The Night Watch

NW1For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4

 The loneliest hours of the day are the hours between midnight and dawn. Normally these hours are reserved for rest and sleep. A time when all is quiet in the world, human activity is at a low ebb and stillness blankets a worn and weary world.
 
But, this is not always the case. For the restless and unsettled soul the night watch is where things happen. 
 
The night watch can sometimes be the only place where the soul can escape the gravitational pull of worldly and carnal things and enter into the things of the Holy – the deep things of God.
 
The night watch is reserved for God’s warriors. It is the place for people who respond to God’s call from the depths of the night to do ‘God-work’.  
 
Strange things are commonplace during the night watch. And things not normally seen in the light of day are revealed in the darkness of night. 
 
You may ask the question: Are we not getting somewhat overboard and a little too E.A. Poe-ish here for your own good? Not really.
 
Let’s look at some examples in God’s word.
 
The psalmist David knew the importance of the night watch:
 
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. 
Psalm 63:6
 

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Psalms 119:147-148

 
Certainly Jacob was familiar with it:

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:10-12

And the Apostle Paul was a frequent guest and racked up his share of frequent flyer miles:
 

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Acts 27:20-23

 

A Personal Night Watch

This blogger can speak of a personal night watch experience and who apologizes for any attempt at self-aggrandizement (which up t o this point has been intentionally minimal at the least). But, those who have seen the hand of God in their night watch need to tell their story. So, here is one of my mine:

 
Several years ago I lost my job as an assistant to a lead electrical design engineer at a data communications company (due to a corporate takeover). Our daughter was about 1 1/2 years old and our newborn son was six months old. No job. A single income family. No health insurance. Little food in the pantry. 
 
After filling out many job applications and reading through employment postings – I waited. A call came. It was for a good position as a field engineer. An interview was arranged and it looked like a ‘done deal’. Then nothing. One week, two weeks, three weeks go by and still nothing. Now five weeks and still nothing but dead silence.
 
Then God began to call from the night watch to come and meet Him.
 
And I did for several consecutive nights. He would call during the middle of the night; at 2AM and sometimes 3AM.
 
Many mornings crying and calling out to Jesus until the dawning of the morning. Only to crawl back to bed exhausted and wearing from the rigors and pangs experienced by those who venture into the night watch.
 
After four nights of this it finally came. A breakthrough was felt. Something broke and pierced through the despair and gloom enveloping the soul. The trip back to the bedroom was different on this morning. Weary, yes. Worn out, yes. But, there was a deep sense of hope and PEACE that filled the heart (and only God brings peace) upon resting on the pillow that morning. This day was going to be different.
 

And it was. And the call came around 10AM that morning: “Sorry we took so long in getting back to you. We want to offer you the job. When can you start?”

Amazing things happen in the night watch.

 

God’s Need For Watchmen

The nation of Israel knew all about the importance of the night watch:
 
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, Isaiah 62:6
 
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. Jeremiah 6:17
 
It is during the hours of the night watch that the enemy will launch a surprise attack. It is a time when the common, beastly criminal types plot and scheme their evil works.
 
As the opening scripture indicates, God likens the brevity and intensity of this life to a space of time known as the night watch.
 
Jesus is calling His people into the vortex of its intensity. A calling for watchmen in this hour who will uphold his words of truth and be warriors of light – even if it means spending time in the night watch. For, it will soon be over and be as yesterday when it is past.

Therefore whatsever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Luke 12:3

A Song In The Night

I call to remembrance my song in the night: Ibird1
commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Psalm 77:6-7

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

We don’t grow in God when the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing and the birds are chirping a melodic song.

No. It is in the darkness where we  grow in God. For it is in the darkness where God creates His most majestic and wonderful works:

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:15-16

From most observations, the womb is a pretty dark place. Yet, it is in this darkness where the God of creation fashions and stitches together the wondrous fabric of human life.

The Apostle John wrote one of the most powerful, majestic and prophetic books of the  Bible, The Book of Revelation, while living in a very dark place. The book was written while  exiled by his countrymen and left to rot away on the forsaken island – the Isle of Patmos.

The real test  of our faith through time is to keep singing a song of hope and love to God regardless of our circumstances. It all comes down to the condition of the heart:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

One real challenge to a believer in Jesus Christ is to keep a song alive in our hearts – even when it means singing it in the darkest hour of life’s night.

And it is one thing to write a song in the night and quite another thing to sing one  there.

The Master’s Master Sound Track

How many people have started out with a ‘Top-10’ hit single-like experience in God, only to find their song hit the proverbial cutting room floor through the corrosive effects of trials, tests and temptations?

And how many have started out with the potential to produce a spiritual symphonic masterpiece, only to be prematurely cut short in their walk in God and left with the copyright to a B-grade jangle fit for an alcohol-fumed honky tonk?

What does it take to produce a master recording for the Master? – everything we’ve got. Every note played on the vinyl of our life gets recorded in heaven’s master sound room:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12

Every attitude, decision and action we make is mixed on God’s master sound board  and burned onto our very song, with our name as the recording artist.

However, the Lord’s grace gives us a chance to re-record the imperfect takes and get the music  right:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2

What Will Jesus Say About Our Song?

Will Jesus say to one of His angels?:

“Let’s hear the recording that Rachel (or John, or Cheryl or Chris) produced. I want to hear the sweet, harmonizing, perfectly mixed sound tracks that they produced while living for me in a dark and corrupt world.”

“I intentionally sent them musical rests (divine delays?) at several appointed times in their life. Did they interpret them as acts of unkindness from Me or did they keep a good attitude and allow those spaces of silence and rest get recorded on the master track? Let’s hear it.”

“And here, right there, I sent some harsh winds of adversity to get them to stay longer in the practice (prayer) room to hone their musical technique and gain mastery over their instrument. Let’s hear it and see.”

“And here, I decided to change the key right there to add dimension and rapturous breath to the musical arrangement. Did they perceive those abrupt and shattering changes as signals of my displeasure or frustration with their life? Or did they “roll with the punches” and allow faith to create the swelling and overpowering musical dynamics I was looking for? Let’s listen and see”.

“And lastly, I pulled out all the stops and really wanted MY glory to shine through their life. Yes. That time when it looked like things all around started to unravel and implode and only a MIRACLE from ME would bring them through.

It was that time I demanded an unparalleled display of faith and trust. It was their Paganini Caprice No. 24 moment, a “pull out all the stops” encounter with their angel of contention. Flesh against Spirit. Human will against Heaven’s will. The earth’s beggarly elements against Heaven’s storehouses of blessedness. Worldly ladders of cut-throat success against Heaven’s ladders of angelic succession.

It was all designed for a witness of My glory and presence in their life where no one could deny that God was doing it all. Come now, let’s hear it in all its splendor and musical genius”.

The Final Cut

How will our final life recording sound? Will it be something God would want to listen to? Will the recording of our life become one of His favorite soundtracks? Will we persevere until the end and finish the symphony that God desires to produce with our lives?

Only time will tell. We must not quit. We must not compromise. We cannot afford to stop short of applying track after track to the final, superbly mixed recording of our life symphony.

“Jesus, please help me to keep recording your symphony of love, hope and faith with my life . And Lord, help me to keep singing my song in the night!”

When God Prefers Darkness Over Light

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea,the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.  Psalms 139:11-12

It may seem paradoxical that the God of glory, the true Light of the world, would prefer darkness over light. One might also  think that darkness is the antithesis of God’s nature. We always perceive and equate the Holy with light, brilliance, and illumination; never obscure, shadowy, or undefined.

The role darkness plays in creation is an interesting subject. Could it be that there is a time and rightful place in God’s master plan when darkness is the preferred medium and approach? Let’s look at some examples and see.

Physical Growth

The most spectacular and wondrous process on earth occurs in total darkness; the growth of human life:

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child:  even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. (Eccl. 11:5)

From conception to birth, the handiwork of life emerging within a mother’s womb is unseen and cloaked in obscurity. God chose a realm devoid of light to fashion life created in His likeness.

Spiritual Growth

As with natural growth, spiritual growth also has its beginnings in the unseen domain of darkness. As the Apostle Paul writes in the Book of Galatians:

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you  (4:19)

Literally, the growth, development and maturity of Christ-likeness in a believer occurs over time unseen, invisible, and perhaps even unacknowledged to the believer themselves. How is this? Through the personal growth of God’s word in one’s life.

As one obeys and understands God’s word (or God’s will) the word slowly, but reassuringly, weaves itself into the fabric of the human soul (i.e., mind, will and emotions) to direct one’s thoughts, actions and behaviors that are pleasing and acceptable to God himself. Jesus chose two different natural processes to explain this growth process; all occurring in total darkness.

Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew,
and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Luke 13:18-21)

In both examples given to us by Jesus, the source of growth (the seed and leaven) work undercover, and in secret, naked to ‘human’ eyesight. Such is the growth of God’s kingdom on earth, in darkness.

Divine Revelation

Most often revelation given to mankind from God is done in darkness also:

What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:27)

What Jesus is saying here is that during your time of devotions, in the darkened confines of your prayer closet, that will be the time when you will hear from me and the time when you receive my direction. And to add to this, share that direction and revelation revealed in the dark with others in the ‘light’ of public display.

Additionally, it is sometimes only during times of trials, difficulties and the so-called ‘dark’ times in life that we truly get a firm grasp and understanding of how deep God’s mercy, grace, and compassion can reach. Recall the journey leading to the safe harbor of hope is precipitated from a starting block located in a very dark place:

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  (Romans 5:3-4)

The Darkness of Sin

Jesus came not to call the righteousness, but sinners to repentance. He came to ‘seek and to save that which is lost’. Jesus came to rescue the lost bound in the darkness of sin.

To do that, God had to leave the splendors of heaven’s light and majesty and visit a sinful and dark world. The Holy and sinless One chose darkness over light. God enrobed Himself in the veil of human flesh to redeem and offer hope to a world living in brokenness and despair.

And Jesus will always prefer darkness over artificial light. The Scribes, Pharisees and the religious hierarchy of Jesus’ day were nothing but artificial light. Jesus could not work with the man-made light of pretense, ritual, predictability, and self-glorified egotism that was and is called ‘religion’.

But give the true One some ‘darkness‘ to work with; an adulterous woman, a lady entangled in abusive relationships, lepers, the blind, a wealthy, cultured lady with a messed up home life, a corpse lying in a tomb for four days, a lady with an incurable  blood disorder, a daemon-whipped mad man, a corrupt tax collector, a foul-mouthed, arrogant fisherman, AND SEE WHAT THE MASTER CAN DO WITH THIS LOT. Yes, the King of Glory can take what is pitiful in the eyes of society and turn them into His pearls!

He who knew no sin, became sin for us! No one but a merciful and loving God would do such a thing. And why? So that we might become like him and partake of all His blessings and goodness:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
(Luke 12:32)

What a mighty God we serve, angels bow before Him, heaven and earth adore Him, what a mighty God we serve!