Just on the red clay hill that flanks my grandmother's old brick house there is a tall, tar-covered, power pole, a pole upon which the electric co-op elected to place a bright, buzzing bulb, triggered to ignite at the signs of dusk. That light served as an alarm clock for my cousins and me. As children out playing in the orange-red clay on that very bank, the click, hum, and buzz of that light were signals that Grandma would soon holler out the small window over the kitchen sink for us to come inside, get washed up, eat, and settle down for bed.
When we got older and began tinkering with old trucks in the backyard, that light became the signal to tell us it wasn't much longer before the Charlie Gilmore show would begin on the radio; it told us that we would have to hurry and finish what we had to do before God turned the lights out. That old light had one message coded in its buzzing and humming...NIGHT IS COMING.
I wonder if we realize how seriously Jesus meant these words to His disciples: "We must work the works of the him who sent me while it is still day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4 NRSV).
Do you get it? Night IS coming. Jesus doesn't say that night may be coming; he doesn't say that the night is coming, when only those on the day shift can't work. No. Night is coming when NO ONE can work.
Now, don’t jump to the eschatological conclusion that is so tempting here. Isn’t the coming night itself urgency enough to be about the work of Christ? Millions of people (including children) will face this coming night without having eaten today. Millions around the world will face the coming night with terror in their hearts as the sound of machine guns and the flash of bombs threaten their peace in the night. Countless others will attempt to escape whatever sin and hell has defined their lives in the light of day.
The words of our Lord are couched in the context of the healing of a blind man "so that God's works might be revealed." That is the work that the day is given for--revealing God's works, works of healing and salvation.
Yet, we seem to have forgotten the darkness of the night. We put it off as unimportant, nonexistent, treating it not as the terrible time it is, but as factory workers, waiting for the five o'clock whistle--"finally, now we can go home." We spend the day in the splendor of the light, assuming it is the culmination and purpose of our work, and yet...the night is STILL coming.
The night is coming, and there are those who will be left out in the darkness, because we have neglected the work of the day, those forgotten because we have enjoyed the cloudless skies of the day. The work goes undone. Night is coming. Though it hasn't come yet, so the work is not finished.
Let us be about the work of revealing God's works to the world, His works on Calvary, His works in the power of the resurrection, and His works in the power of the Spirit, His works in the lives of those who call Him Lord. We must do the work of the one who sends us, because the night is coming.
Do you hear the buzzing? Is the light flickering? Are dusk and the coming night closer than we think?