Believing Is Seeing, Pt. 2
Luke 18:17 "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive
the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (ESV)
Welcome back! Hanging around upside down is easier for little children than for people like you and me. But it's not the only thing that easier for them. Jesus said that faith comes naturally for a child. When it gets dark, or they happen to be scared, they simply cry out and believe that mommy or daddy will come to their rescue. Oh, that we could learn to do the same thing with God!
Now that we're all grown up, let’s shed some light on walking in the darkness. How do you define the darkness? One person might say, “Every time I balance my bank statement at the end of the month, it looks bleak.” Another might say, “When the doctor gives me the results of a test or a physical, I sometimes feel despair.” An empty nester once said to me, “As my children left home one by one, the void was overwhelming.”
Marriage problems, turmoil in the workplace or at school, sudden changes, significant emotional burdens and stress can blot out one’s ability to see clearly. It reminds me of the ninth plague in Egypt. Darkness blotted out the sun. It was a deep, suffocating gloom that oppressed even the strong and mighty. The Bible says the Egyptians could actually “feel” the darkness. Imagine that.
Some people are obsessed with their personal darkness. It leaks out in their conversations. It shows on their countenance. It oozes from every pore. They feel that life is unfair and that they have somehow been singled out to handle a greater share of misfortune than everybody else. Unfortunately, this obsession only makes matters worse, both for them and anyone who steps in their path.
The Bible gives reference to several types and conditions of darkness. Let's consider four. First, and perhaps the most significant type, is the darkness of sin. In John 8:12 Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
It is impossible to walk in sin when you are following in Jesus’ steps. He never sinned, so you will never follow Him into sin. In order to sin, you must stray.
I was preaching in a revival away from home when I got an emergency phone call from Cherry. Our two dogs had escaped from the backyard. They were nowhere to be found. Cherry drove up and down the streets, calling their names, weeping, and pleading for them to come home, eager to see their faces again.
When I returned home, the two dogs were still missing. There was a cloud of darkness over our home. The gate to the backyard was propped open for the first time since we had lived there, hoping against hope they would return on their own. Cherry, our two sons, and I had a hard time looking through the window into the backyard. It seemed so vacant and bleak.
A day later we received a phone call from the veterinarian. Someone had found a Beagle and a Dalmatian a few blocks away from our house. He only knew of one family crazy enough to have such a odd canine mixture.
Contact was made. Cherry ran over to the house and found her precious strays. But they were doing just fine. They were well fed. They had been showered with affection, attention, and delicate treats. Our two dogs behaved as though they were quite happy to stay in their new home—the home of their wandering.
Are you content to stay in the home of your wandering? No one will love you like your one and only Master. Sin makes a very good entertainer, but a very poor lord. Jesus has only two words for you when you stray, “Come home!” There is an old hymn that goes like this,
Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s watching and waiting,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home:
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling.
Calling, O sinner, come home.
There is a second type of darkness—the darkness of the sinful world in which we live.
Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (NIV)
The entire earth is shrouded in the shadow of death. One day it will be destroyed by fire. Its days are numbered. “How many?” you might ask. Scientists believe the sun will expand into a red giant in a few million years, vaporizing our planet. We might call that “global warming on steroids.” I’m pretty confident that before this happens, we will be living on a new earth.
The Bible says that the world is passing away, along with its pride and lust, 1 John 2:16-17. However, there is a “great light” that has “dawned” in our dark world—Jesus, the light of the word. He is the brightest spot in human history. No one outshines Him.
In the field of ethics, He is the brightest moral light to invade our understanding of right and wrong. In the field of psychology, He is the most discerning man to shed light on the condition of the human soul. In the field of science, He is only man who demonstrated miraculous control over the laws of nature. In philosophy, no one has matched His wisdom. In the social sciences, no man can claim the number of hospitals, orphanages, and houses of worship that are attributed to the name of Jesus.
Mere observation proves that darkness cannot overpower the light. As long as the light is present, it defeats the darkness. Your world may seem very dark to you. But,
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2 (NIV)
Third, there is the darkness of circumstances.
Ps 107:14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. (NIV)
Are you wearing any chains right now? How would you like to get rid of them? If you understand this one truth, it will set you free. Here it is: You don’t control the circumstances of life. This is God’s job. If you try and control them, you are trying to do what only God can do. Stop trying to be God. This was the original temptation in the Garden of Eden.
Make a commitment that today you will resign as the general manager of the universe. If you let God control the circumstances of life, your life will no longer be out-of-control. And more importantly, let God control you too. Don’t believe the myth that you are in control. You only have influence. Use it wisely in the areas where you can make a difference. This is the path to peace while living in this dark world.
Fourth, there is the darkness of the soul.
Job 35:10 “But no one says, `Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night.’” (NIV)
If ever a man wrestled with demons in the darkness it was Job. He faced bitter loss, despair, confusion, and the blackest grief. Sometimes a man or a woman can be swallowed in the muck and mire of the darkest emotions. It’s painful to watch someone you love journey down that path. It’s overwhelming when it happens to you.
I have a simplified approach to dealing with painful emotions. I look at it this way. God allows them. That’s right! Nothing happened to Job that God didn’t allow. Some people have a hard time reconciling a God of love who allows His children to suffer. I don’t.
I have heard people who sing in the darkness. Joni broke her neck in a diving accident. Today she ministers to millions of people with paralysis. What a song! David Ring was born with cerebral palsy. His sermons begin with the statement, “I was born with cerebral palsy. What’s your excuse?” What a song! Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner abused in a Nazi concentration camp. She forgave her abusers. What a song!
Whenever I am in the darkness, I realize it has been darker for others. And yet, they still sang songs in the night. God allows the suffering of the soul to demonstrate His power through you. It’s one of the greatest tests you will face in life. But if you pass the test, you’ll have a testimony. You will find your greatest strength comes from sharing, openly and honestly what God has done to deliver you from the blackest of nights. So sing!
One more thing, God did not preserve His own Son from facing the darkness. In fact, after three hours on the cross, darkness sat on top of Golgotha. It was midnight at midday. God turned out the lights on His own Son. But He defeated the darkness. He demonstrated His power over it by the resurrection. By that one act, He clearly presents Himself as the One who can give you a song to sing in the night. I’m glad He didn’t run away from the darkness. He now owns it and has dominion over it.
Be sure to come back for "Believing is Seeing," Part 3.Tweet