For a couple of years our family lived in downtown Los Angeles.
Echo Park to be exact. Jan and I directed part of a missions agency that sent ministry teams around the world. Two times a day Jan would drive our two kids to and from school in Pasadena.  We had to rise early to start the ritual of aligning our lives with
the tempo and temper of LA traffic.

I got up early each day to get in my daily exercise. I
would walk from our apartment out into the lingering night and enter the heart
of the city. LA nights are filled with the distant sounds of car alarms,
garbage trucks, barking dogs and lonesome sirens. It is hard to describe all
that I saw and felt on those early morning walks. I got to know a homeless man
whose “home” was his shopping cart. One morning a young man pulled up his shirt
to show me his pistol as a threat to move out of his way. Another morning had
me step off the sidewalk and into the limbs of a nearby bush to get out of the
illuminating rays of a street light so an angry, mentally challenged man
wielding a steel pipe, could pass by and not see me. I watched him disappear
into the night striking everything in his path with violent swings from his
improvised weapon. I saw many things that came out at night and walked with
boldness on the streets of the city.

I was continually drawn with fascination to these predawn
walks. They became a real-time motion picture revealing in graphic imagery how
I was to pray for the city. I got to see the guts and grit of a slumbering culture. I knew these things went on in broad daylight, but seeing them singularly
played out on a dark city street stage was like watching a solo performance in
a sorrowful play. I was able to clearly see the broken people hidden within the
folds of the city with greater clarity and without the hurried activities of
the bright day where the hustle and bustle of LA life could easily mask their

Because of a fear of what goes on in the darkness some
people have chosen to lock themselves away in their spiritual apartment
watching theological exercise videos in a place of isolation. If we are going
to be part of God’s transforming presence in a culture still wrapped in the effects
of darkness we need to walk out into the night and declare the love of God. The
streets of darkness are where a prophet walks. In this place we become mobile
watchmen. This is where we will discover how to pray for the real needs of our
cities and declare its new day without those needs being reinterpreted by
political agendas, intellectually scrubbed news feeds or the unresolved personal
fears that will eventually lock us away and limit our ability to declare a new hope
for a new day. Get out. Walk around in the darkness. Greater is He that is in
you than any fearful thing that goes bump in the night.

1 Comment

  1. Arie

    Good encouraging post. As said in another post I drive a public transport bus at night and at times am touched by how many people absolutely soak up just a word of encouragement or am act of kindness. It might be something little to me but it seems to lift them and give renewed hope. A post like this just undoes me cause I can identify with it. Thank you! (keeps me going when I am feeling tired from the late shifts).


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