November 21, 2012

The Twilight Test: A Spiritual Breakthrough Strategy

Twilight is that obscure time of day immediately following sunset, or immediately before sunrise; that little window of time between day and night.

We get our first glimpse of twilight in Genesis 1:14-16 when we read that God created two lights, “the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night” (verse 16). When these lights change shifts, either from daytime to sunset or from nightfall to sunrise, it is called twilight. The pivotal word here is shift. During twilight, light changes from one shift to the other. It can be a difficult and dangerous time, yet significant and strange things can happen during this time.

The Bible says that David smote the Philistines during twilight (1 Sam. 30:17). Job said adulterers wait for twilight to do their work (Job 24:15). However, the biblical twilight story that is uniquely instructive is the unusual account of the lepers who maximized the time of twilight during a famine in Samaria.

2012 1533 page17Second Kings 7:5 details the account of how the lepers left the gate of Samaria at twilight and went to the enemy camp of the Syrians. They providentially discovered that the Syrians were simultaneously fleeing their camp at twilight because they thought they heard the noise of a great army (verse 6). In their haste the Syrians left all their foodstuffs, equipment, and treasures behind. The lepers, and later the Israelites, plundered the deserted Syrian campsite.

Time of Opportunity
How did it happen? The lepers listened to the impression of God, used common sense, acted expeditiously, and found the time of twilight to be loaded with undreamed-of returns. Twilight in our lives can be a time of indecision and doubt, or a time of potential and breakthrough. Twilight is that ubiquitous time of potential and obedience, when we stand between our challenges and our breakthroughs. It can involve our health, careers, finances, families, or spiritual experiences. It is a time we are faced with decisions that may be difficult, uncertain, or risky.

In Hebrew the word “twilight” is neshef. One of its meanings involves movement toward the light. That’s what the lepers did—they moved toward the light they had, limited though it was. Faced with a deadly challenge, the lepers reasoned they would die if they stayed where they were or if they went back. So they exercised commendable initiative and courageously moved toward the place of promise (light). It resulted in their miraculous deliverance, and that of the entire nation of Israel.

Here’s timely counsel from Ellen White: “If anything is accomplished . . . it must be done at the golden moment. The slightest inclination of the weight in the balance should be seen, and should determine the matter at once. Long delays tire the angels. It is even more excusable to make a wrong decision sometimes. . . . More perplexity and wretchedness result from thus hesitating and doubting than from sometimes moving too hastily” (Gospel Workers, p. 134).

Maximizing Twilight Times
How should we handle the twilight in our lives? First, seek to be in the center of God’s will through reading His Word, prayer, and good counsel. Second, reason, then settle on the best possible course of action. Third, exercise initiative and promptly move forward. Let’s not let doubt and insecurity hold us back. Remember, a righteous person will fall down seven times and rise again (Prov. 24:16). Finally, it is incumbent that we share with others that which has blessed us. The four lepers rose to go toward the light; then they rose yet again to share that light with others.

Ellen White wrote, “True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God’s providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. . . . God gives opportunities; success depends on the use made of them” (Prophets and Kings, p. 486).

With initiative, courage, and providence we can transform our twilights into times of breakthrough.

Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published November 22, 2012.