When God Turned Off the Lights
By Cecil Murphey
(Excerpt from When God Turned Off the Lights)
The lights went off about 7:30 on the night before Thanksgiving. In retrospect, they had probably been flickering for days, maybe weeks, but I hadn’t noticed.
I use the image of lights going off because that’s how it felt. I left church after an excellent Bible study. As I drove out of the parking lot, I started to pray. Something didn’t feel right. I had no sense of God hearing me.
Of course God heard me, but it was as if I kept sending emails and my server replied, “Error.” We lived about a 20-minute drive from church, and all the way home, I tried to connect to God, but I wasn’t getting through. I drove through a dark residential section near our subdivision. Lights had gone out for the entire neighborhood. The power company vehicle had arrived and workers tried to repair the damaged lines.
“That’s it! That’s how I feel. I feel like I’m moving around in the dark.” In that community the power line broke. In my case, God simply switched off the lights. I fumbled around in spiritual darkness.
In some ways, that seemed strange. For weeks, starting back as early as late June, I had cried out, “God, give me more. I want more light. I want to grow. I want to feel closer to You.” I pleaded in dozens of ways, but nothing seemed to change until the night before Thanksgiving.
God plunged me into a place without light, and I stayed in the moonless night for the next year and a half. I also want to make clear that God thrust me into the black pit. Or to use the biblical concept, God hid His face from me.
For months I cried out in confusion. How can this be? I pleaded with God for more light; God answered by kicking me into darkness.
When I stumbled into a time of spiritual emptiness, I had no preparation for it and I didn’t know whom to ask. At one point, I cried out, “What did I do to deserve this?” Only near the end did God let me figure out part of the answer.
I had been a faithful Christian, and I could list all the things I had done in service to Jesus Christ. But when a man is as miserable as I was, my good deeds and faithful service didn’t seem to make any difference.
I felt as if God had left the room, switched off the lights and left me alone. I could find no instructions about how to find the lights or how to turn them on.
Although I didn’t know any other believer who lived without light, I read in the Bible about those who felt the same kind of anguish. In fact, that’s the one factor that made the 18 months bearable.
I’ve written this book for those who want to grow spiritually. Although based on my experience, my purpose is to help others when they face the blackness in life—when they want more of God but the lights stay off.
God has many ways to teach us, and one of them is to make us walk down dark corridors, unable to see ahead. We’re fearful of falling but we also learn to trust that God is with us even then.
If we want to grow, we will go through periods of darkness, confusion or turmoil. Living a God-pleasing life isn’t easy; we’re never promised it would be. Yet we seem surprised, shocked or depressed when we encounter such places.
When we can’t find the light switch, maybe we need to ask ourselves, Is this God’s way to take me into greater light? Must I first grasp the darkness to appreciate the light?
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I pleaded with God for more light; God answered by kicking me into darkness.
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Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information about Cecil Murphey, visit www.themanbehindthewords.com.
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