Monday, December 21, 2009

in thy dark streets shineth

The Word for today:
Isaiah 17-19

I used to be a student of literature. I read it all; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Around and about my 40th year, I fell in love with Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

It was then that I forsook every other book. I didn't know it at the time, because it was never my intention to leave all else behind. But every other love grew pale by comparison. Yet even now, just a turn of the corner or a turn of the calendar page stirs up a line I thought I'd lost.

I pick up my sons after school and take them into the city, into Lockport, to run on these wintry afternoons. The houses block the wind in a city, making it far more hospitable for the runner. This morning Frankie reminded me to pick them up by 3:30, "Because today is the darkest day of the year, Dad. It's dark by 5:00." Then they were out the door and on the school bus.

Two of my favorite lines from all those forsaken books and poems came to mind as I watched them board their bus. In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Robert Frost is drawn to the unfathomable:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

In "The Great Gatsby," Daisy Buchanan notes an unrequited longing:
"Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it!"

Israel's darkest days are noted by the prophets. We are in the midst of them in this portion of Isaiah.

But that's not how this ends. Beginning with chapter 40, the Light of the World will break forth upon these pages.

That pattern prevails across the pages of scripture, from the very beginning in Genesis 1:
Darkness was upon the face of the deep. And then God said, Let there be light.

Darkness is perpetually overtaken by the light:
And the evening and the morning were the first day; and the evening and the morning were the second day; and the third day; and the fourth; the fifth; sixth.

The night of sin--so pitilessly and relentlessly denounced by the prophets--is overtaken, on the last page of the last book of the prophets, when the Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings. (Malachi 4:2)

The establishment of this biblical pattern is but a foreshadow of the One in whom all things consist. (Colossians 1:17)

The prophecy of judgment and the promise of forgiveness conjoined as God took the punishment for sin out on Himself:
The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

All things merged in Him. God's hatred of sin was visited upon Jesus as God forged His righteousness in us:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The darkest day and the brightest day met in Him, then.

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him, tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment