My son is holding me to a very strict Christmas decorating regimen this year and I am not meeting his deadlines.
But, he’s five and excited, so I don’t fret too much. I want the house decorated, too, and I understand all the anticipation and expectation.
Normally, I am a weekend-after Thanksgiving decorator when it comes to Christmas.
But this year, some family traveling changed our routine a bit. I wasn’t even home to start decking the halls until Sunday afternoon and by then I was already behind my son’s schedule.
Why in the world was our tree not up the moment Thanksgiving ended? That’s what he wanted to know.
Perhaps he expected little Christmas decorating elves to apply themselves to the task while we were away. In fact, that’d be a sweet surprise for me, too!
Alas, no elves strung the lights or hung the stockings and garland. So, that meant working away bit by bit, light strand by light strand with one consistent periodic interruption from my taskmaster 5-year-old: “Are the lights up yet? Where are the lights? When will the lights be done?”
What my son doesn’t fully understand is this is all a process: The cleaning up of Thanksgiving decorations, the unpacking of Christmas decorations, putting the tree up and pulling out the ladder to decorate outside, checking light strands and replacing burnt out bulbs, untangling garland, finding extension cords and plugging everything in.
It’s not a snap my fingers and voila kind of thing. It’s working away, little by little, with patience until there is light and beauty and Christmas.
And this is the way, isn’t it? Most of the time we just want the light and we want the light now. We tire easily of delays, of waiting, of tension or difficulty.
Giving up on hope feels easier than continuing to look for redemption.
Here’s the truth built into the very structure of creation, though, and this is what we fight against, but this is what is nevertheless true:
First there is evening. Then there is morning.
First there is the waiting. Then there is the sunrise.
First there is dark. Then there is light.
First there is the resting in the Lord. Then there is His miraculous provision of sun, of light, of hope fulfilled, of redemption and of His glory.
Genesis 1 peals out this reminder like a relentless echo, every single day of creation ends in the same way:
“And there was evening and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5 NASB).
Every day, God’s acts of creation ended the same: Evening. Morning.
Never the other way around. Never the light first, the glory first, the joy first, the fulfillment first. Always the investment of walking and waiting through the dark of night until God delivers with the morning dawn.
And He does deliver. So, we have that consistent assurance in creation itself that yes, this is darkness right now and it is hard to have faith, yes it looks bleak, it’s heartbreaking and difficult, yes you are weary and maybe frightened to your very core or overwhelmed because you simply cannot see….
But this: “There was morning.”
There will be morning.
Eugene Peterson describes this as “victory of God’s light.”
God’s day is not complete until light shines again, penetrating the darkness and dispersing the shadows. The creative action of God is light, which encloses and limits a temporary darkness…The shadows are there–night descends upon life–and there is that which seems to defy God, to disturb his order and his purpose: sickness, death, trouble, and sorrow. But it does not have the last word: ‘And there was morning, one day.’ (Every Step an Arrival)
We have the promise also that even when we feel blind and abandoned in the dark places, God sees through. Before we can ever see Him, He sees us—He always sees us.
The Psalmist said:
“Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:12 NASB)
I read this explanation in Barnes’s notes on the Bible:
” things appear dark to us–disappointment, bereavement, trouble, care, losses; but all is light to God.”
It’s all light to Him.
So, maybe I can hold on through the process. Maybe I can cling a little harder to hope. Maybe I can wait a little longer before giving up, before despairing, before looking for an easier way.
Because this isn’t dark to Him. And because at the end of this, at the end of all of this evening….there will be morning. There will be light again.