The lady in the airplane seat next to me was from Norway. And I knew she had experienced something I needed to know about - winter months with very long nights and summer months with very long days. With our Native American team planning major summer outreach among Native young people in Alaska, I was especially interested in what our days would be like up there. My neighbor from Norway made the answer very clear - they would be endless! She said that even after all the years living there, she never can sleep much in those northern days where there is virtually no dark. I thought, "O-o-o, it should be a lot of fun getting our team to sleep at night, when there is no night." But then I was curious to know about those December days when we have only about nine hours or so of daylight. She told me about a time when it was, in her words, "almost always dark," where she lives. It's hard for me to imagine weeks where you basically never see the light of the sun. It's not hard for me to imagine the way my Norwegian neighbor said many people feel during that time - really depressed.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When The Night Never Stops."
A long, depressing darkness. You don't have to live in the North Country to know what darkness like that feels like - in your heart, that is. It may have been winter inside your soul for a long time - maybe concealed from others by a smiling mask or a very busy life. But it's still dark inside most of the time.
It might be the guilt of mistakes that you've made that has brought on the long winter. Or a nagging sense of worthlessness. Or a chronic despair over the pain of the past or the meaninglessness of the present. Or it could be the darkness might be summed up in one increasingly, desperate word - loneliness. But whatever the cause, this heaviness inside, this relentless darkness has been there long enough.
The end of a long, long night can begin with a hope-filled promise made by Jesus Christ - who has never made a promise He did not keep. It's our word for today from the Word of God, John 8:12, "Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" Jesus promises that if you belong to Him, if you'll stay close to Him, He will lead you out of the darkness that no one else has been able to dispel - the beginning of the end of your long, dark winter.
But only Jesus can replace your darkness with what He called "the light of life." Why? Because our problem isn't really the darkness. Near the North Pole in winter, the problem is that the sun doesn't shine there. Our problem isn't ultimately the darkness of our loneliness or despair - it's the absence of the Light! We were created to live in a love-relationship with our Creator, which we have lost by running our lives our way instead of His way. In God's own words, "Your sins have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2).
That separation could only be healed by the death penalty for your sin being erased. And that's what was going on when Jesus was bleeding and dying on that cross - He was paying for your sin, which is the ultimate cause of the darkness in your soul. And the forgiveness, the peace, the light He died to give you becomes yours when you tell Him you're trusting Him to be your Savior from your sin.
If you do that, Jesus will shed His light on every dark stretch you ever walk, including the darkest stretch of all, when one day you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Why don't you open your heart to Jesus Christ today, right where you are? It's been dark long enough.
Then this wonderful promise of God will be all about you - "God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." (Colossians 1:13)