Face East, My Friend

May 15, 2015 | 17 comments

I was out on the roads before dawn this morning, headed to my 5:15 a.m. exercise class. (Allow me to pause briefly to reflect on that sentence, small miracle that it is.)

One of the things that happens when you’re up that early is that you see pre-dawn beauty you ordinarily miss.

And because it’s so early, you can safely come to a full stop on a dirt road and step outside to take a picture with your phone. Which is what I did:

And then, because of the threat of unidentified night critters with beady eyes (and the fact that you watched The Walking Dead the night before), you promptly hop back in your car.

After I snapped the picture, I drove on, into the almost-dawn. I thought a lot about God, and how He makes cool things — like slivers of pearl-moon so we can see in the dark.

And then I thought about you. 

It’s Friday. And some of you have had a really hard week. You feel the opposite of awesome. Best intentions have given way to dashed hopes. You missed the deadline. You burned the pizza. You forgot to set out the trash. You wish you had more pants with elastic waistbands. There was the self-loathing, the teenage drama, the endless stream of your inner critic’s combative commentary. Plus, it’s swimsuit shopping season, and your body is still holding onto its — how shall we say this delicately? — “winter layer.”

It wasn’t all bad, of course. There was Netflix and new baby kittens and a 92-point word on Words with Friends. There was the kid who texted you just to say, “Thanks, Mom.”

So that’s what I was thinking about when I was driving at 5:06 a.m. on a dirt road, under a pearly fingernail of a moon. I was thinking about the good and the ugly and the miraculous. I was think about God, and about you, and that old saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That saying probably isn’t scientifically factual, if you think about it too long, but it makes sense to my spirit. Because, in my life, God’s great light showed up brightest after I’d groped through the dark-i-est dark. If you’ve been reading here long enough, you know I experienced a couple decades of not believing the Jesus story. I wanted to believe, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around such an improbable tale. Those were pitch-dark days, let me tell you, when life is just a rat race and the end is just a grave. There was no such thing as hope.

I won’t ever forget how God rose like the sun on the horizon of my worst fears, and how He pushed back the darkness inch by inch.

I don’t know what your darkness is this week. But I know that some of you are standing in the middle of it. You are on a lonely road, looking for the light, and maybe it feels like a tiny sliver hung in the sky by a God that you’re not even sure is paying attention. Keep facing east, my friend. The light is coming. You can’t see Him yet, but keep facing east, because you will. The Light of the World is rising to push back your dark-i-est dark.

Face east. Here He comes.


by | May 15, 2015 | 17 comments


  1. Marni Gallerneault

    Thank-you for this. Your words are an encouragement, giving a little ray of hope that wasn’t there before I read this.

    • dukeslee

      I am so glad these words brought a ray of hope to you today, Marni. Have a blessed weekend.

  2. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Oh yes…..what else is there but to look to Him? I love you and every bit of your words. That is all.

    • dukeslee

      Well, I love you too, sweet Jody! xo

  3. Barb Nichols

    big sigh…. I WILL lift up my eyes. Thanks dear soul for your words. It has indeed been a tough time lately. I want to crumble. I am so worn. But God is faithful.

    • dukeslee

      Dear Lord,

      I lift up my dear sister, Barb. She is weary and worn and wants to crumble. The Good Book says you are near to the brokenhearted. Be near today. Wrap Barb up in Your arms. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  4. Loved As If

    Your words gave me energy for the next lap. God is faithful even when the huge waves are crashing down. I’ve seen it over and over and need frequent reminders. He has rescued me at the last minute so many times in a life filled with plunges into the depths. There is no hell too deep for God as long as we try to lift our hands, our eyes, our hearts, our longings to Him.

    I am so glad the sun rose for you. so glad you hung in there amid the fear. I pray you know the Son will always rise and we that we will rise with Him if we choose.

    Drusilla Barron

  5. Leah Adams

    “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” I’m holding onto that because it has been pretty dark for quite a spell. Another quote that I’m holding onto is from Tozer: ‘‘It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.’ Expectantly waiting on a blessing. I’m looking east, friend.

  6. karen

    “Face east. Here He comes” LOVE THIS….and the wise men came from the east. So, maybe if I face east I will see buyers coming for my house. (Our contract fell through last week and all of us are sad!)

  7. Ginny

    Thanks for the reminder…..it has been a long haul for my husband & me. His parents are in poor health (86& 90), neither can drive anymore. We are trying to be Jesus to them – helping to meet their needs, while maintaining our jobs, home, and other responsibilities. So many things have been put on ‘the back burner’ so to speak! I’m wondering if we will ever catch up. But I know that our Jesus is good!

  8. Jennifer Camp

    Jennifer, you lift my spirit. Thank you. And, wow, girl, 5:15 class? You. Are. Awesome.

  9. Michele Morin

    Your words minister to tired hearts. Thanks for this shot of hope and beauty.

  10. pastordt

    Thank you, friend. Been sorta darky around here of late, but I see the light. Yes, I do.

  11. Nancy Ruegg

    I cannot imagine the desolation of hopelessness you experienced for so many years, Jennifer– facing pitch-dark days of running the rat race and the end, just a grave. But then I imagine the Sonrise in your life–dazzling, glorious, and life-changing. Praise God, who turns the darkness of our lives and circumstances into light (Psalm 18:28)! And thank you for reflecting that light our way with your heart-touching post!

  12. Paige Estes

    Thought about you this morning, Jenn, as I drove to my 6am exercise class. Sun coming up, no one on the road. Me too, a miracle in itself that I’m getting over there. Trying to take care of myself and not disrupt family’s schedules too much. Even though the pants are still way too tight and the dress wouldn’t zip up yesterday for church. Whew. Good job, girl. Keep at it. Focusing on the process today and not the result.

  13. Lux @ About Life and Love

    It’s very thoughtful of you to post this. And encouraging as always. Not everyone has a good week. We all have our challenges and struggles. We need more inspirations like this.

  14. Rebecca Presnell

    Wonderful thoughts, and quite timely. My Dad was just diagnosed with Stage 4 inoperable liver cancer which has metastasized to his lymph nodes and spine. He is undergoing radiation now, and when that is finished he will begin chemo. We are holding tight to our faith, and remembering that in this, too, we are blessed. We would appreciate your prayers.


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