I was never really afraid of the dark as a kid. I had a night light, of course, but I was always way more scared of the noises outside my room. As I got older, I was more afraid of being alone, in the dark, with just my thoughts. I’d end up staying awake most of the night just thinking and writing.
While many people are afraid of the dark, I was afraid of a different kind of darkness.
The dark can manifest itself in many ways in our lives. It can be fear, anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed, sadness, or really anything that steals your joy away from you or makes you unworthy or less than.
In the Bible we see that sin is interpreted as darkness. Before God formed the world in the creation poems, Genesis tells us that “When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea.” These are the first words we read in our Bibles (if we start at the beginning).
Ephesians 5:8-14 (CEB) says this
“You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, and don’t participate in the unfruitful actions of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them. It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret. But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says, Wake up, sleeper! Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Darkness in Genesis and in Ephesians represent the times and seasons in our lives when we are without God.
In Genesis, darkness covers everything, the whole earth, until “God’s wind swept over the waters— God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And so light appeared. God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. There was evening and there was morning: the first day.” God sees how good the light is, sees how good God’s creation is shaping up to be, and so God separates the darkness and the light and calls them by name.
In Ephesians, Paul tells us that before Jesus came into the world, the Jewish people were shrouded in darkness. Now that we have Jesus, we need to live in the light of Christ; we need to do good, fight for justice, seek mercy, and stay away from the temptations that come from darkness.
Nothing good ever happens after midnight, right?
The times and seasons in my life when I need the light the most are times when I tend to hide away and solve my problems on my own. But the thing about the light is that even the smallest light shines in the darkness.
No matter where you go or how far into a hole you crawl, a single flame illuminates any space. God is that flame for us. God banishes the darkness from our lives and calls it by name. When you give darkness a name, it doesn’t seem so scary or big anymore.
You are that light for other people who are in darkness. You can bring people into the light and show them the way to joy, peace, and love.
I’m going to leave you with a verse from Isaiah 60 (CEB)
Arise! Shine! Your light has come;
the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth
and gloom the nations,
the Lord will shine upon you;
God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light
and kings to your dawning radiance.
Be the light for someone tomorrow and everyday this week. Shine in the darkest corners of your community and your lives.