Jesus spoke in parables with this same goal in mind, to develop a new set of senses in the spiritually hungry. He embedded the realities of heaven into the stories of our human experience. Still, he left them hanging just beyond our natural ability to understand and taunted us with this beckoning call, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Mark 4:9).
On my own discipleship journey, it was grief that offered me the gift of new eyes and new ears. In the wake of my first husband’s death, I stood knee deep in ash. My world was enveloped with the dark night of the soul (The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross). I clung to the hope that life existed on the other side but realized no map would guide me through. The hope of living beyond the wreckage was found in knowing Jesus Christ, but could I find him? Could I see him in the dark? Could I perceive his movements through the numbness of my flesh and the emptiness of my soul?
I discovered a most profound truth, that “even the darkness will not be dark to [God]; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to [Him]” (Psalm 139:12). Though my eyes could not see, his sight was unhindered. Though my reality felt empty and void, his reality surged with the abundance of everlasting life. Though my senses were numb, the heavens were electric with creative energy. God had not changed, but my ability to discern him had shifted.
Fortunately, my repertoire of scriptural narratives brought the dust-trodden Israelites to mind. On their sojourn from slavery to citizenship, they crafted an ability to discern God’s movements in both the day and the night. During the day, God’s presence was experienced as a hovering cloud of shade, offering protection and refreshment from the harsh desert sun. At night, his glory shifted to reveal a hot pillar of fire, alive with terrifying movements, sudden jerks and stabs into the air. Each expression was radically different, while God remained same!
God’s people learned to recognize his presence in two different contexts, the day and the night. They knew him in comfort, and they knew him in fear. Both contexts are significant and with purpose. The day woos us to God’s heart of love, while the night awakens a spirit of revelation. Like the spear of a flashlight, it cuts deep into the hidden caves of the soul. It uncovers our greatest dangers and richest treasures that would otherwise go unseen. More often than not, relating to God in the night leads to victorious breakthrough and radical transformation on the road to perfect union with God.
Every believer experiences seasons of darkness. Still, our relatable God, Yahweh, remains visible and knowable to us in both. It is one thing to discover the shady comfort of his presence by day, but we also need the necessary senses to discern the person of God as he is known in the night. When the sun goes down, when tragedy hits, when our world succumbs to an eerie silence, a soul numbness: He is still there. He is the same. Yet, somehow, he is altogether different.
Have you learned to know him in the dark? Dear friend, please do. You might discover personal treasures he has hidden there just for you.
“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
Isaiah 45:3, NIV