Weekly Devotional

In the Dark

Reflection by John Allen

Jacob left Beersheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it…. When Jacob woke from his sleep he said, “Surely God is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”


Jacob was not out searching for God in the dark. He was out there because he had disappointed and hurt most of the people who ever loved him. He was alone and weary. So he set his head on a stone and dreamed that God’s presence might still be gracing the Earth. On the run from a furious father and a betrayed brother, with no more comfortable bed than the ground, and no better pillow than a rock, Jacob met God for the first time. “Surely God is in this place and I did not know it.” How could he have?

Barbara Brown Taylor thinks that we are all “hampered by brilliance.” We spend so much time in the light that we have forgotten how to walk in the dark. Between streetlights and smartphones, our eyes have adjusted to a world of brilliant light. What is hiding in the dark?

I imagine standing at the end of my driveway, looking up the orange glow of the night sky. Then, one by one, all the lights around me begin to go out. Even my phone dies, so I cannot use the glow of the screen as a flashlight. Helpless, I look up and see, for the first time, the heavens speckled with stars, like tiny angels bearing beauty to our hurting world.

Surely, God is in this place and I did not know.

Prayer: God, show us how to walk with the dark, so that we might find our way to you.

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