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WHEN YOU SEE THE DARKNESS APPROACHING, IT IS WISE TO MOVE INTO THE FULLNESS OF THE LIGHT

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE JOINT SERVICE OF

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

10 JANUARY 1993

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Job 1:22
    2:7-8, 13
    30:26
    37:21-24
    38:1-3

Last week, as we were talking about the fact that God allows us to choose between the light and the darkness, I said that when we see the darkness approaching:

We cannot sit back and do nothing, for to do nothing is the same as choosing the darkness.

And I have heard from many of you here today, that you also have been seeing the spiritual darkness approaching; and many who were formerly in the church have slipped away because of it. But others have consistently seen the light and worked to stay in it.

The Book of Job is the account of how the forces of light and darkness affected Job, and can also affect us.

Job lost almost everything he had, except for his wife, his land, and a few servants; yet, as the Bible tells us in 1:22,

22. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

And then after this, Job was afflicted physically, as we are told in 2:7.

7. Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

So what did Job do? Note verse 8:

8. And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.

The forces of darkness had caught up with Job, and instead of moving into the light, he stopped and sat down.

He did nothing; thus the darkness got worse.

Now, to be fair to Job, we can well understand why he was depressed; for we would most likely feel this way, too, if similar things happened to us.

But, as we shall see, God wants us to move and see beyond the darkness, back into the light.

And sometimes, we need the help of others in order to see and behave this way; for our pain can be very great, too.

Then three of Job's friends came to comfort him. But, note in 2:13 what they did when they came:

13. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

Job's friends, too, saw the darkness; and they, likewise, did nothing.

They came out of the light and entered the darkness.

They did nothing to help Job. In fact, they let the darkness surround them; and from that darkness, they falsely counseled Job and made things worse.

Note what Job says in 30:26, when they had finished talking:

26. “When I expected good, then evil came;
When I waited for light, then darkness came.”

“When I waited for light, then darkness came.”

“When I waited!”

True spiritual light is not something we can wait for, as we wait for the dawn of a new day.

But if we do decide to wait, then spiritual darkness overcomes us, as surely as the darkness of night follows the light of day.

As we return to Job, we see that a young man, who claims to speak for God, enters the scene and rebukes what Job and his three friends have been saying.

Note what he says in his closing statement in 37:21-24.

21. “And now men do not see the light which is bright in the skies;
But the wind has passed and cleared them.

22. “Out of the north comes golden splendor;
Around God is awesome majesty.

23. “The Almighty – we cannot find Him;
He is exalted in power;
And He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness.

24. “Therefore men fear Him;
He does not regard any who are wise of heart.”

What Elihu says is very true: the majesty and light of God is ever present. It is we humans who fail to see it.

Even when there are thick storm clouds in the sky, isn't there still enough light to tell us whether it is daytime or nighttime?

And isn't the sun still shining brightly above the clouds of day?

Now, think of how the storm ends. Doesn't the wind of the frontal passage blow away the clouds, revealing the sun?

And so it is with us when we again see the spiritual presence of God's light shining through the dark clouds of our problems.

We don't see the light because we have a tendency to focus only on the present dark clouds.

This past Wednesday, I had to fly out to Wellsville, which is in the western part of the State.

The day was thickly overcast, with no holes. The freezing level was at the surface, which meant that there would be icing conditions in the clouds.

One could not fly very long in the clouds before the airplane would become so coated with ice that it would no longer be able to fly.

But by checking the weather, I found out that the tops of the clouds were about 6,000 ft.

Now I had some clear choices:

I could cancel my trip and upset my client, which could bring even darker clouds, than those outside, over our business.

I could cancel my flight, get up at 2:00 AM, and drive to Wellsville, which would not get me home until 8:00 PM.

I could decide to fly, and fly in the clouds, worrying about the ice build-up on the plane; in which case, more than likely, I never would have reached Wellsville, and may not be here today.

Or, I could use the light of real knowledge that is available to us all, and see beyond the darkness. I could plan my flight so as to do a fairly rapid climb-out through the clouds, fly on top of the clouds in the full light of day, and then descend through the clouds to my destination.

I chose the latter.

Instead of getting up at 2:00 AM, I got up at 4:00 AM, saving two hours of my day.

I flew out to Wellsville, took care of my business, and flew back to Albany, arriving slightly before 3:00 PM – which would have saved another four hours if I just went home.

But this savings in time allowed me to go to the office and take care of some business there, make a hospital visit, and still get home two hours earlier.

This is the same way it is with God in our lives.

We don't have to sit around, or take more time doing less. We can know that God's light is with us, and proceed to do what has to be done, and accomplish more than we thought we could.

Still, all of these men were sitting around with Job. No one was really doing anything.

So God began to speak to Job. Listen to how he began in 38:1-3.

1. Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

This is the wind of the frontal passage.

This is the wind that exposes the light.

Remember that Job said that he waited for the light but darkness came.

But Job must do something if he is going to get back into the light. Listen to what the Lord says to him:

2. Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?

3. “Now gird up your loins like a man.
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

We are not to listen to the doomsayers.

We are not to listen to those who see only the darkness, and desire us to remain in it with them.

We are to listen to the voice of the Lord telling us to get off our duffs and do something.

And once we do this, then God will even allow us to try to instruct Him, if we still think we are able to do so.

I have been here with you for more than five years, doing my best to shed the light and love of the Lord our God.

Today you are being asked to make some decisions about the future of this charge.

Right now, you're sitting and, hopefully, listening. In a few minutes you are going to be asked to do something.

You can choose to do nothing. You can even choose to retreat into the darkness.

Or, you can gird yourselves up and take charge, in love and in the will of God.

Look way beyond where we are today.

Look at least ten years into the future, and see what our churches could be.

Then decide in your own heart what you personally, each one of you, are going to do to help accomplish this future picture.

Then share your thoughts and prayers with each other.

Stay in the light!

And remember, nothing is impossible with God, but everything can be lost without Him.

Amen

Your Comments are welcome

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