Summary: What do we do when the lights go out in our world? It’s simple: Don’t trust yourself; trust the Lord. Rely on His unfailing love. Rely on His unlimited power, and rely on His obedient Servant, Jesus Christ, who CHOSE to die for us.
Vance Havner was one of my favorite preachers when I was growing up, because had a wonderful, witty way of putting things that really made you think. He went home to be with the Lord quite a while ago, but I remember a story he told about two Indians who from a distance had been watching a lighthouse being constructed over a period of time. When the thing was finally completed, they came over to see it on its grand opening. It was all set up with the lights and the bell and the horn; but the day it was due to open, the worst fog of all fogs came in. One Indian said to the other, “Light shine, bell ring, horn blow, but fog come in just the same.”
Vance Havner commented, “We've never had more lights shining, and bells ringing, and horns blowing in the church than we have today. We've never had more fog.” (Vance Havner, On This Rock I Stand; www.PreachingToday.com)
Now, even though this was said probably more than 30 years ago, it still rings true perhaps even more so today than then. We’ve got a lot of bells and whistles in the church today, but so many people seem to be in a fog. These are dark and scary days for a lot of people. The lights are going out, but so very few know what to do.
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Isaiah 50, Isaiah 50, where the prophet Isaiah talks to some of God’s faithful people who faced the dark prospect of Babylonian captivity. There were some dark days ahead, but Isaiah gives them and us some clear direction on what to do when the lights go out.
Isaiah 50:1 This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. (NIV)
God is speaking to the children of Israel, and He makes it very clear that He did not divorce Israel or sell her out. Even though she had committed “adultery” (so to speak) by going after other gods, God never gave her a certificate of divorce. “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce,” He asks. The answer is, “Nowhere, because God never issued one.” Even though Israel had been unfaithful to Him, God remained faithful to Her. She left the Lord; the Lord didn’t leave her.
It reminds me of the story of the old couple following in a car behind the car of a young couple sitting very close together. The two old people are about as far apart on the front seat of the car as they can get, and she muses, “Remember, when we were young like that. I miss those days when we sat so close together.”
The old man simply grunts a two word reply: “Who moved?”
In this case, God didn’t move away from Israel; Israel moved away from God and faces Babylonian captivity as a result. Even so, God has not abandoned His people.
He has not divorced her, and that’s what those who feared the Lord in ancient Israel could count on. They could depend on God’s unfailing love, and that’s what we can count on today, those of us who fear and obey the Lord. When the lights go out, we can and we must…
RELY ON GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE
We must depend God’s faithful commitment to His own people. We must trust in His loyal devotion to those He calls His own.
The book of Hebrews in the New Testament was written to a group of people facing severe persecution because of their faith. But in the midst of the darkness, the author of Hebrews reminds them of what God had said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God will never leave us no matter what, and He will never stop loving us. Depend on that love, and it will get you through the darkest times.
Skye Jethani relates a story about holding a series of meetings with college-aged students. The topics ranged across the spectrum – doctrine, hell, dating – but each conversation had three rules: be honest, be gracious, and be present. On one night the students wanted to discuss habitual sins. Although they struggled with a variety of sinful behaviors, they all agreed on one thing: God was extremely disappointed with them. One student said, “My parents were students at a Christian college in the early '90s when a revival broke out… They were on fire for God. And here I am consumed by sin day after day.” Often through tears, many other students shared similar stories about how they believed God must be disappointed with them.