Last week I told you about how my morning walks happen during the dark hours of the early morning. I would like us to think some more about darkness and what walking in darkness can mean for our lives.
Darkness is a metaphor used for a great many circumstances in our lives and the lives of others. As I said last week, darkness has been associated with a great many situations and things which have a negative connotation. Darkness equals bad stuff. That pretty much sums it up for a great many folks.
I can remember when I was a teenager, my mother had a curfew for me to be home when I would go out with friends. The curfew was fixed at midnight. I would complain that it was too early to come home. Of course now I can’t wait to get in the bed, and it usually happens before 10:00! As a teenager though, my biological clock had me wanting to stay up all night and sleep all day. Somehow that was just never quite okay with my parents.
My mother would always say bad stuff happens at night. I would argue the same stuff can happen in the daytime as it does in the night. You can be sure I never won that arguement. As I reflect back now, I can understand my parent’s reticence to having me out roaming the streets at all hours of the night. It was dangerous. We hear reports of people being car-jacked, robbed, and even killed under the cover of darkness. It can be a very dangerous time to be out and about.
Darkness has also been associated with evil. The dark side of someone is understood to be their evil persona, or the part of them that is antithetical to their good, wholesome, loving, sane self. When we speak about “walking on the dark side,” we are generally referring to doing things that wouldn’t be considered right, or good, or appropriate.
Even in astronomy, we hear about dark matter and black holes. These are things we don’t understand, and they are fearsome to us. Dark matter doesn’t reflect light or produce it. Black holes gobble up planets, stars, solar systems, and no light ever escapes from them.
When we speak about the dark times of a person’s life, we understand those to be the times a person acted irrationally, without purpose, without guidance, without a mooring.
Dark times, dark places, dark circumstances, they all frighten us and repel us. We want to be where there is plenty of light, where we can see what is all around us and are able to feel safe and secure. The problem is, we don’t always get to pick and choose where we find ourselves. Sometimes we are able to spend a good bit of time in the light. Other times, darkness seems to consume us.
I have a friend who has suffered a severe medical issue in their life. It is life-changing and life-altering. For a person who has been active, physically fit, eats the right diet, has been full of energy, this is a frightening time for him. Its a dark time. Its a time of uncertainty and unfamiliarity.
How does one navigate the dark times of our lives? When we resist walking in the dark, the dark is very unfamiliar to us. I walk around my condo without turning on a single light. I can do this because I’m extremely familiar with where all the furniture is placed, where clear pathways are, where the things are I could stumble over. The darkness doesn’t have any power over me in my place, because I have walked in it enough to be comfortable. Dark or light, I know I’m safe and secure.
If we allow ourselves to walk in the dark circumstances of our lives, we become familiar with knowing God is present in the darkness, just as surely as God is present in the light. God walks with us in our darkness.
Maybe instead of resisting walking in darkness, we should embrace it. What we learn in darkness can encourage us, uplift us, and grow us.
In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of the world walks with us in our darkness. In the song, Here I Am to Worship, we sing, “Light of the world you stepped down into darkness. Opened my eyes, let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore you. Hope of a life spent with you.” Jesus steps into every dark place with us, for us. You and I have an internal and eternal light in us because Jesus lives in us. Darkness cannot overcome us, it cannot conquer us, it is nothing to be feared. You and I bring the light of Jesus wherever we go.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Your light, my light comes from the One who stepped down into darkness for us. We should no longer fear the dark, it just one aspect of the life we live. We walk into it and through it, knowing we ourselves are dispelling it as we go.
I want to conclude with a quote I used in the sermon this past Sunday. Soren Kierkegard says, “Faith sees best in the dark.” I believe this to be very true. When we begin to walk in the dark, we do so by and through faith. We know God is with us, and believing this ignites the light in us that will light our path.
May the dark times you and face never again have power over us. God is with us, we can walk with sure and certain steps because the light of the world steps into our darkness with us.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,