The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. ~Proverbs 4:18-19~
Scared of the Dark
Have you ever noticed how loud things sound in the dark? Or how your mind can go to crazy places when you’re in the dark?
I’ve always been a little afraid of the dark. I can still vividly remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking someone was peeking around my bedroom door just starring at me. A rational mind would have tried to turn on a light pretty quickly or at least yelled for Mom and Dad.
No, I sat there petrified. Didn’t move. Scared to death!
I cannot remember HOW I finally figured it out, maybe my eyes finally adjusted, but Mom had left her vacuum cleaner in the hall with a rag draped over the handle. My “stranger” in the dark was actually a vacuum!
Needless to say, I was relieved and had a good laugh at myself.
But what this, and a ton of other things that happened this week, reminded me of how when we’re “in the dark” we cannot see or think clearly.
Several times in the past week I’ve either heard or seen something having to do with light and dark. I heard the opening scripture for this post on a Montgomery Christian radio show and their segment called the Marshall Minute. Brother Marshall shares a funny, yet insightful story with the listeners and always ties it back to a Biblical principle. His story that day was about a young girl disgruntled about where she was working and she wanted to quit. An older, wiser man asked her a rather odd question, “where do people usually put lights?”
At first, she didn’t understand why he was asking her such a random question. She shrugged it off and tried to redirect the conversation back to her dilemma.
He again asked her, “Where do people usually put a light?”
She begrudgingly said, “In dark places!”
Ding! Ding! Ding!
She got it correct! His point was, she could quit, or she could be the light in that dark place.
Upper Room Devotional
Another “lightbulb moment” for me came while reading an entry in my Upper Room devotional. (If you’ve never read them, they’re a great, quick read with a powerful message. Here’s a link. I keep mine in my car, so I can have some devo time at a red light. Helps the day go smoother!)
The gentleman writing that day’s devo talked about because we know the entire Easter story, we can rejoice knowing a day of celebration and resurrection is coming. Jesus’ disciples did not have that. They experienced a time of darkness before they were able to see the light.
Our Places of Darkness
Many of us have experienced darkness.
It may be with the loss of a love one. It might be the ending of something we dearly love. It could be sickness, of ourselves or someone close to us. It may be just a feeling of not feeling useful, beautiful, loved, etc.
The list is endless and that’s just what the enemy is banking on!
If he can get us in a dark place, and keep us there, then he thinks he’s won.
I know from my own times of darkness, sometimes it can be a loooong time (my bouts of depression have been severe for a year or long, and are still an ongoing battle) and then sometimes it’s rather short (like not getting a job I wanted or being disappointed in someone). But however long the time, it’s essential to GO THROUGH the darkness so we can APPRECIATE THE LIGHT!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. ~James 1:2~
Getting the Lights Back On
I titled this post When the Lights (finally) Come On! because it often feels like we will never see light again when we’re in our darkest days. So, how do we flip the switch to see the light again? Well, since my hubby and I are in the beginning stages of remodeling a house, I thought I would use an electrical analogy to demonstrate (Although it will be a very rudimentary one due to my lack of electricity knowledge!).
Think back to a time when you were “in the dark” or maybe you’re there now. Not a good place, is it?
For this analogy, we’re going to assume we have blown a breaker in our house. This means somewhere in the house, electricity has been stopped, a light has gone out, and so we’re sitting in the dark. There is a control panel somewhere in our house where all the electrical wires and breaker switches are located. This is command central for controlling electricity in our homes.
Although this may not “flip the switch” right away, it is certainly the place to start. When we know we’re in a dark place, prayer is sometimes the first thing we go to, and sometimes it’s the last.
You’ve stumbled around your house and finally located the electrical panel, so you flip the breaker you believe to be the one where your light has gone off. Nothing happens. Okay, time to check a wire or two. First turn off ALL electricity to your house! (That means flip the “main”, big breaker.)
2-Seek Counsel of Other Believers
Keeping ourselves isolated in dark places can heighten our awareness of some unnecessary things, while subduing others. We can be keenly aware of how dark we feel, yet clueless as to how it’s affecting us and those around us. Sometimes just talking to another believer, maybe someone who’s been where we are, can help tremendously. Or, maybe we’re not ready to air all the details of our darkness just yet. Asking someone to pray with us or for us is another way to surround ourselves with Godly counsel.
So, you’ve flipped your breaker and nothing happened. It may be time to call in an electrician (i.e. Godly counsel or seek a professional counselor) or if you’re brave enough to check the wiring yourself, you might open an electrical outlet and see what’s happening. This is easy enough to find. There are outlets surrounding you in every room (i.e. There is always a friend or counselor available to talk…you just have to ask). Find the ONE that has caused everything to go dark.
3-Thank God for Our Circumstances
What? Thank Him? Why would we want to do that?
Well, fact is, we usually don’t WANT TO, but we NEED TO. Thanking Him while we are in the dark means we’re trusting Him to see us through and He’s probably teaching us something along the way.
Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18~
You’ve found the outlet, taken the cover off, and realize an old wire some how became unconnected to the box (I know, this is a REALLY simplified version of a wiring problem! Just hang on!). You test the wire with a voltage tester to make sure it’s not “hot” (i.e. no electricity is running through it) and with a twist or two of the wire, you’re reconnected. You’re thankful that there were no major wiring issues, you learned a bit about how to check for issues with your electricity, so you head back to the electrical panel.
4-Pray Again and Do Something for Someone Else Until the Lights Come On
Praying continually will sometimes lead to a breakthrough. Praying once usually doesn’t bring clarity or an answer, but through persistent prayer, God will show us something new and different. It may be in a passage of scripture that we’ve read a thousand times. We will hear something insightful in a song we’ve heard a million times. Someone will say something to us that is THE answer to our problem. A light has come on!
Pray continually. ~1 Thessalonians 5:17~
Our persistence in prayer (pursuing Him) will evidently lead to the lights coming on. We often wonder why we didn’t see it before. We couldn’t. We were in the dark!
Doing things for others is another great way to see things from God’s perspective. Once we get out of our dark place and can be a light for others, our darkness seems a little lighter. We see others in darker places than our own and realize we CAN be thankful for something.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~Hebrews 13:16~
You’re back at the electrical box and you flip the main breaker, hopefully restoring power to the house. Maybe not. So, you have to flip a few single breakers to kick start certain outlets, including the one where you were in the dark. You find the light switch and voila, the lights are back on! You can see more clearly than before!
I am no electrician (Obviously, right?), but I do understand that sometimes systems fail, things wear out, and sometimes they just break. Our lives are like that too. People will fail us. We will fail ourselves and others. We grow weary and just get tired of trying to make things better. And many times we are broken beyond, what we think is possible, to repair.
Ironically, my pastor, Chris Hodges, said it in a very simplified, but spot-on way this morning, “Brokenness precedes breakthrough”.
The good news is God never thinks of us in that way….NEVER! He always sees us as redeemable. He may let us stay in the dark for a little while, but He will eventually pull us out into the light, IF we are listening and paying attention.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4~
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we have GET to go through stuff in order to be a light to others and to appreciate the light when we see it.
It’s never as easy as a 1-2-3 plan. We have to do our part in pursuing God every day and trusting that His plan is WAY better than ours. We may have to stumble around in the dark for awhile, but that stumbling is building us into stronger, more vibrant lights for this world.
So, how do you deal with being in the dark? I would love to hear your stories of struggle and how God opened your eyes to again see the light. Please share in the comments below.