Ladder Candles
A flicker is a tenuous dance between death and life. A tense samba threatening to smother an ignition, all the while fighting to combust into abundance.

When the ultrasound tech placed her wand on my stomach at 7 weeks, 5 days pregnant, I expected to see what we had seen at 5 weeks, 2 days pregnant with Nora Beth… the tiny, pulsing flicker of a heartbeat. As I watched that void of nothingness, I felt my own spirit flicker, and something in that space became a void.

A blighted ovum is sneaky… you were wholly pregnant, but without there being anything there. For some amount of time, life flickered and then silently extinguished. I don’t know if that tiny (but massive) life flickered for minutes, hours or days, and while it shreds my core not to know the very moments that it did… and subsequently, the very moment it didn’t, for 11 weeks, my body was fooled into thinking the flicker was still there.

In that moment of recognition that there would be no more flickers, a part of me was extinguished as well. That compartment of faith that held my truest joy, my sincerest hope and my most vibrant faith, smoldered itself out. The miracle wasn’t mine that day.

The thing that feeds dwindling flames is oxygen. Pure air is all it takes to ignite one small flicker into a burning, glorious blaze. My body didn’t provide that fragile life the sustaining air it needed to flourish into a brilliant flame, and a piece of my heart has been withholding air from that same space suffocating within me. It’s fear that’s smothering the flicker that is yearning to shine.

My pastor said some years ago, “I only inhale because He exhales.” My oxygen (both figurative and literal) is available only because the Lord chooses to breathe it into me, and still, a part of my spirit is holding its breath and daring to wonder why I’m choking. A candle cannot burn in a vacuum. Faith cannot blossom nestled inside a cavern of fear. As I hold my breath, I can see the enemy sucking in his, trying to steal more of mine… relishing as I flicker back and forth between defeat and triumph. And I can see also the true and glorious Light, fixing His eyes on me, and gently breathing out His goodness and truth, urging me to just… breathe Him in. To just spark into the brilliance He intends for me with a simple inhalation.

When flickers fade, they leave behind ashes… the sooty traces of doubt, bewilderment, confusion, despair and fear. But when they glow, they radiate warm and luminous flashes that cast light across the shadows and chase away the charred remnants of the thing that wasn’t meant to last. The intensity of the beams that threatened to never exist is awe inspiring. They sought the oxygen, and breathed deeply, filling themselves with the hope of life. A piece of my lungs threatened to collapse and tried to forget the relief of inward breath when my flicker vanished, but my flicker is temporary, and my light is eternal.

“By Your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat. The resurrected King is resurrecting me.” – Elevation Worship

“The moment you taste fear, focus on the good news that you’ve just seen the territory where your faith is about to grow.”
– Christine Caine

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