I always look forward to daylight savings time in spring where we get to “spring ahead” and have an extra hour of light at the end of the day. I love the promise of spring that brings new life, longer days and warmth.
When I was growing up, our summer routine consisted of getting all of our work done around home as early as possible so we could spend the rest of the day in the pool. The summer routine of my youth still continues with my own family today. During the week, the kids and I get all of our jobs done at home and then head over to my sister’s for long afternoons of swimming and playing in their pool. Our weekends look much the same, only we trade the pool and deck for a lake and pontoon and my husband is able to join us. The kids spend hours swimming, fishing, snacking, tubing, kayaking and kneeboarding on a handful of lakes in our area.
With myself primarily being a homemaker, I love the long daylight hours and warmer temperatures. Longer days means more outdoor play for the kids and outdoor bathrooms for my three boys. That means less housework for me! With warmer temps, all five kids wear less clothing and spend about half of their time in their swimming suits. That makes less laundry for me too!
But there is always a sense of sadness in knowing that the short days and long nights of winter are over. I have found that there are treasures in the dark season of winter. Winter seems to be a season where we slow down. There are cozy evenings of popcorn and family movies. Jigsaw puzzles can take up space for a lengthy time as passers-by put a few pieces together here and there. An earlier bedtime during the winter months is a favorite of mine. And then, ever so gradually, the light lingers longer and longer each day.
All too often, I view darkness as a threat rather than savoring darkness for what it is. As an adolescent, I recall (on rare occasions) being alone in the farmhouse of my childhood. When darkness would befall, I would tear through the house, groping around in the inky blackness of night, looking to flip on every light switch that I could find. With the flip of a switch, the darkness would instantly vanish and I would be momentarily blinded by the sudden change. Light meant safety. I was convinced that there was a boogeyman somewhere that wouldn't come out if the lights were on. My folks would come home and tease, “Is this Motel 6, because they’ll leave the light on for ya?!” after the old Motel 6 radio ads.
About six years ago, I went through a very dark season emotionally. I felt as though I were falling into a pit with no way out. When I reached rock bottom (metaphorically speaking), my instinct was to start groping around in the cataclysmic darkness which surrounded me — searching for a light switch to flip and instantly drive out the darkness.
Fumbling around in the emotional darkness of the pit I had found myself in, searching for an instant fix, proved only to be exhausting. One evening, as I was searching scripture, looking for a quick fix from God, the Lord spoke to me through Isaiah 45:3 saying, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.”
It was then that the eyes of my heart were opened to the idea that if I were to quit groping around in darkness looking for a quick fix; if I chose to quit striving and trust that God would not allow this darkness I was feeling to consume me; I just might find treasures.
As I survey my life now, I can see the treasures that I found in that place of emotional darkness. I learned that striving only leads to exhaustion, a lesson which I treasure. I learned that in the age of instant gratification, being willing to persevere through hard things is a treasure. I found that the few moments at the start of my day, when all is quiet in my home, are moments I treasure. I noticed that these treasures were found in the secret, hidden places of my heart, life and home. It didn’t take long for me to start finding these treasures once I allowed myself to get used to the darkness. And once that happened, I began to hear the quiet, unintrusive voice of the Lord calling me by name “out of the darkness and into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). I chose to follow that voice and ever so gradually, my darkness dissipated. A light shone in my soul and lingered just a bit longer each day.
Friends, darkness is not always a threat. There are times that treasures are waiting in the darkest moments of our lives. If we are willing to allow ourselves to stop groping, striving and fumbling around for a switch, treasures may be nearer than we think.
Whitney Nesse is a sixth-generation livestock farmer who is deeply rooted in her faith and family. She writes from her central Minnesota farm.