Have you ever been in absolute darkness? We once did a cave tour where the guide turned off all the lights for just a minute so we could experience what it was like for gold miners when their lamps were extinguished. I hated every second of that darkness.
On a recent camping trip, we took an ATV out into the middle of a canyon in eastern Utah. And when I say the middle of nowhere, I mean nowhere. The sky was cloudy and threatening rain, so when we went to sleep, it was dark with no stars to illuminate the our campsite.
In the middle of the night, I woke up in a panic. All I could see was deep darkness. I felt closed in. Trapped. I threw my sleeping bag to the side and jumped up to open the zippered door. I stood for a while outside the tent to breath in the cool night air. I shined my flashlight all around so I could see something. Anything.
Back inside the tent, I left my flashlight on for the rest of the night so I could see the shape of the tent and know where I was.
Light and Darkness
The darkness can be frightening. Without a light source, we can’t navigate or see where we are going. We stumble and fall as we trip over the things we can’t see. In many ways, the darkness reveals our vulnerabilities.
That’s just with physical darkness. How much more with spiritual darkness!
Scripture often talks about darkness and contrasts it to light. At the beginning of all things, God cut into the darkness with just his words and light appeared (Genesis 1:2-3). The Bible describes our sinful state as that of darkness (Acts 26:18, Ephesians 5:8, Colossians 1:13). Those who are outside of Christ are said to love the darkness and hate the light (John 3:20). Just as he did in creation, God shines light into the darkness of our hearts and brings us into the light of life.
The Apostle John equates Christ with light, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” ( John 1: 4-5). As Christians, brought from death to life in Christ, we are children of the light and are to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:7-14). In the new heavens and new earth, there will be no more darkness. There won’t even be any need for the sun, for God himself will be our light (Revelation 22:5).
We Need the Light
To be honest, I often fear physical darkness more than I do spiritual darkness. I’m more on alert when I walk to my car late at night than I am living life in a spiritually dark world. I am quick to turn on the lights in a room so I can see, but not so quick to turn to the Word to illuminate the darkness of my heart. I am more likely to remember to bring a flashlight while walking at night than I am to remember that it is Christ and his word which lights the path of my life.
It’s even more dangerous when I grow used to the spiritual darkness around me. When I don’t even notice the deeds of darkness I watch on television or hear on the radio or read when I scroll through social media. When I blend in so much with the world that my life looks no different. Or worse, when I don’t even recognize the sin in my own heart.
Light is good and necessary. Certainly, we need it to navigate the darkness in our physical world. But we need the light even more so in our spiritual lives, for it brings us life. Praise the Lord for bringing us out of darkness and into his marvelous light! May we not take the light for granted. May we strive to put to death the deeds of darkness and live in the light. May we allow God’s word to shine a light into the deepest recesses of our heart, so that more and more of our sinful flesh is put to death through the work of the Spirit in us.
And may we look forward to the day when darkness is no more and the light of God radiates throughout the whole universe.