“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12, ESV)
Fade to Black
If you have ever used a video editor, you are probably familiar with “fade-to-black.” It is a transition that can be applied to a video clip. It is most often used at the end of the video. The name is descriptive. The “fade-to-black” transition causes the video to simply fade out until you are left with only a black screen.
You can make this transition long or short. You can shorten the transition to the point that the screen just goes black. You can also lengthen the transition so that it is a gradual fade. It may fade so slowly that you barely notice the screen getting darker until you can no longer see it.
This is a parable for many things in life that are a slow fade. So many of our struggles and challenges in life do not come upon us overnight. Rather, it is a slow fade over time. Maybe you are not exactly where you want to be, it is likely you did not get there all of a sudden.
Consider monetary debt. Many people find themselves in seemingly insurmountable debt. The mountain of debt did not happen as a result of one major expense. It is week-in-week-out spending. One week you spend just a little bit more than you earn. It does not seem like a big deal. It was not that much. But you do it again the next week. And then the week after that. Over time, a little bit adds up to a lot. It is the slow fade into financial distress.
Or consider your marriage. You got married. You were so in love. You spent so much time together at first. You made the marriage your number one priority. But then came the career. Then the kids entered the picture. Life just had a way of happening. It was not that you said no to your marriage. It was that other things just slowly crowded your marriage out of the center.
Or consider your relationship with God. There is a reason we encourage consistent weekly worship and daily devotions. When you miss one Sunday, it becomes easy to miss the next. You miss a daily Bible reading, it becomes easy to miss the next. It is not that you chose to deliberately abandon your relationship with God. It was one small choice here. Then another small choice there. Slowly, the light of God fades and what remains is the darkness of the world.
You became lost and find yourself in a place you never imagined you would find yourself. It was a slow and gradual fade. You may not even be sure how you got to where you got.
You may have faded so far into the blackness that you have given up hope. There is no more light. Fade-to-black is for the end of the video. You think that this must be how the story ends.
More to Be Told
But I want you to pay close attention to the first words of Joel 2:12. God has declared, “YET EVEN NOW!”
There is an invitation … “YET EVEN NOW!” … as far gone as you may feel … no matter how long it took you to get where you are … there is no darkness too dark where the light God cannot reach. Your situation is not too dark. It is not too broken. It is not too unsurmountable. It is not too far gone.
You think there is no way out. You feel like giving up and resigning yourself to the darkness. But the light will always overcome the darkness. And the darker the darkness, the brighter the light will shine.
When the Israelites left Egypt, the came up against the edge of the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army was chasing them from behind. This seemed like the end. There was no scenario of how this would work out for good. There was no way out and no way through. There was nothing the Israelites could do. It seemed the story was over.
But God intervenes. The Red Sea is parted for the Israelites to walk across dry land. Pharaoh’s army is drowned. God opened a path where there was previously no path. He annihilated the overwhelming army that had come against them.
It was not the end of the story, but simply the beginning of a new chapter. “YET EVEN NOW!” It is a call to faith. It is a call to believe that God is not done with you yet. That in so many ways, he is just getting started. That as bleak as it may seem, there is a new chapter to be written. There is more of your story to be told. And what is to come is even better than what was before.
- What is an area of your life that has faded into the darkness?
- Are you lacking faith that a new chapter can be written?
- How does God’s Word give you hope the story is not over?
Lord, I don’t know how I got here. I have doubted that things could be made new. I have resigned myself to things remaining the way they are. I have conceded that this must be how the story ends. But I pray this day that you would renew my spirit. Give me confidence that “YET EVEN NOW!” … although I am so far gone … you will intervene to restore, resurrect, and revive me. Write a new chapter in my story that is even better than the last. Amen