To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit
If I was to list for you my fears it would be quite an impressive list. Maybe impressive isn't the right word; depressing, shocking, or embarrassing might better suit the ongoing run of people, places, things, and possible experiences that have in the past and still at times in the present, not to mention unknown ones of the future that shake my faith and shift my eyes to things not given from God (2 Timothy 1:7).
Very high on that list since childhood and beyond lies one that is an inevitable part of everyday, darkness. Each day it comes like clockwork, when the light of the day is ending, intended to give us the rest and refreshment of sleep, the ability to recoup before the light of the next day appears and we are up and ready to go forth once again in a new day.
While there are some that seem unaffected by the feeling of shadows that creep in as the light of the day is lost, many others can automatically begin to feel anxious, nervous about the discomfort of darkness, the time of day when the objects around you are not clearly seen and the unknowns of what is happening monumentally outweigh the known that comes through clear sight bathed in light . Studies have been done that suggest that the "witching hour" all parents are way too familiar with is caused by the ingrain knowledge the the sun is setting and darkness is coming.
But whether it's a fear of ours or not, it happens on a daily basis and that darkness doesn't just provide the reminder to rest, it also provides a daily reminder of how it feels to be without light.
The thing with darkness, is that it isn't just the time of day that comes after the beautiful sky a sunset brings, it's every part of the day, every part of a life, where the Light of Christ does not reign.
As a believer I know the Truth that I am not alone. I know the Truth that If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alive to You." (Psalm 139:11-12). The problem comes when I believe the fears, believe the lies thrown in the darkness, whether the literal or figurative, and don't wait for the Truth to float up.
But also as a believer, it's not enough to just know there is light in the darkness, but to go into the darkness carrying the Light you've been given. Through a trip to Romania God rocked my heart with a tangible to go with Matthew 5:14-16...
I like to live in a bubble of happiness and block out the evil and scariness of the world, but when you come down to it that is just naivety, ignorance, and selfishness. There is evil in this world. Satan is real and has a real mission. I always say I want to be a light in the darkness but I can't be a light in the darkness if I'm not in the dark!
Life is full of God given opportunities to open the doors to dark tunnels and step down into the depths carrying with you the only Light you need.
Those opportunities come in overwhelming variety. For some it's walking through cancer, of their own or a loved one, and instead of succumbing to the dark dread, not only trusting God through it all but pouring His love on the ones who are beside you on the same road. For others it's investing time in the lives of high schoolers in what on the surface appears to be a time of loud with crazy music and games on the side but at the heart is Jesus streaming from one onto another in the midst of the rocky roads of pre-adulthood.
There is not enough time or page space to describe the infinite doors that can be opened to search in darkness. One only has to step out of the safety of their front door, into the world around them to find an opportunity. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a hurt. If you are sitting desperate to find a place to help, a way to shine, just pray. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22) Simply not entering into the negative conversations, but instead bringing a full heart driven by love into your workplace is a noticed shining and a less scary way for some to begin.
Just remember it is all done with help, all done through Christ, all done with His Light in you and not your own. "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." ~Corrie Ten Boom
For us, there is a new dark tunnel emerging through a door that is just beginning to be opened. A door many others have already begun the trek into and others that are barely peeking through along with us. The dark tunnel into foster care is quite new, as in we are only preparing to even be allowed to walk through, but already we see it will be going deeper than we could have ever comprehended and will reach a depth that our finite minds might never be able to truly comprehend. But in it, just as in all the others, is the promise of Hope. The promise that the battle has already been won and that we are just blessed to be allowed on the journey to be used to show that victory to others.
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien
That greatness can only grow when love is shown, when Light is spread, when the sadness mixes with the joy. I truly hope you see the Light you've been given in your own darkness, I hope you know the door God is calling you to open, I hope you see how He is walking in front of you, beside you and behind you into the depths. I hope you follow carrying Light and Hope with you. I hope these things for you because I first desperately hope for them for myself. None of us are alone in it.
Pray for me, I'll be praying for you.