If we’re honest with ourselves, no one really prefers the darkness to the light. We’ve grown up in a culture that assumes that light equals good; darkness equals evil. We are quick to put on the light to banish the monsters under the bed, or to reveal that the scary-looking shadows are only that – shadows. Empty shadows, pretending to be something they are not.
But lately I’ve been thinking that sometimes we are so focused on being drawn to the light, we may be missing out on what the darkness offers. It may sound strange but perhaps there’s treasure to be found in the dark. In the words of the artist, “Sleeping At Last”, perhaps we need to “turn out the lights to remember how to see”.
Out of all the days to remember/celebrate on the “Christian” calendar, this time of year is definitely my favourite. “Easter”, or as I prefer to name it, “Resurrection weekend” is the most meaningful for me. It reminds me that earthly death no longer has a hold on anyone. In fact, because of what happened (as historically recorded) thousands of years ago, death has no sting; the grave has no victory (1 Corinthians 15:55). The One who conquered death invites us to experience eternal life, through His act of love on the cross and His act of divine power through His resurrection.
However, sometimes I think we skip past the darkness of the grave too soon. We are so ready to declare “Sunday is coming”, we miss out on the value of the time spent in the grave, the darkness.Maybe the darkness allows us to see things that are always there, but often go unnoticed? It’s true what they say about the stars: you can only see them, in all their glory (brightness), in the darkest of nights.
There’s a verse in the Psalms that has always captured my attention and questioning:
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:11-12)
“..for darkness is as light to you..” What? I had never really thought about it. God doesn’t know darkness around Him because, as I imagine it, He’s a bit like a person walking around with a headlight on His forehead .. He never sees darkness. He can’t. Because He IS light. BUT just because He doesn’t see it, it doesn’t mean He’s not there with us in it. And if I have to walk in the darkness, wouldn’t I rather do it with someone who can safely show me the way?
The point is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a light or a dark space. He’s always there. But there is purpose in darkness: a time to rest (sleep), a time to grow (consider the seed which needs the darkness of the soil in order to ignite the growth process), a time to hide and heal (in safety or comfort) before going back out into the scorching sun of reality.
More than this, God ordains and uses the darkness. Yes, all of the fulness of His glory is declared in the light, but before this, He may be forming something NEW in the darkness. And it is only in HIS time and HIS way that it will be revealed. Darkness, as we experience it, doesn’t equate to the absence of the presence of God. It could just be: He’s working IN the darkness. Or perhaps just sitting there with me in it, while I’m working through it.
So as we move into the weekend known as Easter, let’s not be too quick to race past the opening (challenging) days. Whether we are facing physical or figurative dark places in our lives, let’s not miss out on this space. Don’t despise the dark corners. Perhaps there is more value there than you realise.
Walking through a deep valley will show you and teach you things you never would have expected. Don’t rush your way through it. Even if your physical eyes may not see much, open your spiritual (soul) eyes to see what is right in front of you. And learn to walk in the dark. Do it with curiosity as you ponder this: moving forward, without being able to see exactly what it is that is in front of you, may not be the worst thing.
I love what Emily P. Freeman says about the skill to walking in the dark: “you have to go slow, you need to trust what you know and you can only take it one step at a time”.
I was so moved by this beautiful passage of writing by Barbara Brown Taylor. Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you are encouraged by it too:
“No one chooses the dark night. The dark night descends. When it does, the reality that troubles the soul most is the apparent absence of God. If God is light then God is gone. There’s no soft glowing space of safety in this dark night. There is no comforting sound coming out of it, reassuring the soul that all will be well. There is an impenetrability to this darkness that isolates the soul inside it. For good or ill, no one can do your work for you while you are in this dark place. It has your name all over it and the only way out is through.”
“New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”