Intimately Close! In Darkness God Does His Greatest Work

Intimately Close

When I don’t sense God’s Presence, He is intimately close; when I don’t see His face, I am known, found and seen by Him. He directs each of our lives with intricate precision.

In some areas, I can already see beauty and purpose coming from burnt-out ashes. Other places of my life still appear unproductive at best, and honestly desolate at other times. I see woven through the years God-given relationships and opportunities that no human could have orchestrated..

Daniel said,

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his . . .
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.”
Daniel 2:20-22

When fear attempts to convince me that things have become so dark and desperate, even God can’t see, I’m reminded that He does His greatest work in the deepest darkness. Light lives within Him and originates from Him.

Deep Darkness

The first words of the Bible give a strong clue to the consistent thread of God’s Presence.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Genesis 1:1

Confusion and foreboding drenched the formless, empty darkness of pre-creation. Right there! Amid that darkness, God was. This darkness preceded and surpassed anything humans have experienced. Nothing we could ever know compares to it.

God Created

Here God performs His first work, speaking all of creation into existence and transforming complete chaos into divine order. Elohim, the first Hebrew word to define God, contains within its context “the God of covenant.” Before we existed, God already reveals Himself as One who is intimately close.

The Paradox

We always find within the magnitude of God a paradox. Light and darkness is one.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you; God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5

And,

” . . . God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light . . . “
1 Timothy 6:15-16

God possesses light, spoke light into existence, lives in light, and is light. And yet . . .

“The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
Psalm 97:1-2

When God brings about His divine works, He often chooses the cover of darkness. Here the psalmist proclaims God’s redemptive work under the cover of thick darkness. Here, in darkness, God comes intimately close.

Conceived in Darkness

At night

This morning, I read again how God chose a young woman, Mary, to bring forth His Son through a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. She humbly surrendered, though the details were scant and personal cost great.

Who saw that move of the Holy Spirit? No witnesses presided over the occasion of God whooshing through the dark night impregnating a virgin with divine life. Under the cloak of darkness, God became man. Under the cover of darkness, He was born. To humble shepherds, “living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night,” angels came, brightening the starry sky with intense light while declaring the good news.

God came to dwell with man — intimately close.

The Darkest Dark

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) . . . With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
Mark 15:33-38

Though it was high noon, suddenly God turned day to night. Once more, in darkness, He moved toward mankind, obliterating all separation between Him and His created ones.

Storm Night

Such intimate closeness is not to be gawked at by ignorant scoffers and mockers.

Conceived in darkness and born in the night, Jesus died alone on a cross in eerie untimely darkness. For me and you! For all! In darkness, Jesus crushed the head of Satan, delivering a mortal wound!

Before Morning Light

For three days He lay breathless surrounded by utter darkness, wrapped in grave clothes, hidden in a cold dank tomb. A handful of women came with spices to pay Him final honor.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
Luke 20:1

Before dawn

“While it was still dark,” He conquered the last and greatest foe. Jesus did it! He rose from the dead and through His resurrection granted the same life to all who would believe.

Intimately Close

I have no idea what you are facing today. It may very well seem to be the greatest darkness you have ever encountered. Circumstances beyond your control may have snatched all hope from your future.

Take courage. Just as in the past, God is intimately close today, right now, where you are. Nothing and no one can keep Him away.

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than your own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”
A.W. Tozer

Above the Darkness

Though I don’t have opportunity to fly often, it amazes me how above the clouds the sun shines every day and the stars light the sky at night. Storms may rage below, but above the clouds visibility seems endless.

May we all learn to view things from above, rather than below. May we develop a sense of God’s deep moving and grand work amid our darkest times. Later, we will see clearly how intimately close He has always been; now we trust.

Light Shines Brightest in Darkness – Let Light be Seen!

Light shines brightest in darkness. Light, even the smallest flicker of light, draws our attention in the midst of thick darkness. Whatever we focus on, we will ultimately see; will our focus be on evil and darkness or on goodness and light?

My husband and I have almost completed a total house renovation. Yes, it has taken almost ten years, but the end is in sight. The basement presented the last project challenge to check off our list. Divided into many compact rooms and a long hallway, light from three small windows had a negligible effect on the dark, clamminess of the space. Even the grandchildren were afraid to enter without the comforting hand of an adult.

Not any more! With walls reconfigured, windows exposed, bright colors and an abundance of light, we tease, “Sunglasses needed below!”

What a difference light makes! Light shines brightest in darkness.

Light Wins

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:5

I stand in full agreement with the Apostle John. Whenever light and darkness battle, light always wins. As a matter of fact, we need never worry about darkness, just turn on a light.

“Shines” honestly means to “show.” Sometimes in prayer, I ask, “Let Your light show up here, Lord!”

Do you ever feel like that? Like it’s time for light to shine and be seen?

Lantern

It’s always a magnificent time to lighten up a spot, but there are those times when you know it’s time, if ever there was a time, now is it! It’s time for light to shine!

When light comes, darkness immediately disappears. No contest!

I’m no Greek scholar, but even I catch the drift of the power of light in this verse. καταλαμβάνω (katalambanó), translated “overcome,” violently declares, “Not today satan! You’re done!” The word means to seize so completely that the adversary doesn’t even comprehend what happened, to take captive so firmly there is no escape, and to overtake so decisively there is no opportunity for rebound.

Light shines brighter than darkness, always winning.

Light Shines

Not only does light always win, but light glorifies God.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Matthew uses simple logic. Who turns on a light and then purposely hides it? I do; we do. I don’t mean to offend, but it’s the truth. How often do I have an opportunity to allow Christ, in me, to be seen, but don’t? Honestly, too often!

Lightbulbs

Matthew points to us and says, “You’re it. You are the light the world desperately seeks. Without you, the light won’t shine.”

We, in false humility, stammer, justify and excuse our lack of light shining. Matthew’s words are anything but critical — only encouraging. “Heh people, remember that God is in you; He is with you; The Light occupies every part of you. Lift the bowl of disguise off your heads and shine. Shine where you are, so that other’s will naturally glorify God.”

In a darkened space, one never focuses on the candle, only the flame. Same for you and I. Others might be pleasantly surprised how much light flickers from these bent, dented, scarred pieces of wax.

Light shines undiminished.

Great Light

Matthew quotes the prophet Isaiah,

“the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow
of death a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:16

Both Isaiah and Matthew point to Jesus. One Great Light shines; His Name is Jesus. Those who live in the deepest darkness, under the oppressive “shadow of death” recognize Him, knowing His light is what they need. This Light came for all; He is Who we all need.

One Light

As I write, I sense that oppressive darkness hanging over many. I hear in the Spirit their heart weeping unseen tears, their voices long-silenced in squelched screams of agony.

“Come, Lord. Shine Your light! Expose the schemes and devises of the enemy. Rescue those bound in prisons of darkness. May You, the Great Light, shine brightly now — here, there, everywhere.”

“When Jesus spoke again to the people,
he said, ‘I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Light shines in the world around us.

Light of Life

With light comes life.

James calls God, “the Father of heavenly lights” (1:17). Timothy tells us that God lives “in unapproachable light” (1 Tim:6:16).

“This is the message we have heard from him
and declare to you;
God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5

Lighthouse

One of my mother’s favorite verses was,

The LORD is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalms 27:1

Darkness conceives fear and produces death. Not here! Not where the Lord is! All the writers of Scripture knew beyond a doubt and declared through the ages, “The LORD is light! Don’t fear!”

Light shines, bringing life.

Light Comforts

The psalmist wrote,

“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.”
Psalm 119:105

This “word” was also “The Word” John said “shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome.” In Him resides no darkness!

Today, we contend against darkness. It taunts, lurking in shadows of evil; even disguised as an “angel of light.” Darkness produces confusion, discouragement, fear and death. Only for a season! Our contending will triumph through Christ.

God has prepared a place void of even the slightest shadow. Can you imagine it? I try. A place where light, the Light, lives and rules.

“The city does not need the sun
or the moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light,
and the Lamb is its lamp.”
Revelation 21:23

Light Match

We look forward to where,

God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

The longing of every heart fulfilled! Light shining with unending comfort and fulfilled hope.

Walk in Light

Do you long for more light to shine? I do. The Light within me, promises light to permeate my world, invade the strongholds of the enemy, and take territory back from darkness. Expect the unexpected when The Light shines.

“More light, Lord! Come Jesus, come!”

One candle affects darkness; a thousand even more; ten thousand light a city; thousands upon thousands our world.

Child with light

I join my prayer with others who have gone before me, “May Your light shine indisputably within us, Lord. Set our feet on the path of light.”

“If we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.”
I John 1:7

Candles, my insignificant one and your larger one, joining together, purified from every darkened stain, shining “with one another,” making a difference in our communities.

Jesus welcomes us,

Believe in the light while you have the light,
so that you may become children of light.”
John 12:36

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become “children of light.” Children, not just renovated, but completely remade in His image as His children — children of light.

Light shines

“Yes, Lord! Your light shines brightest in darkness, through your kids, your children of light.”

Fireflies and Lightning Bugs – Let Your Light Shine!

Childhood memory flashed through my mind as fleeting as fireflies and lightning bugs. Under the thick summer canopy of elms around my grandfather’s cabin, we would race capturing fireflies to put in jars. My real joy was watching them freely rise and spin, dart and swirl, appearing and disappearing with ease.

These tiny light generators danced spontaneously through the night air. I still view them with childlike amazement. It is a chemical reaction inside the firefly’s body that allows them to light up.

Fireflies and lightning bugs!

There is nothing extraordinary about fireflies by day. But in the dark, watch and see!

Let it Shine

The evidence of Jesus Christ within us is meant to spontaneously shine, creating an atmosphere of amazement and wonder to those around us.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

Do you catch the implication? We have an ability to either hide The Light, Jesus, from others or “let” our lights shine!

I have long struggled with preferring to go unnoticed, while at the same time desiring God to be seen in my life. Only when people witness what God is doing will He get the glory He deserves – even if that means I am uncomfortable in the process!

I like the way Paul says it,

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason,
that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience
as an example to those who were to believe
in him for eternal life.”
I Timothy 1:15-16

When people see God through the worst of the worst, it is evidence of His grace and confirmation, Jesus Christ is Saviour of all!

I can relate! Every time God uses me in some small way, I am amazed! If His grace is on my life, His grace is for any and all! I don’t say this lightly! I am no human lightning bug. Apart from God, I have no ability to produce anything good.

But Christ in us? That is a different story!

Shine in Darkness

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Let light shine! There is that small but important word again – “let”!

Sometimes it is the recognition of the darkness of our own hearts or the fragile condition of these clay pots we inhabit that condemns us enough to hide the light rather than shine it. The tiniest light is visible in darkness. In the same way, even the smallest act of faith in front of the world will allow Christ to be seen.

If, we “let” Light shine!

Let your light shine before men!

Take courage friends,

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:5

God is Light

Don’t get confused, however, God is Light!

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1

Yet at the same time, that Light has chosen to limit Himself to inhabit and be revealed though human flesh. The limitless God, set within the boundary of humanity!

If we don’t “let” The Light shine, Jesus Christ will not be seen in our world. With this reality is a tremendous privilege, challenge and responsibility.

But here is the paradox: God is Light and so are we!

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light
to all in the house.”
Matthew 5:14-15

God’s supernatural light radically ignites us, transforming us into human lightning bugs and fireflies! We are His lights shining brightly in a dark world. We may prefer to cower under a basket or hide in a back room, but God has placed each of us where His light will be clearly seen.

I have no idea how fireflies feel locked in a jar while wide-eyed children examine their every move. But maybe I do understand a little!

For All The World

I don’t thrive in

the spotlight of examination,
the confines of legalized agendas,
or the boundaries of control.

Set me free to roam the dark world of the broken, rejected, and hurting! Let me loose on the streets of my city or the cells of our prisons! Lift the lid and release me into hospitals and psychiatric wards! Free me to teach and preach, mentor and disciple! It is here my little light shines freely and fully.

Arise shine for your Light has come!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

The Light has come! Jesus Christ came, lived a sinless life and died a horrific death to redeem all mankind. Yet, there is a world that knows nothing about Jesus, The Light of the world. How is it possible that millions have never heard His Name? Yet it is true!

Jesus the Light of the world!

God has lifted the lid of our confinement! “Let your light shine,” He urges.

He has filled us with His Spirit and set us loose. As people clearly see Christ in us, God will get the glory, the Kingdom of God will expand its reach, and Light will invade darkness.

Lightning bugs are tiny, yet there light shines incredibly far. Take wing fellow fireflies and let Christ be seen in you. “Let your light shine!”

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Christmas – The Reason Jesus Came to Earth!

The Reason Jesus Came

The festivities of Christmas have begun: family and social gatherings, decorations, baking, gifts, anticipation and excitement. But why was Jesus born? Why did He come to earth?

Hallmark sells about 93 million cards for Father’s day and another 141 million for Mother’s day. Valentine’s Day tops that at around 151 million. Does anyone want to guess what the number of Christmas cards might be? Those figures come in at 1.6 billion!

In spite of any push away from recognizing Christmas, these numbers speak for themselves. Christians and non-Christians alike place tremendous value in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Christmas

Many of us follow traditions of previous generations, or have created our own traditions of how we celebrate Christmas. However, the significance of Christmas reaches far beyond traditions.

Why was Jesus born?

Angels Announcement

The birth of a baby is an anticipated event in any family. New parents approach the day with excitement and concern while extended family wait to see, touch and smell the new addition.

So it was for Mary & Joseph!

When a mother was ready to deliver her baby, midwives would be called. Family and friends would congregate on the roof awaiting the announcement from a close but guarded distance. Following the birth, the midwives would take a broom and knock on the ceiling. Then they would break into jubilant song; their familiar chant announcing the details!

“I bring you good news,
today in the town of __________
born to (names of father and mother)
this day a (son or daughter)
He/she will be (occupation, destiny or purpose)”

Their predictable chorus would set the roof top guests into clamorous celebration!

For Joseph and Mary, however, there were no midwives. Neither family nor friends attending the birth of this “unplanned” child. Alone, the Baby came! Only the sounds of chewing of cuds or gentle cooing from the rafters filled the night air.

Angel

God could not and would not allow this birth to go unannounced! Angels were released to declare the song of the midwives!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

This Child, Jesus Christ, was not for limited purpose or design! This Child was “for all the people…Saviour!” The Messiah had come!

Son of God and Son of Man, born to die, to take away the sins of the world.  The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem – for all!

Calvary

[bctt tweet=”The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

His Purpose

People continually misunderstood Him. Even for those who believed in Him, their hope of rescue clouded their vision. They wanted a king to set them free! Now!

Just before His crucifixion Jesus responded to Pilate’s questioning,

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—
to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end “was born“! A king? Yes, but so much more!

[bctt tweet=”The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end was born!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Every aspect of His birth was swaddled in the supernatural with angelic visitation and divine encounter. Yet, Jesus lived fully Man. At the same time, He was a fully natural demonstration of the fullness of the Father, the fulfillment of the law, revelation of love, and peace in a tormented world.

Jesus came “to bear witness … to testify to the truth!”

 “The true light that gives light to everyone
was coming into the world.
 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—”
John 1:9 &11

Christmas

Christmas! The Truth shining in all His brilliance came to a world unprepared – unwaiting!

Are you ready? Am I?

It is  challenging to intentionally celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas. With Holy Spirit help, we can add a little more Christ to this Christmas.

Love

Several years ago we had a few guests staying with us over Christmas. We decided to share something we were each thankful for. As it turned out everyone around the circle talked about how significant their relationship with God and with family was to them. These moments had a powerful impact on a young visitor. He neither had a living relationship with Jesus or strong family connections. This simple time was transitional in his life.

Small things can made a big difference! For this young man, Christmas became an encounter with the Saviour!

Christmas is a reminder that real love is shown through sacrifice. For this Jesus was born, testifying with His life and death the truth in every respect. The Truth wrapped in swaddling clothes is love.

__________

Another read: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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1 Corinthians 13 – The Photo Shoot – What You See May Not Be What You Get!

The Photo Shoot Light Makes All the Difference

Last fall, my husband and I had our first photo shoot together in over 44 years! The leaves were all but gone on this unusually warm Canadian prairie day in November. With the sun setting, we stood by the water thankful to have passed the difficult seasons of married life. Relaxed in each other’s presence, we deeply inhaled the fresh, gentle breeze. With a hint of sadness, I wished there was more than dried twigs in the background silhouetting our forms.

Completely amazed, I viewed our pictures for the first time! The amber warm glow of sunset appeared to surround us making even the brown of waiting winter vibrant in the powerful light. How very much like our lives together!

In the Light

From human perspective there is no reason we should be standing hand in hand with united contentment. The barren branches of

life’s wounds had gone unmentionably deep,
disappointments robbing of all hope,
secret addictions strangling and denying value and worth,
illness threatening futures,
depression sapping any flicker of joy…

Yet, here we stood with an ever deepening love and respect for each other – the unmerited blessing of God’s faithfulness toward people so unworthy!

[bctt tweet=”Here we stood with an ever deepening love and respect for each other in unmerited blessing.” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Yes, in His Light everything is viewed with new perspective. We are able to truly see each other without suspicion or criticism. (This in itself a gentle miracle!) Here in His Presence there are no regrets, judgments, or pain of past failures. In Christ Jesus, we lavishly receive and generously share the joy of togetherness – rich and full.

There is a quiet confidence and love with deep roots that develop between a husband and wife who have weathered life-threatening storms  Even if we accomplish awe-inspiring things in these few days we have, we are nothing and gain nothing without love according to I Corinthians 13. The perfection of God’s enduring love and the challenge to emulate it causes me to measure both honestly:

Love is Patient
I Corinthians 13

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
…does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

In our capacity, that bar-raising-love stretches to impossible heights for me to ever reach! Yet, at the same time, I know inwardly it is entirely possible as one leans completely into The One Who is Love and delights to demonstrate it to us continually.

The picture I hold in my hands of the photo shoot may not give the “real” impression of our lives, the course of our journey or the obstacles ahead. However, it certainly reminds us to look at ourselves from a new Light-filled perspective and give thanks….much, much thanks…

 Time to Give Thanks

Lord, thank you for
holding us together with arms of strength…
for allowing us to see this side of struggle…
and showing us just a little glimpse of divine love…
Thank you for the tears and laughter…
for melting two hearts into one…
With joy we look to all that is behind, appreciating today, and anticipating tomorrow…
Thank you for never leaving us or abandoning us to our twisted ways.
Thank you for your immeasurable grace, unending mercy and inexplicable favour.


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