what? 

There is a strange kind of freedom in falling. 

Looking back on the whirlwind of 2018, I see a lot of darkness. But I also see the light peeking through. Because even in the darkest night, there is the moon. There is the promise that the night will not last forever. A new day is coming, a new sunrise. New morning mercies. With this hope, we make it through the night. We trust in the something bigger, something better, something holier—a beckoning heavenward. At the end of the year, I still find myself repeating this simple prayer that says a lot: You are God, and I am not.

We can’t miss it, though. Even if we are in the trenches, we can’t miss those glimpses of glory all around us. The jaw-dropping sunsets and tiny hand squeezes. The smile from a stranger and the kindness of a friend. Swapping presents and hugs and funny Netflix shows. Remembering those loved ones we lost. Songs of hope found in a manger; flames burning in the dark. The singing of the church choir and the steam from a coffee cup. The laughter from the next room and the crackling fire and way the leaves dance in the wind. 

Because we might just notice how all of heaven and nature sing: 

A beautiful surrender. 

The drumbeats of grace.

The subtle echoes of eternity. 


Alex Fly
Idols in the Wilderness

I can’t stop thinking about the Israelites these days. The running from the Egyptians and the making of golden idols. Moses and Aaron and Joshua. The complaining and the manna and the Ark of the Covenant. The walking through the wilderness. The promise of a new land. 

We like to highlight the big moments—the burning bush and baby Moses in a basket. The plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. The water coming from the rock and the Ten Commandments. Moses and God talking to each other on a mountain. 

But I can’t get over how long they spent in the wilderness. How many days the Israelites spent set up at camp, waiting on God’s promises to be fulfilled. How many moments they must have thought, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” 

No matter how many times we’ve seen the miracles, the walking through the wilderness can leave us questioning everything, can’t it? There is a little seed of doubt that says, “Maybe God won’t show up this time,” so we quickly turn to anything and everything to fill our needs. In the toughest moments—when we should be falling on faith, we often end up acting out of fear.

 We take matters into our own hands, making ourselves into our own kind of savior. We keep ourselves busy, thinking we can distract ourselves long enough to ignore the tough terrain. We buy useless things. We comfort ourselves with food. We push ourselves with workouts and push away the people who care for us most. 

All we are really doing is building a golden calf and calling it god. 

 We can easily laugh at the building of a golden idol, but it quickly becomes convicting when the idols show up as family members or technology, meals or money, careers or clothes. None of these are inherently bad; they just make crappy gods. They aren’t worth our worship. They can never bring the satisfaction or joy or peace that our Savior provides. 

In both the good and bad seasons: if we aren’t turning to Jesus, we are turning to something else. And gosh, we don’t have to fight to turn toward worldly things; that current will sweep us up naturally if we aren’t constantly humbling ourselves at the feet of the King and saying, “God, I need you. Nothing in my hands I bring, only to the cross I cling.” 

I don’t know where you are right now, whether you are walking through the wilderness or soaking up the sun in a land flowing with milk and honey. But here’s what I do know: none of us completely escape the hard stuff. All of us will walk through the wilderness at some point. We might even set up camp there for a while. 

So, if and when you find yourself feeling broken and full of despair, lean in close to Jesus. When everything in you wants to run away screaming about the unfairness of it all, open up His Word and start reading. Pray when you don’t feel like it. Press into community when you’d rather walk alone. This is the way we will make it through the wilderness. Maybe you don’t need these reminders, but I definitely do.

And when we look up from our own stumbling feet and notice that God is walking with us through the hard places, we can rejoice because God is doing a work in us; He is sanctifying our souls for our good and for His glory. 

This does not mean it will be easy, but the time spent in the wilderness will be worth it


A Note for the Runaways

When the woods grew darker

And the shame settled in

You looked down 

And started running

From grace, from God,

From hope


It seemed easier in the shadows at first

But then you looked up

You got a glimpse of the light


Because the really good news goes like this


No matter how far you travel

Or how much the darkness 

takes over the night

You are never alone

His grace is waiting right there

Ready to greet you 

Ready to welcome you home 


You might even learn 

It’s okay to run

As long as you’re heading in the right direction

And what you want

May not be what you need


I suppose that sometimes

You need to sit in the darkness

So you can be blinded the light.

Alex Fly
Oz & The Old Testament

I am reading through the Old Testament right now. It’s a little like showing up in Oz, walking down the Yellow Brick Road and trying to find your way in a strange land. You see a lot of things that don’t make sense. You notice some odd characters. The lion and tin man and scarecrow show up as food falling from the sky and a talking donkey and a bunch of complaining people marching through a sea. But you keep walking along... because surely this all leads somewhere good? 


The crossing of the Red Sea is a story we’ve probably all heard a time or two. The Israelites, led by Moses, have left Egypt and they’re headed toward the Promised Land. But then Pharaoh ups and takes his army after them, thinking the Israelites will be trapped in the wilderness and he will defeat them in no time.  

The Israelites panic, questioning God and Moses and their willingness to leave Egypt in the first place. (If you’ve read Exodus before, you know this happens a ridiculous number of times and grow frustrated with the Israelites before realizing you are just like them.)

And then something really crazy happens. God uses Moses to divide the water, and they walk THROUGH THE ACTUAL SEA on dry ground, chariots and all. When the Egyptians try to follow, it doesn’t work out so well for them. 

Here’s the thing: since we know the story pretty well, it often seems harder to meditate on the important events that are happening. But when we take the time to look closely and soak in the verses? Gosh, we might just see the Creator behind all of the curtains.

If you have a moment, take some time to read through Exodus 14 (I’ve also included it at the bottom of this post for you).

I know that was lengthy, but hang with me for a second for a few reflections from this passage:

1.    God is after His own glory. And His glory is what’s best. (v. 4, 18, 31)

At the end of the day, God is going to be glorified. There’s no doubt about it. And if we are wise, we will live out a constant desire to display the Lord’s magnificence. We will want His glory above our own, because His glory is what’s best for every single person on the planet. 

2.    No matter how many times we doubt, God remains faithful. (v. 10-12)

The Israelites feared for their lives, but God came through. How many other times do we see His faithfulness despite His people’s failures play out? Scripture is filled with this story. My life is filled with this story. Praise the Lord that His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.   

3.     It’s important to proclaim truth in tough situations. (v. 13-14) 

Even if it’s preaching to yourself. Even if you don’t feel like it. Show up for your people through prayer and encouraging verses. Show up for yourself by going back to the Truth in God’s Word, over and over again. 

4.     God will lead the way, but He also works behind the scenes. (v. 19)

I love that God led the way in a pillar of cloud, but the scary part is when He goes behind the Israelites, coming between them and the Egyptians. God often does His best work behind the scenes, which is honestly pretty frustrating. We want to see the whole plan, but a lot of life requires heaps of trust. A lot of life looks like wandering through the wilderness. We have to believe the Lord keeps His promises, even when we can’t see the Promised Land.

5.     The Lord shows mercy to His people(v. 26-31)

Let’s not miss this: God saves His people AGAIN despite their grumbling hearts and bad attitudes. And anytime we see redemption in the Bible? We know that we are being pointed toward the ultimate redemption: Jesus. The Lord continuously shows extravagant mercy to His people, y’all. What a beautiful and holy Gospel this is. 


There’s one more verse I want to highlight here. Exodus 14:14 reads:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. 

Now, I don’t think this means to be passive or still in the literal sense (although sometimes we do need to slow down). But in this passage, the Israelites are about to march through the Red Sea and Moses needs them to get their butts in gear. When I read this verse a few weeks ago, I completely lost my cool. Because I read it as a command to surrender, to have faith in the God who is on our side, who is after our best and His glory. 

How many times do I try to do all the things? How many times do I try to take control of the situation or plan out every detail? How many times do I turn to anxiousness or fear when I should be turning to God? How many times do I respond to tough situations just like the Israelites?

The answer to all of the above: Too. many. times.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord of the Universe is fighting for us! Let’s loosen our grips on our own plans and the ways we think they should play out.

Let’s lay down all of the things we were never meant to carry and follow Him into the better Promised Land.



Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen[a] and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed[b] the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.”27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward[c] it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Alex Fly
A Teacher of Kindness
Kaki photos-p1.jpg

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. - Proverbs 31:26

Kaki was not one for dramatic gestures or spotlights, but her beautiful life was made up of a million tiny moments where she faithfully showed up to love others in humility and patience, teaching and listening with kindness and truth. 

She taught us how to garden and spell and speak Spanish. She passed on a love for literature and learning and telling stories. She and Bigdaddy took us on trips to Disney World, Mentone and Europe, and a thousand other places where our imaginations could go even when our feet couldn’t. But most of all, our Kaki showed us the love of Jesus through the way she lived her entire life.

She was never too busy or hurried for us-- but would sit for hours and listen to a little girl’s ramblings and jokes and songs. She listened when that same little girl felt too small and afraid to go to Sunday School by herself, so Kaki went to class with her that first Sunday and then every Sunday after that, never leaving her side to make her feel a little braver and a little less alone. 

All along, Kaki was giving us beautiful glimpses of our God, who never leaves us in our fear or doubting or rambling prayers, but remains the steadfast Immanuel, God with us. 

Because of this Christ-like love she gave us, we never had to doubt, not even for a moment, that we were so wonderfully cherished. We never had to doubt that we mattered to God and we mattered to her. 

Even in her last days, I am confident that she was still listening to us as we told stories and sang songs, as we tried to give back a small portion of all the things she gave to us simply by showing up, hoping to make her feel a little braver and a little less alone until she was safely in the arms of Jesus. 

We are going to miss our Kaki deeply, but we are also rejoicing in the God who fully heals and restores. What an honor it is to be her granddaughter and what a hope we have in Jesus that we will see her again.

In loving memory of Carolyn Reeser

Alex Fly