The birthplace of Christianity was the tomb. The birthplace of splendor is desolation. Spring is conceived in the dark womb of Winter. And light is inevitably the offspring of darkness. All this present heaviness of night is surely but the prelude to a better dawn. The voice of God and the voice of Nature proclaim that the best is yet to be—always, the best is yet to be.
There is an unseen current of distress which I sense in much of my interaction with folks these days. From my friends who use their understanding of the Bible to prop up their dim view of the future of civilization, to those who see the changing political landscape in our country—indeed, in the world—as proof of our impending calamity, there is an air of certainty and of finality.
I myself, and no time more than when I sit down to write, have of late been overcome by the melancholy sense of things which have passed beyond recall. Friends are missing from my life—friends who were here just moments ago. Family members have disappeared—people I loved and who loved me—never to be encountered again while I breathe this air.
All is dark. The end will soon be upon us all.
But, is it? Will it?
I cannot begin to count the number of times in my lifetime I have heard folks predict the ending of this world. From the same Bible I read and believe, they have found proof of days and seasons, and some, even times. But, again and again, the day, the season, and yes, even the time has passed and life continues here on this spinning ball.
I do not wish to discount the prophecies cited, but I am skeptical of the ability of any living man to successfully render an accurate reading of passing events with hopes of naming the day or even the season in which the end will come.
It seems to me that it is not our purpose in this life to look to the ending of time, but to work while we still have it on our side.
But, I have a different purpose here, a purpose not tied up in prophecy or politics. The writer of Hebrews suggests we have a responsibility to encourage each other. He says it is even more imperative as we see the end approaching. Even more.
Encourage, verb: Give support, confidence, or hope, to (someone).
I’m ready to be done with the doom and gloom, to move out from under the cloud of defeat and into the light of victory. That said, it seems we start from a position of disadvantage. It is dark and cold here in the real world.
In this dark world, where is the light of day to be found?
If you noticed the painting above, you may have had the passing thought: how sweet—a little girl looking at a songbird.
You would be partially right. There is a little girl. There is even a songbird. You would also be partially wrong.
She is not looking at the bird. The artist’s daughter, the subject of this touching tableau, is completely blind.
The world in which the little girl grew up and lived was permanently dark. It didn’t stop her from hearing the song of the robin and knowing winter could not last forever. The barren ground would explode with grasses and flowers; the trees would burst forth into bloom, filling the air with the aroma of their buds. In the heart of that little girl, who would never see Spring, the glory of that blessed season was already bursting forth.
Spring is conceived in the dark womb of Winter.
I refuse to live in the dark of night, when all about me is the orange of the sunrise. I cannot remain in the black grip of sadness, when the joy promised in the morning is already at hand.
Do you hear the robin’s song too? Are you ready to head out in the early blush of dawn on a road that leads to a noonday bright?
It is not so dark here. Maybe we could travel together a while.
The voice of God and the voice of Nature proclaim that the best is yet to be—always, the best is yet to be.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noonday bright.
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.
(from We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations ~ H Ernest Nichol ~1862-1928)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.