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The Night Shift

December 29th, 2008

“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness.” Isaiah 45:3 NLT

“In moments when hope is dim and help seems distant, you will discover sovereign grace.”

“Treasures hidden in the darkness.” That is not where we usually expect to find the best, nor where or when we would prefer. Yet God says there are treasures there in the dark that can be found no other place, at no other time, and in no other way.

When I was a young teen, my grandfather managed a truck stop in Cairo, in southern Illinois. While visiting there in summers, he allowed me to work the night shift alongside my uncles. At first, it was exciting to a young teen allowed to stay up all night, but after the first few hours of those night shifts the night just seemed too long and too dark before the first daylight edged over the darkened, eastern horizon. While in college, I had a summer job at a steel mill, often on the night shift from 11 pm to 7 am. I never liked going to work when others were going to bed, or going to bed as others were just getting up. It seemed contrary to some natural order of things.

There is a darkness that is not a literal or physical darkness. Some years ago, I read a book by a friend titled, “God Works the Night Shift,” which traced so many Biblical occurrences of God’s appearing in the midst of people’s lives in their darkest hours, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have since been mindful of how often God faithfully comes at the most distressing and difficult moments of one’s life and circumstance.

The darkest night of my soul may well have been the night after my father and sister died in a highway accident, and my mother was gravely injured and hospitalized in Sikeston, Missouri. After flying from California, then driving to Sikeston, I fell wearily across the bed in a small motel across the highway from the hospital. Never a night felt darker. I was newly married and just beginning my senior year in college, and suddenly the future seemed dark and uncertain.

The last sermon I heard my Dad preach was about Solomon’s prayer that God would give him wisdom, “for I am as a child and do not know how to go out or come in.” See 1 Kings 3:7-12 NKJV. As I prepared for ministry feeling ill prepared, Solomon’s words had become my confession and prayer.

I opened my Bible in a room lit only by the motel sign outside my window, and began to read. My eyes fell upon the words out of a dark night of the psalmist’s own soul, “From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth . . The Lord will preserve your going out and coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Psalm 121:1-8.

I had found a “treasure hidden in the darkness!” There – in my darkest of life’s moments – those verses were the quiet but clear voice of God assuring my heart that in every moment when hope is dim and help seems distant my “comings and goings” would always be safe in His hands. I am glad that God works the night shift, then and now. “And He will not let your foot slip . . He who watches over you will . . neither slumber or sleep.” Psalm 112:3 NIV. Could that be a word for your heart today?

My prayer for you today is to discover the treasures in God that wait for you in the darkest of times.

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