One night in Managua, Nicaragua, it was my honor to stay in the home of a very generous family in an extremely impoverished part of the city. The meal my host served of black beans and warm tortillas probably cost her more than I can imagine. I was not worthy of such generosity, but this woman and her family were hosting a few of us who were doing some work in their city.
After a long day, it was time to catch some sleep before an early flight home. As it turns out, I was sharing my room with a guy (who I didn’t know from Adam) that was traveling with our team. This was a mudbrick home with a makeshift tin roof overhead. A couple of cots in this fairly narrow room at the back of the house. A torn curtain to pull shut if we wanted.
We were flying out the very next day. A hurricane was coming. I really wanted to make my flight, but first…a little sleep. I set my phone and got in bed.
And then, the first sound of the evening.
My roommate in the other cot must’ve had narcolepsy because he was asleep before he sat down. And apparently this took him almost immediately into a deep, deep sleep that allowed him to snore freely and fully. It was impressive, that sound.
I was in for a long night.
I pulled the string on the bare bulb hanging in our room, laid down and started trying to ignore this bear of a guy who now sounded like a barrel full of chainsaws. But wait, what was that—another sound?
Clicking and whirring. Weird. It was not coming from him. It seemed to be coming from the wall right next to my cot. So I turned on my phone and illuminated the wall to get a better understanding of this, now, second sound of the evening.
That was not a good idea. Not at all.
The wall had come to life with insects of every variety you can imagine. Crawling in and out of the holes in the mud bricks. Do you remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? It was that. Only right next to me. There I was—Texas Chainsaw on my right and a nightmarish wall to my left.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Insomnia Symphony #1.
I didn’t have any ear plugs. I dug in my backpack for paper from my journal to stick in my ears for lots of reasons—to muffle the sound. To keep things from crawling in. And then I started praying. Not even for sleep. I was praying for the dawn.
And, later that night, the third sound of the evening. Something scrounging around my bed and then running down the hall—heavier, faster. And waaay more curious. I prayed: please Lord, don’t let that be a three-pound insect in my room.
But it wasn’t. When I turned on my light, I found this third curious noise was just a couple of roosters running through the hallway.
This was a pretty big relief for lots of reasons, but one of them was the sheer fact that these guys were up and moving around. Sure it was still dark and at first glance, it looked like the night was in full swing. And yes, the other sounds in my room were still going strong.
But just the sound of roosters moving around stirred a relief in my tired and slightly freaked-out heart. And sure enough, it was not long before I heard the fourth sound. Those roosters very loudly squawked and crowed, and my friend on the other cot grumbled something about it being so early. But that was just fine by me. Why?
Because they were announcing the dawn. It was inevitable, really. The dawn would now take over the night. The long, creepy, restless night. And I, for one, rejoiced.
Listen carefully, you resurrection people: the Bible tells us a new day has begun and the darkness of night has already lost the battle. The hurts and pains and injustice of this world will be dealt with. Am I saying that death and tragedy and injustice won’t still touch us? No. Of course not. Should we ever stop following Jesus into the hurts and struggles of this world? Not if we read the New Testament. We have been called to live our lives differently right here, right now in the light of Jesus’ glorious victory.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
The Bible tells us we still live on the edge of morning, but God has broken through. This darkness that is in the world will not last. It is here. It lingers. But it will not last. Just like the night retreats from the dawn, light will break through. It’s already happening.
Listen carefully, there are roosters running down the hallway.