Darkest Before the Dawn

            Some scientists claim the adage, ‘darkest before the dawn’ is not accurate in the reality of the depth of the dark skies in those early morning hours. They do concur, though, the earth radiates its heat throughout the night and just before the dawn, most of the earth’s absorbed heat from the previous day of sunshine has been dissipated back to the atmosphere. It may not be darkest before the dawn; but in a quote of one writer, “it is the coldest and most miserable.”

                Let’s stay with the darkest part of the night idea. Scientists do agree the lunar cycle will provide times when the moon is not visible and the night is darkest. Working midnight shift in law enforcement patrol for more than a dozen years probably allows me to say I find it darkest somewhere between 5 and 6 am. Maybe that is just me!

               I certainly can argue in support of the biblical statement in John 3:19, “…men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. “ Police work on the night shift  will allow even the sharpest skeptic to understand that verse.

A totally non-scientific idea about how light bulbs light a room claims it is NOT because the light bult puts out light,  rather it sucks in the darkness, which makes the room bright! The argument contends all you need do is look at a light bulb which is ‘burnt out’ and no longer working. What color is it? It’s completely dark on the inside. “See,” they say! “It got as  full of darkness as it could and then it quit working.” Light created because darkness defeated! An interesting concept!

MIT scientists have shown the light of a single candle on a dark night can be seen up to 30 miles away. A single candle. Can you imagine how far a married candle could be seen? Okay, bad joke, I get it. I just couldn’t help myself.

               Do you ever feel like you are not making any difference in the world for Christ? Ever think, ‘well, its just me and I really cannot do much on my own’…

30 miles, 1 candle, lots of darkness.

You do not have to go to the far reaches of Africa or Asia. There is plenty of darkness right outside your door. Maybe there is a lot of darkness within your home! No matter where you find the darkness, this is what Jesus said, “I am the light world” (John 8:12) and if you can carry the Gospel into the darkness, you will fulfill another Bible passage, “Let your light so shine among men that they will glorify your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:16)


Honestly, I have felt much more like the light bulb which is burnt out from sucking in all the darkness, trying to bring light to the dark. What I need to do is refocus on letting Christ’s light shine in me… I cannot create the light. I cannot suck away the darkness. I can only reflect God’s light, Jesus, into the darkness of the world around me. Someone once said, we should be glad when we feel compltely surrounded by darkness, because then the candle we carry for Christ will be seen so much better.
Thirty miles…
Thirty Mile Lighthouse on Lake Ontario

             

Out of the Darkness

In the classic story by Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the book; not the made for TV movie, there is a moment high atop Mt. Crumpet where the Grinch had taken all of the Who’s Christmas… to dump it! In that moment, according to the good doctor, there is a sound wafting over the snow. What he writes next is so critical to our understanding of how, at times, God speaks into our lives. “It started in low. Then it began to grow…”[i] What is important to note here is that, for the Grinch to hear it, he had to stop what he was doing even though he was teetering on the precipice of a bodacious cliff and was so close to completing a task that he had set out to do. He had to STOP right then and LISTEN or he might have missed it completely!

How often have we missed hearing what God has for us because we just had to finish this one thing or I have such an urgent issue right now that I better take care of it first? Being on a precipice of a cliff can meet that standard! Elijah had to wait for the whirlwind to pass before he eventually heard God’s still, small voice. (1 Kings 19) We can receive an incredible blessing if we just listen. Sometimes, it comes in the sweet soft melodies of a beautifully played flute and at other times it can ring out of the darkness in a crescendo of sound that says to us in no uncertain terms, Christ is King eternal, righteous, and holy forevermore!

Across the platform in the building, where our part of the church meets for worship, is our wonderful worship team. From singers and soloists to musicians, we are truly blessed to have such a dedicated team. The platform is mostly showered in light with more to the front and fading toward the back. Along one side it is noticeably darker. In the recesses of those shadows is one musician. I wonder often how she can see her music score in such darkness; but, she obviously does and does so very well. At times, one has to be really listening to the music to hear a sweet counter-melody of a flute whispering so gently out of that darkness. At other times, in the height of a crescendo of praise rings out the punctuation of the chimes that brings chills to the neck and thrills the soul. As quickly as either began, they end. The darkness again envelopes the sound and the musician. Very nearly invisible; yet so incredibly powerful.

Have you experienced hearing God’s voice to you, out of the darkness? At times when we are so incredibly busy or teetering on the precipice of an emotional cliff, comes the sweet soft melody of a flute, the sound of voices singing in the distance, the voice of a friend, or a sense of awe from reading God’s Word; the right passage at just the right time. At other times, when the darkness threatens to overcome us and swallow us up into a place of non-existence, God also speaks. His voice resounds through the darkness as sharply as the mallet upon the chime declaring to us His nearness which beckons us to come back to the safety of His arms.

In whatever way that God is speaking to you; STOP and LISTEN; for the blessing you are about to receive is wondrous indeed. Dr. Seuss wrote that the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day. I don’t know about that, particularly; but I do know, your heart will never be the same.

[i] Seuss, Dr., How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Random House: NY 1957

Shadows

“…it made me wonder how many shadows I have left behind.”

Recently I had the opportunity to do something very different…. it caused me to think about something that I don’t believe I’ve ever considered before. How many shadows have I left behind after I have moved on? What made me ask such a question was a photo I took of my son Daniel’s shadow on the beach the other day. There it was, plainly visible on the sand and I snapped a photo of it and then we started to walk on but as we did, I looked at the photo and the shadow was still clearly there, on the sand. No, it hadn’t really stayed behind, only the image on my camera but it made me wonder how many shadows I have left behind.

We talk about the impact that someone has had on our life, usually for the good, sometimes not. We say how they influenced us or made our day brighter. What about those who cast a shadow across your life – not really there, not making a bold presence known or a physical reality of their time in your life but those who are just a shadow passing by? Shadow  In the Bible there are times when those who wre sick and injured just waited for the disciples to pass by so that if Peter’s shadow would fall across them they could be healed. It was just his shadow, nothing more except that the Holy Spirit was empowering his shadow to bring the healing to others.

In Acts 5 we read: ” And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.  And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

Shadows are often connected to darkness… lurking in the shadows, the shadow of death, while people were residing in the shadows…  Yet, shadows cannot exist without light and the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Although an oxymoron perhaps, it seems that normally when light increases, dark decreases but not when it comes to the shadows.

How often have we allowed our shadows to cross one another’s paths without notice, without real contact and an unawareness of the brightness of the light that has brought those shadows together?

Think on your shadow. How many shadows have you left behind? How dark is the shadow you leave because of the brightness of the light within you?

Just something to ponder.

The New King James Version. 1982 (Ac 5:12–16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.