As summer approaches, I’ve been able to enjoy one of the many benefits of a longer day. As the sky in the east just barely starts to turn pink, I awake well before the rest of the house and go outside for a run. It is quiet, it is peaceful; the air is cool and clean, and the roads are empty. The morning sky provides a stunning view. Good for my body and soul!
But I do not like these early morning runs outside during the winter. It is dark outside! I’m afraid! What if someone dangerous is hiding in the shadows? What if some rabid wild animal jumps from the bushes and attacks me? What if a tired driver doesn’t see me in the darkness? Even now, when I first step outside the sky still holds darkness and my initial reaction is to pause and fearfully take in my surroundings – more than just caution. But soon, as my eyes adjust and the sun continues to peek up over the horizon, the world around me is illuminated and the fear is removed.
Anytime we try to send one of our kids to the basement in our house, their little faces fill with fear and we go through the same argument: “I don’t want to. Can you come with me? It is dark down there!” I say there is nothing to be afraid of in that basement! Just go – you’ll be fine!
Fear arises from darkness. But I don’t think the darkness creates fear. Darkness holds uncertainty, the unknown and highlights our lack of control. It is these things which we fear!
Too often I hold unnecessary fear. This becomes a weight which can easily take over my life. (I’ve written about this often… Most recently: God is bigger than our fear.) I am overly fearful of looming severe spring storms. I become irrationally afraid when driving; white-knuckle grips on the steering wheel and unreasonable space between myself and other vehicles. (The irony is this reaction actually makes the drive more dangerous…)
With both storms and the highway, there is uncertainty and the ability to only partially control our reality. Then the experience passes, and we can be thankful when the storm moves by or when we safely arrive at our destination.
Life is like this. Our future is unknown, and as much as we try, we cannot fully control it. And unlike storms and highways and my dark basement, we actually know that something terrible really does sit somewhere in the darkness that is our future. This uncertainty can create stifling fear. When our fear prohibits us from taking that next step forward, then we lose.
The Bible is filled with this contrast of light and darkness. Darkness is evil, darkness is a void. And only through trust in a God who loves us do we find Light. Go look up “darkness” in your Bible’s index, and just read. Scripture acknowledges darkness, but points to the true light:
For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalm 18:28
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Much like my morning runs, we maneuver through life. Our reliance on God’s presence along this run brings light to an unknown path. If we trust that God is near, the world will become a little more clear with each step forward. Fear is replaced by thankfulness and a sense of pure peace when we realize that the uncertainty that lies in the darkness will not overcome. The Light has won; there is nothing to fear!