Something has dawned on me this week. Pardon the pun, but consider Isaiah 9:2 for a moment:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.
I spent a while on my way home from BSF this evening praying about that very thing.
"I just feel like I'm in a shadow," I said to Abba.
This verse from Isaiah came immediately to my mind. The light has already dawned.
This feels confusing at times. It has felt confusing to me for a while. Jesus is the Light of the world, and yet, there is no denying that I've walked through darkness- the valley of the shadow of death. It sounds really creepy, and it is creepy, but that shadow is everywhere because it's sin that brings death- physical death, spiritual death, emotional and relational death. So the shadow of death is everywhere. Everywhere that people sin and don't repent. Everywhere that people prefer lies to truth. Everywhere that people worship some idol, regardless of how good it is, instead of Jehovah. But it doesn't make sense, does it? The light has dawned Past tense.
Jesus is the Light. He said so in John 8:12 "I am the light of the world." So why have I been walking through shadows? Why do I still feel the presence of darkness, thick, sticky with evil so long buried, so precisely disguised that it sometimes literally turns my stomach?
We like to talk about how light dispels darkness, that Christ's light can illuminate sin and drive it away. But that's not always what happens, is it? Isn't there someone you're worried about who doesn't ever change? Isn't there some situation that you've been inviting God into that seems glued shut with supernatural super-glue. Why doesn't the Light shine and get rid of all of that? That's been my question, one that cuts my heart like a razor every time it passes through.
We pray, "God, if you are willing..." like the leper in Matthew 8. Sometimes it's all we can do to get that phrase out, when really in our hearts we're questioning, "God, if you are able..." Or, if not that, then, "God, if you actually really do care about me at all, then... will you please heal the cancer, convict the sinner, save the family member, correct the mistake, heal the broken heart or the broken hand or the broken family..."
The Light has already dawned... so why are there still shadows?
God used a situation close to me to illuminate the answer. My dad is running for judge. God's honest truth: he ought to win. If life operated under any sort of code of reaping and sowing that was limited by the time frame of one's life, then there is NO DOUBT- he should win. He has sown marvelously. Decades of hard work. Dedication to the law, to family, to community. Worship of the One True God. Advocacy for the oppressed. Forgiveness in light of wrongs so grievous I literally cannot bear to talk about them (keep in mind I am one of the ones who wronged him) What should he reap? A seat on a judge's bench. So why have I prayed, with tears, over the past couple of days that God's favor would rest upon Him, win or lose. Did you get that? Win OR lose.
Because sowing and reaping, light and darkness, truth and lies- they're a matter of time. And that time is not the time that we are used to. I have poised my prayers to the Lord regarding my dad's campaign in this way, "Lord, I know that you are able, if you are willing, let him win. He would make a great judge."
"If you are willing..." sounds awfully spiritual, doesn't it? Also sounds doubt-infused in light of how certain I am that his sowing merits a harvest. That's right, merits. Why? Because he has done such great works that he deserves a pay off? No. Not based on what he has done, based on what God has said. And that is the light that has dawned, and it shines brilliantly this moment.
Will my dad be a judge? Yes. Not only because he has sown well, and God's promise is that if we sow well, we reap well, but also because 1 Corinthians 6:3 promises that he will be... check it out:
Do you not know that we will judge angels?
He will be a judge in a heavenly courtroom one day. He might lose this election, but he will reap well. It's just a matter of time.
And that's why I can still feel the chill of the shadows I have to walk through. Because the light has dawned, and darkness will be completely
gone, but it's a matter of time. Not time until the next election or the next Sunday service or the next Christian conference or Bible study. Those are ways to pass time. But time is not in our control. But there is One who is keeping perfect time.
Sometimes honest people who work hard and help others win elections. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the calloused heart of the one for whom we pray becomes soft and new. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the lie that is told about us is corrected and fellowship is restored. Sometimes it isn't. But it's all a matter of time.
The light has dawned and He will not be mocked. He promises to uphold His people and to elevate those who have chosen a posture of humility. He promises to free all of us with His Truth, which no man or woman or child will be able to ignore. He promises to make our hearts whole and our bodies new and to give us a song of praise to sing forever. He promises to shine- so brightly that our eternal city won't need a sun or moon or any other light.
What's dawned on me tonight is that none of those promises fall underneath the "if you are willing..." category. They are definite. Those who trust in Him will NOT be put to shame. Truth will be the law of the land- total, complete, brilliant Truth- not our own personal version of it, like we try to pass off to one another here. Darkness will flee. Evil will die. Justice and righteousness will reign. And peace, shalom- the wholeness that can come only from oneness with God- will rule our hearts. Nothing will be broken. No one will be disappointed. And there will e nothing at all to fear. It's not His "willingness" that will bring about these things. It's His zeal (Isaiah 9:7)- His overpowering passion that will accomplish these things. It's just a matter of time...