When I played basketball in high school we used to do this drill called continuous action. It was a three on three full court drill in which after you had completed offense, you ran off the court, and three more of your team would run in to play defense against the other team. And so you popped in and out of the drill with the action never stopping. You had to get in and down the court fast, before the three formerly defenders, now on offense, beat you down the court and your coach yelled at you, or worse, punished you with lines.
I was reminded of this drill the other day when I read Isaiah 60:1-2:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”
Consider the action in these verses. Your light has come – this verb is in the perfect tense, meaning the coming of the light is sure and has happened. The other verbs – the darkness covers, the Lord rises, his glory appears – are imperfect tense, offering a sense of incompleteness, continuous action, or being in process. The Lord is rising upon us and his glory is appearing, even though the darkness is covering the earth.
God is acting continually in the midst of suffering and evil.
What a great assurance for us to rest upon. His rising upon us continues, the appearing of his glory continues, even when our strength fails, our physical bodies collapse in exhaustion, our hearts melt with fear. We stop our action for many reasons. We get bored. We need to eat food. We’d rather do something else.
God’s light, Jesus Christ, has come. Therefore, the rising, the appearing has been put into motion and goes on without ceasing. The ripples of his light do not fade in spite of the darkness that – for now – covers the earth.
Rest in the sureness of his action. He does not grow tired or weary. His understanding has no limits. And he gives us the gift of that continuous action, the gift of moving with him: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).