An hour before dawn, I wake in the dark. Terror and crankiness, my usual first emotions, rip at my soul. Already, before my eyes are even open, darkness is upon me. From my limited perspective, trapped in this jar of clay, I cannot see the eternal verities. I cannot see heaven. The spiritual forces are outside my sight. My God is an invisible God, pure Spirit, present everywhere. My Savior has on flesh; but he is veiled from my eyes, awaiting the day when he returns in glory. I see as through a muddied glass, darkly.

All is murky without and within. Glumly, I face the day.

Then the Lord reminds me of the truth. He has given a daily illustration of reality to remind me of himself: the sunrise. Each day the sun drives the darkness away. Such is my Lord’s presence. Such will be his coming. Deliberately, I turn to face the location where the sun will make its appearance.

Already the horizon grows light. Naked, black, and lacy-branched, the winter trees stand stark against the growing daylight—a vivid illustration of the spiritual certainties that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The brilliance of the sun would not be as vivid if it didn’t eradicate darkness, if we were continually bathed in light. We need this contrast to see the light for what it really is. Radiance that slides up over the horizon—disbanding the black of night before it, turning the horizon pink and warm and glowing, shedding light abroad—is truly spectacular. Here comes the sun!

Likewise, light must illuminate my blackened soul. Deliberately, I turn to face the Son, pausing to focus on him, drawing light and warmth from the remembrance of his nearness and person. I need not remain dark and downcast—I have a Savior. The sharp contrast between my black, naked, morning-waking soul and his glorious presence within me grows sharper as I recall who he is and what he’s done for me.

Your name alone has power to raise us. Your light will shine when all else fades. Our eyes will look on your glorious face, shining like the sun! Who is like you, God? You are holy, holy, holy, God most high and God most worthy! You are holy, holy, holy, Jesus you are! Jesus you are!

Who shall we say you are? You’re the living God! Who shall we say you are? You’re the great I am! The highest name of all, you’re all you say you are!

A mere fifteen minutes later, darkness is departing. The horizon now glows pink all around the rim—the sunspot grows more radiant by the moment. Likewise, the gloomy hard place in my heart is letting go. I’ve remembered reality: I am no longer in darkness. I have a Savior. He is mine, and I am his.

The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes…You’re rich in love, and you’re slow to anger. Your name is great, and your heart is kind. For all your goodness, I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

I open my praise journal to record the reasons my heart delights in him. Darkness is dissipated.

In dazzling glory of pink, orange, and lightest of purples the sun is now bursting over the horizon, shooting beams of light as far as the western horizon—a reminder of the reality of my Lord’s presence and his return, when the veil will be removed and we’ll see him face to face, never to be terrified and cranky again.

And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near, and my time has come. Still my soul will sing your praise unending, 10,000 years and then forevermore. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

[Lyrics are quoted from “Holy” and “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord).]

Featured image: Sweet Hour of Prayer by Aaron Burden,