I hope last week was helpful for you in finding out where the weak spots were in your winter season last year. A difficult area for me is negative thinking and discouragement. It’s easy for me to get enveloped in the darkness.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were imprisoned for removing the demons from a girl who brought two men profit by fortune-telling. They were placed in the inner prison and fastened into stocks. That is some absolute captivity! But, what were they doing during this time? Verse 25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…”
It’s officially dark where Paul and Silas are. They don’t have an idea of when they’ll get out and they are quite uncomfortable. They had been beaten by rods prior to being locked up into stocks. However, we find them trapped in the dark communicating with God and singing His praises. What a testimony to the freedom we have in Christ! No environment should ever be allowed to steal our joy when we have been given so much through salvation in Jesus.
As the story unfolds, Luke (the author of Acts) continues the account by telling of an earthquake that shakes the prison and opens the doors. Prisoners bonds are unfastened, yet they all remain at will. The jailer is stunned by this and asks how he can be saved. Paul and Silas shared the gospel with the jailer and all his household. He and his family were baptized that night and rejoicing ensued. What an amazing set of circumstances all taking place within a night!
God can use the dark of night to reach those who are in low places. He can use you and me to bring the light to those in the darkness. Paul and Silas’ devotion to God was carried down into the depths of a prison. It was there they sang hymns to God and we see Luke make note that the prisoners listened. This life is not always about our earthly freedom. For a night, Paul and Silas gave up their freedom so that other people’s souls could be freed from condemnation. Paul and Silas’ actions in the darkness impacted the eternal state of those around them.
Being a light in darkness is a crucial part of Christianity. We are different than those who don’t have Jesus because we have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us, a promise of a new life in the future, and hope of Jesus’ imminent return. Let’s interact with God about the upcoming darkness of daylight savings coming to an end. Let’s strategize on how we can bring light into the long nights.
Below are some strategies to help you change things up this year:
1. Shift Your Schedule – Take a look at what you do at night versus in the morning. Can anything be shifted to the evening? I used to have my quiet time at 6:00 in the morning, but it’s been a struggle for me to wake up lately because it’s so dark. So, I switched my quiet time from 6:00am to 10:00pm. It’s been a fun change and has actually given me more time to read my Bible, pray, and process life.
2. Get Accountability – Don’t walk through this season alone! Find someone you can talk to regularly to help prevent negativity or depression. Let this season be an opportunity to deepen some friendships.
3. Treat Every Day Like A Vacation – Fun doesn’t have to be reserved for just the weekends! If you’re going to be at home and the time seems to drag because of early evenings, make use of that extended time. Make fun drinks on the weekdays, diffuse something, watch a fun movie, cook something colorful, read a page turner, do some hobby you’ve been meaning to do for awhile, create a tradition with some friends; anything that gets you feeling like each day is a “treat yourself” kind of day.
4. Let Yourself Sleep Longer – Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to sleep longer. If your schedule allows and you can shift some things around, give yourself a little more rest this season. Like I wrote in the first strategy, put some of your morning routine into your evening. I used to wake up at 6:00am, but now I wake up at 7:00am. I don’t have as much time in the mornings anymore, but I wake up feeling refreshed and know that I’ll have plenty of time to relax in the evening. It’s been a fun change for this season.
5. Do More Outside When You Can – Take advantage of the daylight hours. If you’re able to eat lunch outside, do it! Take a walk around the office building, run an errand; do whatever you can to soak in some sunlight during the workday.
6. Find Beauty In The Darkness – There’s a lot to be said for appreciating the mysteries of the night. If you live in the city, you might not see a whole lot of stars, but you’ll definitely be getting more of the night sky. Learn about constellations, listen to the night sounds, sit outside with your family around an outdoor fire… there’s a lot of spirituality to experience when an evening mood is embraced.
7. Do All You Can In The Morning – If you can catch a little bit of daylight before your morning commute, take in the beauty. Drink your coffee outside or take a long glance at the sunrise. Find out what starts your day off in a cheery disposition.
8. Softer Light At Night – Shorter days come at the start of holiday season. This is a time of traditions and family. Make shorter days special. Light candles around the house and enjoy a cozy atmosphere.
9. Get A Sunrise Simulator – For those who have to wake up before the sun, a sunrise simulator could be what you need to get up naturally. There are many variations, but click on this link to see one option on Amazon.
10. Improve Your Environment – Clean out that hall closet, redecorate the room; make your living space more aesthetically pleasing and fresh. Change rejuvenates the spirit and stimulates the senses. Coming home to a new environment or knowing you have a creative project at home can make this season have fun challenges. These kinds of projects can steer you away from the temptation to be bored or depressed at home.
There are many possibilities out there for enjoying this season of rest instead of merely getting through it. Enjoy your week! We’re almost to the end of daylight savings and the beginning of our Season of Rest.
If you have any strategies that would help, please comment below!