I love the sun, in fact, I think I may be solar powered! I am that person that if I have to be inside I’m in the stream of sunlight and I’ll sit on the most uncomfortable seat in the room, on the floor or contort myself into any manner of unusual positions just to sit in its stream and absorb it. The feel of sun on your skin is absolute heaven and happiness bursting like fireworks as you feel the warmth radiate into your body. Catching sunlight causes rest in my soul and joy in my spirit. It refreshes and invigorates and inspires me to lay on the grass or sand jellyfish-style to maximise my absorbency area and no – at times like these the child within wins and the very appropriate adult has to just wait. I love warmth and I love light… I love the sun!
‘Let there be light,’ was God’s first creative command to this planet we call home and one of His finest moves. The Apostle John tells us that God is light and Jesus revealed himself as the ‘Light of the world’. Light in all its gloriousness is remarkable and so I find it quite fitting that the light so often in the Bible represents God, the gospel and the lives of believers. I also love that light can shine into darkness to penetrate and transform it. It’s an illustration of the power of God and the power at the disposal of every believer.
We quickly learn that light is good and darkness bad; the movies depict the ‘baddies’ in black and the ‘goodies’ in white or light colours. Our governments install street lighting to prevent bad things happening in the dark and proved that the installation of lights reduced crime and there’s a whole market in nightlights for children that suggest darkness really is bad… but is it??
We all have our ‘dark’ days and by this we generally mean bad days. Sad days. Depressed days. The metaphor plays out repeatedly in so many spheres of life that light is good and darkness bad. Darkness however is not all bad. We like the clean distinctions and neat categories of good and bad, but darkness is surprisingly not always bad. In fact, God himself is associated with darkness at least a couple of times in the Bible.
In Genesis 15 as Abram’s receiving the promise of God that he will indeed have a son from his own body and will receive the land he had been sent to as an inheritance and promise for the innumerable descendants that would come from him, he makes an offering to the Lord and then ‘a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.’ In that thick and dreadful darkness God spoke in detail of the promised future. In that place of darkness God made a covenant that created a new nation, a chosen people and a father.
In Exodus 20, when God spoke from Mount Sinai it says, ‘Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.’ The mountain had thunder rolling, lightning flashing and was covered in smoke. The people, perhaps trained as we are to be lovers of light, were afraid and so stepped back. God planned to speak to them all and they would hear his voice themselves and yet they chose – because of darkness – for Moses to go talk to God and then come back and talk to them. They preferred to have Moses be their mediator than to speak directly. I find this so sad! I wonder how our history would be different if an unwillingness to step into darkness didn’t cause a nation to miss an opportunity to hear God himself speak audibly with them.
Here are two covenants that were made in ‘thick darkness’. Promises that could not have been made, let alone kept if there wasn’t someone willing to step into darkness to receive them. God exists in darkness. God exists in light. The presence of God works powerfully in all lighting conditions!
Today I want to encourage you that all darkness is not bad. The darkness you may be experiencing does not mean an absence of God, but could be the place of His presence and His promise. God is in both and works through both. He existed in the darkness before He said, ‘let there be light’ and as I’m sure you’ve noticed he kept times of darkness and light within each day.
Being in a place of felt darkness does not mean something is wrong with you. Hard times are not signs nor symbols that God has abandoned you. Don’t clamour or rush panicked for the light. Don’t let fear whisper lies. Sometimes in darkness the greatest miracles are birthed, the greatest revelation is received and desperate unfulfilled longings are found. The darkness can hold the very promise you’ve been seeking. We don’t all get the promise in a rainbow of light like Noah! Some of us find it like Abram and Moses in the ‘thick darkness’.
I love the light. I will always be a sun-seeker and a sun dweller. I have also learnt though not to despise the darkness. It can do a work far greater than the warmth of sunshine on your shoulders. So, sit in the hand of God and don’t judge your season by the light you feel on your face or the darkness in your heart. God is present, powerful and has promise in both.