By Eddie Jones
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Genesis 15:12 (NIV)
I can recall with vivid clarity the terror I felt sitting in the Atlanta airport with no ticket, no cash, and no way home. My connection flight from Managua, Nicaragua left one hour later than scheduled. For the duration of the flight I had silently prayed that my connecting flight to D.C. would also be delayed.
It was not.
I disembarked and approached the ticket counter near our gate, inquiring about another flight. All full. I suggested flights to alternative airports. Those too were sold out. I had two choices: sleep in the airport and wait for an early morning flight home or pray.
I retreated to a solitary area away from the shouting hoard of irate passengers and opened my Bible. After highlighting passages and claiming God's pledge of provision I whispered my prayer: "Please, Father, I just want to go home." An unnatural peace settled upon me. Though my circumstances had not changed I knew somehow God would deliver me to my bed that evening.
There is a sickness that settles in the pit of my stomach when I sense the absence of God's presence. My ears ring, skin becomes cool and moist. Nausea overwhelms me. The symptoms are similar to motion sickness and perhaps that's what it is—an unholy motion of me moving into a thick and dreadful darkness without Him.
The Psalmist writes:
"The Lord God is a sun and a safe-covering. He holds nothing good from those who walk in the way that is right." Psalm 84:11
"They who look for the Lord will not be without any good thing." Psalm 34:10.
"The angel of the Lord stays close around those who fear him, and he takes them out of trouble." Psalm 34:7
"Because you have made the Lord your safe place, and the Most High the place where you live, nothing will hurt you. No trouble will come near your tent." Psalm 91:9.
Powerful promises. And yet sometimes despite God's assurance of safety we succumb to fitful dreams full of darkness and dread.
Abram left the security of his father's people and walked with God into a land of promise. His reward? Famine. He believed God's promise of a son but his wife remained barren well past her child-bearing years. Abram pitched his tent in the shadow of God's mountain, yet lived among evil people bent on destruction and rebellion. Promises from God—problems from man.
In desperation Abram asked, "O Sovereign Lord how can I know…?" Isn't that the question we ask? How can I know? How can I be certain there is a God? And if there is, how can I be certain he loves me, will care for me, and will protect me?
In the depths of Abram's nightmare, God appeared to him as a blazing torch and a smoking firepot. Hardly comforting images. But writer of Hebrews reminds us: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Terrifying indeed. He is a consuming fire. This too is a part of his presence.
That night in the Atlanta airport, I sensed God nudging me to check another counter, plead my case with another ticketing agent. I explained that while my car was in D.C. my home was in Raleigh. "Is there any way, any chance at all, you can put me on a flight to Raleigh." She checked. One seat left. My eyes misted as she handed me my ticket.
God does not always sweep away our problems but He does promise to be with us through the trials. Do you sense a dreadful darkness sweeping over you? Perhaps the gloom you feel is the shadow of the Most High leaning over you as He prepares to scoop you up in His arms. If so, let the trials come. Then watch in awe as he loves you through them.
Copyright © 2014 Eddie Jones. Used by permission.
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Eddie Jones is an award-winning author with HarperCollins and CEO of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is also the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries. Learn more about Eddie at EddieJones.org
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