For Jesus disciples, the morning after the night before was a profound experience, and a launchpad for what was ahead of them.
The night before was, perhaps, a time of confusion and uncertainty. Maybe even disappointment. It drove them to return to things they had left behind. And yet, on returning to these old ways, they found that there was no fulfilment in them. There was no enjoyment. In fact, there was further disappointment. What worked for them before was not working now.
In the book Jesus, The Inner Spring (click the link to go to the page), there is a wonderful chapter titled
“Morning came, and there stood Jesus.”
At first the disciples did not know it was Jesus. We find that it was daybreak. Daybreak is defined as the moment in the morning when light first appears. It is the moment when the apparent darkness is pierced by the first shaft of visible light.
It has just dawned on me while writing that it says that Jesus was stood on the shore when morning came. The words are specific. It doesn’t say that Jesus appeared to his disciples, as he had done at other times, when or after morning came. It says, “Morning came, and there stood Jesus.” Was Jesus already there when morning came?
I am thinking that Jesus was stood there through the night. I can imagine Jesus doing something like that. I wonder if he watched by moonlight as his disciples toiled and strained and yet yielded nothing. I wonder if Jesus stood there through the darkness, unnoticed, waiting for the first light. Waiting for his disciples to see him. Waiting for them to come ashore and rest from their struggles.
When his disciples realise it is Jesus stood there, and they get to the shore, he says the most beautiful thing. “Come and eat.”
Jesus had been very clear with his disciples about all that was to happen to him. He had attempted to prepare them for what was to come. Perhaps they thought they were ready for it all. Clearly they weren’t, and their night of darkness came. But thankfully their morning of light also came.
This last few months have been a time of uncertainty for me, with a measure of confusion thrown in. And then last month, life changed dramatically for me and my family. I knew it was coming, but knowing what’s coming doesn’t prepare you for what you feel and experience when it comes. I’m not going to go into all the details and explain everything and give my thoughts, my perspective or the reasons for it. It wouldn’t be fair. And ultimately it’s not necessary. What matters is knowing Jesus in the middle of all this. But I will share just the facts.
The fact is my wife moved out of our home on July 6th. Like I say, I knew it was coming. It’s not something I ever wanted. I knew it was coming for some time. The actual moment came much quicker than I first expected though.
A couple of weeks back, the boys and I went on our first proper holiday, just the three of us. It was both a wonderful time and a challenging time. Thankfully the challenging moments, where I felt sad, wishing it had been the four of us there, were few, maybe two or three moments in the week . But they were still there. Then, last weekend after returning home on Friday, I felt very uncertain, confused and very alone. There was a feeling of immense disappointment.
But there’s something I’ve learnt these last few years. It is that the apparent darkness never lasts. What I think, feel, or perceive is nothing compared to the reality of Jesus himself. It’s just a matter of waiting for the morning. How long the ‘night’ lasts for us is not set in stone. It varies. Sometimes it might be a few hours. At times it might be a few days. Other times it might be a few years. But there is one guarantee. Morning comes, and Jesus is there. Light himself brings a new day, Peace, a sense of hope.
You have to understand that there has been a lot happened this last few years. It has been a time of incredible loss in many ways. I have been challenged for some time by Paul’s words about considering everything else as rubbish compared to the worth of knowing Christ Jesus. My friend Freddie has for some time encouraged me that I must be prepared to lose everything knowing that if I have Jesus I have everything. There have been moments where I’ve wondered, “What next?”
It’s very easy as followers of Jesus to talk about being willing to do what Paul did. It’s very easy to say that we have done this, or that we would do anything for Jesus. To throw around the scripture cheaply without actually living it. It’s very different when Jesus challenges you to take him at his word and actually do it. When everything is on the line and you say yes to Jesus, no matter what.
On Tuesday morning, I was getting ready. I hadn’t slept particularly well. Having just showered and whilst shaving, I suddenly knew Jesus saying these words, “Come and eat.” Morning came.
I don’t know about you and where you are. Maybe you feel you are in the middle of a night time. Perhaps you have a sense of struggle and pain, of uncertainty, confusion and disappointment. It’s OK, none of us are superhuman. I remember AW Tozer talking about being suspicious of any man who appeared too perfect. I am the same. Who knows what is in the heart of a man other than our Father? And so we should recognize that these feelings are genuine feelings, even if they aren’t the greater reality, and it’s OK.
But let me encourage you. I think today I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus was there for his disciples through the night. If he wasn’t already there, this wouldn’t be true;
“Morning came, and there stood Jesus.”
Jesus is already present. King David knew it. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.”
Perhaps you go back to things, places or ways that you used to know. And perhaps you are finding they don’t feel like they used to. There is no enjoyment or comfort in them. In fact, they are an even greater stress for you!
Have hope. See Jesus. Morning breaks. Hear Jesus say,
“Come and eat.”
You can and will enjoy your morning after the night before.
Eat the Living Bread, drink the Living Water.