Last night the power went out.

It was 11:29 pm (I looked at the clock) and immediately sat up in bed to listen for the little ones.  Hunter, who sleeps like a rock, surprisingly wakes up almost every time the power shuts off.  Madison, whose sleep could be disturbed by the slightest noise, usually keeps snoozing right on through.  Strange, I know.

Sure enough, I heard ‘Mooomm….Moooooommmm!!” coming from their bedroom. I went in, comforted Hunter, covered Madision back up (who didn’t make a peep and rolled right back over to keep sleeping) and was about to leave when he started to protest.

‘Mom, make the light come back on!’

‘Mom, is the fan coming back on?’

We all sleep with fans in our bedrooms for the white noise, and the kids have a small blue nightlight next to their beds.

I told him I would go to the bathroom then come back to sit in the rocking chair for a bit and we could talk about it.

Luckily, the power returned while I was peeing (short power outages are common in our neighborhood, usually with no noticeable cause) so by the time I got back to his bedside the fan & nightlight were back in working order.

Tucking the covers tight around him, I told Hunter I loved him and reminded him that if the light went off again, just wait patiently for the fan to come on and then the light will come back on too.  We’d been through this situation before, reciting the same conversation each time.

‘But Mom, can you make the light stay on?’

Um, no.  I’m not in charge of the power grid for the whole city, bud.  Nor am I in control of whatever weather implements might cause another power blip.  Sorry dude.

I encouraged him that the light is on right now and that he could go back to sleep and that I loved him.  Then I felt nudged to take it a step further, so I knelt down by his bed and whispered,

‘Remember bud, Jesus is always close to us, even when it’s dark.  He told us that even in the darkest place he is soooo close to us. The Holy Spirit is right with you to comfort you.  So you can talk to Jesus if the light and fan go off again, and He will be right here with you.’

‘But Mom, can you make the light stay on?’

Ding.

That question.  It’s the question I so often ask when I find myself in dark places.  ‘But God, You can make the light stay on?  Right?’  We are promised deep valleys and trials and difficult times, but we are also promised His never-ending, ever-present closeness.  He is with us.  He will never leave us.  Sometimes in those dark places we have something that gives us a little bit of hope, a tiny glimmer of light. Something that reminds us, ‘Hey, you’re okay!  You’ll make it through.’  Something tangible and current and real.

And sometimes, the power goes out.

We are left in the utter darkness, calling out, ‘God? Gooooood? Goooooooooooddddd?!?!’

As I lay in bed last night after settling Hunter back to sleep, it hit me that nothing really had changed when the power cut out.  We were all still safe in our warm beds.  It was still night time, just like when the power was on.  Yet for some reason, the sudden lack of those common comfort items made the darkness seem so much more.

The darkness hasn’t changed.  God never changes.  It’s the other stuff that comes and goes.  Things I gather around me for comfort or security.  Things that aren’t necessarily bad but can slowly become the foundation of my hope and courage.  Why?  ‘Cause I can see them.  Or they are familiar.  Or I – plain and simple – like them a whole lot better than I like the darkness.

It’s not about embracing fatalism and accepting that my life will forever exist in sorrow.  Remember, there are some quiet streams and green pastures with my name on them.  And truthfully, my life is pretty stinkin’ awesome.  Yet in the darkness I think I am realizing that it’s about embracing Him.  The One who is Light.  The One who contained the darkness.  The One who is good and perfect, even when it’s so dark I can’t see it.

The darkness doesn’t change who He is nor does it change who He made me to be.  My identity in Him goes beyond the deep valleys and long nights.

Which is something I will think about whenever the power goes out again.  Unless, of course, I figure out how to make the light stay on.

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