Night Has Its Work (My Redeemer Lives 4:1)

When I was a small child, I was terrified of the dark. My parents would tuck me into bed and go back downstairs to watch television or talk by the fireplace. I laid awake listening and waiting for something to come and get me. I would creep into the hallway and sit by the railing to the stairway. My parents would find me there an hour or so later when they came up to bed and gently guide me to my cozy pillows and blankets again.

For whatever reason, a nightlight was never enough for me. I wanted the light of my parents’ attention, their love, and, mostly, their presence to fall asleep.

The good news is I have outgrown my fear of the dark. Praise God—I was a little worried there for a while in college! Just joking. 😉

And in becoming a parent, I have noticed just how common a fear of the dark is in small children, and even not-so-small children. Why? Why is it so common, even in homes full of daily care and affection? Why is it just so hard for children to rest peacefully in the dark at night?

I think we can gain some insight into both childhood fears of darkness and all the light the resurrection gives us in one swoop today, by looking at Luke 23:44-47 –

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

In this passage we see darkness at its very worst. The Scripture is dead honest in Luke 23:45:

…while the sun’s light failed.

It wasn’t just dark — the sun was not capable of giving light at the moment of Jesus’ death.The Greek root for “failed” in the text is eklipontos, from the word ekleipó meaning to fail utterly, to leave out, to come to an end, defunct.

This is purposeful darkness, and really, since the creation of the world, darkness, alongside light, has been in the hands of our God.

Children do not have the understanding to accompany these considerations. I can say to my children, “God is with you. He’s right beside you.” But for them, my physical presence is what reminds them over and over that God is near. They are learning and growing in the Word as we share it in our home, but God is building understanding and trust in them as well. They are not yet there, just as I am really not yet there when we start talking about metaphorical darkness.

The darkness presses in within our lives and it is easy to forget that God gives purpose to it. Some purposes we will see this side of heaven—light will dawn as we read the Word and God gives us insight and understanding into our situation. For other pieces of darkness in our lives, we will have to wait for understanding to dawn when the New Creation comes with Jesus on the clouds.

What else happened in the moment that the sun utterly “failed” in Luke 23:45? Look back at the passage again to remind yourself.

When the weight of our sin was poured onto Jesus and darkness entered this world in a way it had not seen before, salvation also broke through and brought Light. Hebrews 1:10-13 uses the same Greek root word, eklipontos, to describe the greatness of our Savior in contrast to the world, and even the angels from whom we seek protection in our beds as we lay in darkness:


“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? (emphasis added)

Darkness feels like an end. Certainly that darkness that enveloped the world at the time of Jesus’ death did for the disciples, for those gathered, but God brings Light, and His name is Jesus. Light is resurrected.

Dr Arthur A. Just, Jr. reminds us in his commentary on the final chapters of Luke, “Here during Jesus’ crucifixion, the darkness signals the imminent conclusion of God’s work of redemption.”

While darkness seems imminent, oh, is Light ever magnificent and eternal.

Night has its work. It is purposeful. God uses even this. Morning will always dawn in Christ Jesus.

Night has its work, but morning will always dawn in Christ.

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Wrapped in Love

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*Arthur A. Just Jr., Luke 9:51–24:53, Concordia Commentary, copyright © 1997 Concordia Publishing House, p. 942. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Concordia Publishing House.

Tending the sheep

Sometimes ministry is hard, even being in a ministry family is hard at times. People say things, programs don’t go as planned, discouragement sets in. People say that ministry is full of joy and sorrow. This verse tells us that the Christian life will most certainly contain sorrow. It’s just reality, ministry life or not.

It’s not comforting- “For your sake we face death all day long…” (NIV).

Remember these two promises:

First, Christ is the sheep. On Good Friday, He was led to the slaughter for our sake. He took on this role willingly, on our behalf. God set the sin of the world on His shoulders, with the weight of the cross. He faced death, so that when we face it, we see Him. We see and draw in His strength, His sacrifice, His mercy. His willing Spirit is in us- there is the comfort. We are not only forgiven and set free by His cross, we are capable of His work, by His strength in death. More over, we are granted the freedom of the resurrection, so death has no sting, grave no victory.

Second, because of Christ’s victory on the cross, there is victory every day in ministry. Victory in simply being faithful to His work, through His Spirit. Victory in caring for one another, fellow sheep journeying to well watered pastures, through a parched desert land. Fellow sheep, take heart. He is at work in you.

The Resurrection Spirea & Marriage

Have you ever watched anything die? Helpless before your eyes?

Master gardeners we are not.

We like to landscape around the back patio, but our soil is rotten and we are constantly trying to just keep things alive. One year we planted a Spirea bush with gorgeous pink blooms. It was so beautiful for one year. The next year we could not do anything to keep that thing alive. We tended it with waterings and special nutrients. We moved other plants out to give it more space. Once it seemed better, the bugs came. Little tiny insects intent on destroying. We tried every natural remedy known to man and finally brought out the big guns- chemical powder. We had to douse the plant in the powder. The bugs were everywhere. By the end of the summer all that was left of our beautiful bush was brown, dried up, twiggy death. We mourned a bit and walked away. We gave up on gardening and moved on with life.

The next spring, while drinking a cup of morning coffee on the back patio, Dave says, “I think I see flowers.” I walked over to the bush and sure enough, there they were- beautiful little, tiny pink flowers pocketed away on one section of the bush. A beautiful little secret waiting to burst forth. Two weeks later, the bush was huge and covered in gorgeous blooms, stronger and brighter than ever. We call it the Resurrection Spirea, died and risen before our eyes. A work of our Creator.

That bush shares a lesson with us related to these verses. Sometimes things need to die, we need to die, desires in our flesh must die for us to Live. Those desires of the flesh, they eat up everything. They destroy our hearts, relationships, families, and churches. When we follow our flesh we work 60+ hours a week, we spew hurtful words, we are inpatient and ungracious with those we love. But we were put to death in our baptisms by the Creator. We rise with Him and He continues to put to death daily, in us, through the Spirit, the inpatient, the unloving, the selfish, and the dishonorable. We are free.

We are Alive in Christ and therefore, different things matter.

People matter, relationships matter, He matters. We emerge brighter and stronger, filled with His Life instead of our own attempts at counterfeit life. We grow and flourish under His loving care.

This is my actual Resurrection Spirea!