Steven Furtick - God's With You In The Dark
This is an excerpt from “Kept In The Dark”
Are you following God in the night right now? What I mean is you can't really see what's two steps ahead, and you keep bumping into stuff that makes you want to cuss. You can't even hardly find the bathroom at night. You don't really know. You're just like Joseph. You're just like Mary. You're just like the magi. You're even just like Herod. There was only one in the passage who knew where this was headed, and he couldn't even walk yet. Nobody else knew. So, I tell my sons about, my daughter about, my church about nights like that. I don't want to just tell them about the God of 9:30 on Sunday morning. It has too much makeup on. Then they won't realize God when he has to show up at 4:00 a.m.
I want to pastor a church and to be a person who has 4:00 a.m. faith during the night. I want my kids to see me do great things for God and write great songs for God and preach great messages and make good decisions and love their mom and be a memory-making dad and give them all of these wonderful experiences, but I want them to know that I had some nights where I didn't know. I didn't know if the church would keep going, especially when it was a baby. I would walk out every week not knowing if anybody would be out there. I hate when God prompts me to tell you stuff that's embarrassing to me. I'd rather keep you in the dark.
I would rather roll out on the stage, "Hey, praise the Lord, everybody! God is your GPS, and he's going to reroute you! Am I right"? But the Lord said to tell you the things you doubt about, I doubt about. Do you hear me, son? I've had nights like that. I've had nights where I wished I could throw up, but I couldn't, because it wasn't physical what was making me sick. There's no sickness like night sickness. I've never had morning sickness like Holly did, but let me tell you something. He's not just the God of 9:30 Sunday morning. He led Joseph to Egypt at night. So, if you ever see me do anything great, boy, it's not because I always walked in the light; it's because I was kept in the dark. Everybody who God ever used… He didn't use them because they always had so much light, so much knowledge, so much goodness. You see all this other stuff. Everybody is posing on Instagram, and they have all of these lights that are so flattering and all of these filters, but the God of 4:00 a.m., the God who got up from the grave in the physical body of a man named Jesus…
In John 20:1 it says, "While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb". He didn't get up when the light came out. Easter didn't start with a sunrise. It started in the dark. So, if you are in the dark today and you don't know and you can't feel… "My God, why have you forsaken me? How does this end? Why does it hurt? When does it stop? When can I leave"? I need you to know he's watching you and keeping you and holding you and with you in the fourth watch of the night. Yes, there's a star that guides you. Yes, there's a light that guides you. Yes, there are blessings that attend you. Yes, there is favor you can feel, and you will experience all of those things, but sometimes he's going to tell you things in the night and lead you through things in the night, and what he does at night you will be shouting about in the day.
This is why you have to hold on. This is why you can't give up. This is why you have to get help. This is why you have to work through it. This is why you can't accept defeat. This is why Herod is searching for you, but he couldn't find you yet. He couldn't kill you yet. What he couldn't kill is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He leads me not just with a star… Y'all don't want to go yet, do you? Y'all have enough battles at home. Just stay with me for a minute. Get under this blessing for a minute. The night is coming when no man can work. Let us work the works of him who sent us. He's watching over me! Yes, he is! Because I have something in common with Mary and Joseph. I'm carrying Jesus. I have Jesus on the inside of me. Everything God spoke to Joseph that confirmed his word he did at night. In a dream, take Mary home. In a dream, go to Egypt. In a dream, go back to Nazareth. Everything God did in Joseph's life he did at night.
What is he doing on the night watch for you right now? What is he doing? I'm telling you, we're going to be shouting about it tomorrow, but right now it's night. I always feel like coming out here to preach is a little bit like a detective novel. I'm trying to find "Who are you"? Who are you that God gave me this word for that he just stirred me up until, like I told Graham, I feel like I'm about to give birth? Who are you? What are you carrying? What does Herod know about you that has him trying to track you down and kill you? Why has the attack been so strong? If you were not carrying Jesus, if you were not sent for a purpose, if there was not a prophecy over your life, you wouldn't be feeling any pain. The pain is a labor pang. You're about to bring something forth.
It made me think that this is not the only Joseph. There's another Joseph who had to go to Egypt. Do y'all know the other Joseph? Do y'all know OT Joseph, Old Testament Joseph? Put it in the chat. "I know Joseph. I know what you're talking about. You're not talking about Joseph who married Mary. You're talking about Joseph who was promised that God would raise him up to feed his whole family and save his whole nation in a time of famine". That Joseph, who saw the stars and saw the grain, but God didn't show him everything he would go through. God kept him in the dark. He didn't tell him, "Your brothers are going to betray you, the very ones you're going to have to feed". You're going through something right now, and you didn't see this coming. He didn't see himself pushed into a cistern. He didn't see himself sold into slavery. He didn't see himself rotting away in a prison while he was forgotten by the cupbearer and the baker. But do you know what Joseph told me to tell you?
"God kept me in the dark. He was with me. He kept me. He held me steady. He held me down. He held me level. He kept me sane. He preserved my mind. He walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil". He's with me! That's how I'm here. He kept me! Everybody God kept, give him praise right here! He kept me in the dark. He kept me from killing myself. He kept me from walking away. He kept me from giving up my dream. He kept me from turning my back on my faith. I'm not here because I always walked in the light. I'm here because he kept me in the dark. That's how I got here. He kept me in the dark. He didn't tell me everything. That's how he got me here. He told me, "One thing at a time". That's how he's going to speak to you. "One thing at a time". "Give us this day our daily bread". He kept me in the dark.
If God told you everything, you'd start spazzing out. We'd have to call the ambulance to your campus. I used to pray, and I still pray, "God, give me light," but this is a Christmas prayer: "God, keep me in the dark. When I doubt you, don't let me deny you". One man from the 1920s said, "Don't forget in the darkness what you learned in the light". He got up at night. Joseph went to Egypt. You're following God right now to a strange place. I know you are. He spoke to me about you. He said to tell you, "I'm keeping you in the dark". You have to turn it over. You have to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. What's he saying? He will keep you in the dark. Do you remember when God's people came out of Egypt in the Old Testament? The Bible says they had to leave, and the firstborn of all of Egypt was struck down, so committed was God to the freedom of his people.
God is committed to your freedom. God is committed to his children. He is watching over his word to perform it in your life, in this moment. At night, he neither sleeps nor slumbers. One time, I heard a fellow say, "Well, if God never sleeps nor slumbers, then I'm going to get some rest, because one of us should". Look at this. The first Joseph who went to Egypt in the Bible was Joseph who went to preserve the nation of Israel, and watch what it says in Exodus 12:40. This is the word I want to leave you with today. "Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years". Y'all, I don't care who you are. That's a long night. That's a long time to wonder "Where are you, God"? It has been 81 generations since the birth of Christ that we live in, and I think we have completely messed up the message of Christmas in those 81 generations, because we only associate God with the light. He is the light. There's no darkness in him.
However, look at what the Bible says to the people. This is thousands of years before Jesus, and watch how the prophetic word aligns, how God is watching over his word to perform it. Next verse: "At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord's divisions left Egypt. Because the Lord kept vigil that night…" That night. Do you know the one I'm talking about? The one where the anxiety was beating. The breakers were pounding. You know the one I'm talking about, where all of the memories came flooding back. You know the one I'm talking about…all of the regrets. That 4:00 a.m. devil you fought that was searching to kill you, like Herod was searching, like Pharaoh wanted to kill the Israelites, like he wanted to strike them down, but he couldn't. Watch why. "Because the Lord kept vigil that night…" This is what the Scripture says: "…to bring them out of Egypt, on this night…" Follow me. Receive this word. He said, "On this night…" "Because the Lord kept vigil that night, I want you on this night to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come".
Aren't you glad Joseph followed in the dark so we could have Jesus in our hearts and our lives? What are you carrying? What is the important thing on the other side of this night? That night, the night they left Egypt with the blood on their door so the angel of death passed over their houses… That night, God stayed up and watched. So he said, "You keep it". If you were kept in the dark, then don't you get in the dark and lose your faith. Don't you let this knock you off the solid rock you've been standing on. Don't you let this snatch your prophecy. This is bigger than you. Do you hear me? This is bigger than how you feel right now. This is for generations to come. That's why you have to make it through the night. That's why I had to make it through the night: so I could tell my 16-year-old, so he can tell his 16-year-old, "I've had nights like that, but no matter how dark the night got, God never stopped watching. God never stopped keeping. God never stopped working. God never stopped sustaining".