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Weekly Devotionals

Dark First, Then His Marvelous Light

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. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day. – Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV)

From the opening verses of the Bible, God reveals His pattern of redemption. At first the earth is wrapped in darkness, and God introduces light, separate from darkness. Once created, the evening and then the morning complete the first day. Even before the formless and empty earth is given shape and made fruitful, God brings it through the darkness and into the light.

By God’s ordering, each new day begins when darkness descends on all things, not in the morning. We conventionally think of sunrise as the start of a new day, but God set the day’s start in the darkening evening hours.

The story of Christ’s death and resurrection that we celebrate on Easter Sunday follows the same pattern: darkness first and then light. Jesus came out of obscurity for a brief ministry and then was crucified, in the world’s eyes seemingly failing in His mission to save humankind. Yet after three hopeless sundowns for his followers, He rose again. On the third day He appeared to them and proved the defeat of sin and death, just as foretold, so that in Him we can be saved from the same fate, identified with His crucifixion and resurrection.

With people, as with days, God starts His work amid our darkness, when we don’t even understand the distinction and think our own darkness is light. Awakened when by grace we hear His call, we are confronted by the tomb that has been our soul’s abode. We may despair, thinking this is all we will be, all that our salvation is: a simply being conscious to our own darkness, stuck there in despair and unable to change.

The third day always comes just after the last hope we’d pinned on our human effort to escape sin and death by ourselves wears out. God waits. We exhaust ourselves trying to be good and judging others by our own standards. By then, like the hopeless disciples, we fear He never saved us at all. At last we realize our inability to save ourselves, and in that confession He hears the meekness of a surrendered, repentant heart.

He rolls away the stone and we emerge, blinking like newborns into the morning of the third day – and our first as His new creation, incredulous with praise and thanksgiving. Yet it didn’t start there, when we emerged into the light, but instead in the darkness, just like each new day since His creation had its start, or each new child in its mother’s womb. We just never before had the faith, or the understanding of His ways, to wait with patience.

God doesn’t fault us for not yet believing in what we can’t possibly understand. Our resurrected Jesus comes to each disciple – to each believer – and reveals Himself individually and personally, full of love and grace and forgiveness. And to every person who will believe in this improbable and miraculous Savior comes the joyful reward of adoption into the kingdom of God as daughters and sons, and eternal life with Him.

Salvation may be this simple, but it is not easy. We must hold on in those times that feel like night. From God’s pattern, we can know He is working, hovering over the waters in the darkness. His faithfulness means that after the night surely comes the morning, and we’ll have the joy of seeing how He has finished His work. Trust in who He is: the Risen One, the Savior and Redeemer and Lover of your soul, who will never leave you or forsake you. Light follows darkness; form follows chaos. His redemptive plan will be revealed. Take heart: He’s not done with you – or me – yet.