Greetings and welcome again to Meditation Moments and that old-time blessing: The Lord bless you and make you a blessing.
We’re going to talk tonight for a little while about “the lights going on.” I was reading some time ago the verse of scripture in 2 Samuel 22:29, “The Lord will lighten my darkness.” And then I found a little clipping by Francis E. Seaworth, and he was saying,
“One late afternoon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wanting to be alone, I entered a strange cathedral and sat down amid the silence and semi-darkness. It was a gloomy place at that hour. Had I not known that I was in the house of God, I should have not cared to be there. The windows were especially foreboding. Presently, a caretaker approached me, and thinking he wished me to leave so that he could lock up, I started to go.
“Oh no,” he whispered, “Don’t go until the lights come on!” So I waited. The room became darker, the shadows deepened, the windows were ugly and repelling, and I wanted so much to leave. Then suddenly the street lights came on in full and the whole scene was changed.
What a transformation! I thought I had never seen such exquisite coloring, such heavenly suggestiveness as the windows gave forth in their wonderful coloring. Everything was enhanced with unearthly beauty that fed my soul, and I wanted to capture and keep it forever.
Then I thought of the darkness which had shrouded many times my spirit, and how inexplicitly it can vanish with the joy of the Lord coming in and His light flooding the soul. “The Lord will lighten my darkness.” So I had learned a secret from the old caretaker, yes I had! Don’t go until the lights come on. “Wait on the Lord, wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:7)
Many times I have thought of that: “Wait till the lights come on.” You have often heard us say that prayer changes things. Well, someone wrote some time ago that prayer didn’t change things for them. “I tried it a few times and gave up.” Later then, I wrote that person and I said, “You didn’t give God time. You didn’t hold on for the answer.” Time is sometimes a very important element in getting an answer to your prayer. Someone has wisely said, “It takes a lot of time for God to grow a great big oak tree.”
There are many reasons why prayer cannot be immediately answered. I know it is hard to understand, but some day you will. This, however, I do understand: That many times prayer would have been answered had we waited until the lights came on, just given God a chance, waited a little longer—if we hadn’t let discouragement make us give up before we had prayed through the victory.
It isn’t that God has refused to answer; it’s just that we don’t wait for the lights to come on. You know, there is such a fixed determination in real faith, the faith that stands this test of waiting. There are those like Jacob of old who say, “I will not let thee go unless thou dost bless me.” (Genesis 32:26)
Then they get down to wrestling in prayer, and they search their hearts to see if they are meeting God’s conditions. And that’s so necessary. We talk so much about faith, but I’ve always tried to remember to say, you must meet God’s conditions! You must search your heart and search the written Word, God’s Word, until faith is strengthened! God says in one place that His ears aren’t deaf and His arm is not shortened that He cannot save. (Isaiah 59:1)
But He says, “Your sins have separated between you and your God and he cannot hear you.” (Isaiah 59:2) It’s strange that God could be deaf and He cannot hear because sin is there! You remember that verse we’ve quoted so many times: “If our hearts condemn us not, we have boldness to come to the throne and ask for mercy in the time of need.” (1 John 3:21–22; Hebrews 4:16)
Will you just do that and hold on and press on regardless of every obstacle?–Just so the heart is right, just so you have met the conditions. With that dogged determination, so many times you will get through! There may be some times, like we’ve always thought to remind you, sometimes God has to say no.
But you can’t just look at the discouragement, the weariness. Just hold on, march a little longer, wait till the lights come on. Hold on! God will hear, and that “little longer” spirit that fights on regardless of appearances or the discouraging voices about you, does bring results. I have tried it so many times.
It isn’t that their battle was any less severe than ours, but they just stopped fighting; they just stopped short of the time that God would have answered.
I was reading today in 1 Kings, the 18th chapter, you remember where Elijah sent the servant up to look towards the sea and see if there was a cloud. You know how he held on. He said to the servant: “Go again.” The servant came back, said there was nothing. “Go again,” said Elijah. He came back, said there was nothing. And that answer kept coming all the time: nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing in sight. Seven times the servant had to go back, and at last Elijah said, “Go up and look again.” And, “Behold, there ariseth a cloud out of the sea like a man’s hand.” You know the rest of the story, how the rain came, how God so wonderfully answered prayer! (1 Kings 18:41–45)
The Duke of Wellington, who conquered Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, said that it wasn’t that the British soldiers were braver than the French soldiers, but it could have been that they could hold on just a little longer. The victory was determined by that waiting.
Anything wonderful can happen in just that little margin of time when you don’t give up, and when you keep on believing and keep on praying. Robert Browning said that he faced death, but he said: “One fight more and it’s going to be the best, though it is the last!”
Dr. Frederick Harris described this spirit in these words: “Often the deciding issue in any contest is not when one is outnumbered, but when and where one stops fighting. The final score is determined by a struggle that is pushed just a little longer.”
It is in those last few moments sometimes that God gives the greatest victory! George MacDonald declared, “The sight of a man’s back is sometimes one of the most pathetic things; that often means that someone was in the very sight of victory when he turned around.”
But as the old hymn has it: “Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail.” [From “Almost Persuaded,” by Philip Paul Bliss (1838–1876)] Hold on! Wait till the lights come on. God will send His light and God will give victory. He gets His greatest victories, remember, out of seeming defeats.
God bless you and make you a blessing. He is still on the throne and prayer does change things.