A while ago, my car was a total nightmare for about 8 weeks. For some bizarre reason half the dash board lights have stubbornly remained ON after I have turned the engine off, locked the car and walked away – illuminating the inside of the car with a pulsing glow. This is a BIG problem! No garage has been able to sort the problem, leaving it like this just drains the battery. I had an isolator switch fitted next to the battery to sort this out (every time I drive the car I have to turn this on, ever time I leave the car, it’s an extra thing to remember to turn off).
Then, one day, inexplicably – I turned the engine off and ALL the dash board lights went out. Plunged into darkness – it felt like a minor miracle!
I got to thinking, it’s not always BAD when the lights go out! This is true in our spiritual lives too – here are three reasons it’s good to be in the dark!
#1. Look Up. I used to live surrounded by light pollution, it was ‘night’ outside – but still ridiculously bright when I lived in London. Street lights, signs, buildings lit up like it was Christmas (only 24/7 and all year round). Now, I live in the country and I am plunged into darkness just beyond my front door! So – I spend more time looking up! When I was in London it was hard to see the night sky – now, on a clear night in the country it is breathtaking to look up and see such brightness, see so clearly an incredible array above me! When it is dark around us, it should always be a reminder to look up, the creator who put the stars there also put us (you and me) here, we are set in our place – His hand is on us. An amazing night sky reminds me of this, however dark it seems.
#2. Shiny Shiny! Sometimes, we need to WALK AWAY from bright and dazzling lights. Magpies are attracted to shiny things. Sometimes as followers of Jesus we are too. We can find ourselves more interested in what another follower of Jesus is doing or saying or writing than Jesus himself! We are attracted to a BIG speaker or a MEGA leader, we might be attracted to an AMAZING opportunity that is a bit like someone dangling a bauble in front of us ‘look at the shiny shiny!’ and we are mesmerised. Not every ‘golden opportunity’ is a God opportunity – often we might be called to live out our lives for God out of the limelight, away from the flashing bulbs and in the darkness of obscurity. Shiny, shiny is not always good for us, it can even sometimes lead us away from the true light – ignore the ‘shiny, shiny’ it is not the ‘light of life’ (see Psalm 56:13)
#3. Walk by Faith. Another advantage of the dark is that we have to rely on our other senses, in fact when it IS dark these senses often feel heightened anyway. Especially our hearing. I am amazed what I can suddenly hear when it is dark, that I don’t notice when it is light. The challenge we have of the imagery of ‘light’ is it conveys, almost always the idea of being able to see. However, walking in the light is not just about us being able to see – it is also about being seen. Who has his gaze constantly fixed on us? Who keeps us from stumbling?
He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber
If we simply walked in ‘the light’ (and it meant an actual light) we would not need to worry about stumbling! However, that is not all there is – in the New Testament we are reminded,
We walk by faith and not by sight
2 Corinthians 5:7
Then, as we look at those great heroes and heroines of the faith in Hebrews we are reminded again and again that though they walked ‘in the light’ they often set out with no idea where they were going . . . ! When it seems dark around us it can be a good place to use another of our senses that is heightened by the dark – listen! The evidence of our eyes, as we have seen can sometimes deceive us – we need to cultivate our listening! What is God saying, shouting, whispering to us when things seem dark. It CAN be good to find ourselves reliant on that voice when we cannot see the way.
So – look up today, ignore the shiny shiny and when it all feels dark – listen!