Fence Post of Faith July 2011

You ever notice that most all Rodeos and Barrel Races start off with the Star Spangled Banner. And you sing along because it’s a song you have know since you were young! But have you ever pondered it words, the first course goes: “Oh, Say can you see by the dawn’s Early light, What so proudly we hailed at the Twilight’s Last Gleaming.”

You ever notice that light is mentioned in the first two courses, we depend on light a lot in our life and play. Without light we couldn’t have night rodeos or barrel races, we could even drive at night account we need light to see to get from one place to the next, especially true on the Fourth of July weekend, when we are trying to make as many rodeos as we can over the fourth.

We depend on light for so many things even something as small as a night light. Like most kids, my grandsons also need a night light in their rooms when they stay over. They need the protection and assurance against the dark. Interestingly, so did the Israelites. As Moses led them away from Egypt, if you’ll read in Exodus 13 God was with them during the day as a pillar of cloud and at night was present as a pillar of fire, never leaving the people. God was our first night light.

If you ask my grandsons why they need a night light they will tell you that the darkness is scary! It symbolizes the unknown and we tend to worry about we can’t see than what we can. And our culture preys upon that fear.

Darkness is also where we are most Vulnerable, where we have the least of control. Often in the Bible God would come to people in dreams because I believe it was the only time God could get a word in edge wise. Dreams can be fertile ground for experiencing God. But even our dreams are exploited for their fear factor. Movies like “Monsters Inc.” and books like “Where the Wild Things Are” send the message that when we close our eyes, we expose ourselves to the creepy crawlies of the night, the bogeyman who lurk in the shadows.

While we’ve been conditioned to see the end of the day as fraught with fear, I believe God calls us to see the end of the day in a different light, so to speak. As we spend a Day with God, we need to consider other perspectives on the coming of “That Good Night.”

When I was a youngster I wasn’t happy to see darkest fall, not only because of my childish fears but because it meant the fun of the day was over. Now, as an adult and a parent and a wage-earner, I welcome the end of the day. After whatever morning quiet time I’m given, I hit the ground running and usually didn’t stop until the kids were finally put to bed with their night lights on. There’s nothing scary about that time for me!

But I believe the anxiety the night brings goes deeper that just the end of the day. We adults bring our own boogiemen with us into the dark of night. The coming of the night is not just the time for summing up one day but also a reminder of our mortality. When you visit folks in the nursing homes they tell you they dread night coming. They get there nights and days mixed up and it’s understandable because some point in our lives, our days will ultimately end and night will settle in permanently for our time here on earth.  Each day, as the time winds down and our bodies prepare to rest, we close our eyes, trusting that we’ll open them the next morning.

A few months ago, I woke up in the night with a terrible case of heartburn, the first time I’ve ever had it as I lay there with these mysterious chest pains, I remember thinking, “What if this is it? What if I won’t see the sun again? Did I do everything I wanted to do? Did I say everything to people I wanted to say? Each time we close our eyes, we are assuming that we will open them again. I wonder if we take that for granted.

 

I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, a lot of my anxiety about the nighttime is not caused by what could happen in the coming night, but by what didn’t happen during the day. We stay so busy that often times when we get to the evening we don’t intentionally stop and rest so much as we just run out of gas. If we could, many of us would keep on going well into the night because we know there is so much still to be done. I said a few weeks ago that often my first thoughts in the morning are about my to-do list. I believe that’s because my last thoughts the night before are of the same things.

And yet what God offers us each night is a chance to release whatever burdens we bring with us to the night. Whatever went wrong, whatever unfortunate words were spoken, whatever resentments we harbored, the night is a chance to let them go. And ultimately, we are powerless to change that. What we do have is the power to turn to God, our constant companion during the day, and say, “You know? This day was ok, some good and some bad. Thanks for being there with me. Help me to do better tomorrow. Better yet, help me be better tomorrow.”

 

When we close our eyes, our hopes and trust is that we will have a tomorrow when we can set the record straight and say things a little calmer, smarter, or kinder, a tomorrow when we can finish working on the unfinished business, A day when we can continue living our never-ending story.

 

So as we come to the end of our day. We’ve welcomed God into our lives in the morning, walking with God during the day, and place our trust in God as we close our eyes at night. Was it a perfect day? No. None of them are, but because God was with us, it was a good day. That’s a good reason to rejoice, give thanks, and prepare to start a new day tomorrow.

 

Don’t forget July 15-17 Rapid City Sd. Barrelbash, and Minot ND was cancelled due to flooding. Have fun during July, be safe and well leave the light on for ya.

Adios Jeff Metcalf.