Bread – Darkness

February 1, 2013


Readings for Friday, February 1, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 50:1-11; Gal. 3:15-22; Mk 6:47-56; Psalms 40,51,54

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There are many places where darkness dwells and many types of darkness which dwell there. Perhaps the place is the time of the loss of innocence, a time of sexual abuse, a time of loss of a loved one, a time of loss of a job, a time of depression, a time of loss of trust, a time of loss of love, or a time of addiction. Perhaps it appears in the form of anger, hatred, abuse of ourselves or others, depression, anxiety, worry, despair, hurt, melancholy, sadness, or fear. Wherever it is and whatever form it takes, it is fair to call that “darkness” or a “dark place” or a “dark time.” Light is missing – there is no path which is obvious, no clarity in view, no sense of belonging, no door to another place. It is dark and you cannot see. You cannot see what brought you to that place, you cannot see yourself, and you cannot see a way out. Why? Because it is dark.

When you are in the dark, there are two things, however, you can do. You can either rely on God or you can rely on yourself (the world). That is what today’s lesson from Isaiah addresses.

Isaiah 50:10b begins God’s pronouncement of these alternatives. First He says “Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” Isa. 50:10b What happens when you do this? Good things. Our Psalm 40 reading today says “He [God] drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth … Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.” Ps. 40:2-4. Some words have great images, and doesn’t the phrase “miry bog” just completely describe the place of darkness where many of us find ourselves all the time? Stuck, sinking, smelly, dark. And God brings us out into light, gives us a new song, and blesses us.

Isaiah keeps going to address the second alternative, reliance on man (the world) to bring us out of darkness into light. God says “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment.” Isa. 50:11 God through Isaiah says simply that you do have an alternative when you are in the dark – you can locate the light switch designed and built by man, flood the place with the light of man, and rely upon your science, your wisdom, your knowledge, your tools (your “fire”) to light up the place. And where does that ultimately take you? To hell (“you shall lie down in torment”).

When you find yourself in darkness, do you reach for man’s solutions or God’s solutions? Is your light the fake light of man or the real light of God?

But isn’t fake light real light? After all, light is light, right? Wrong. As I said earlier, there are many forms of darkness. Because the light which comes from man is its own form of darkness, it is possible to be “enlightened” and yet be sitting in the dark emotionally and spiritually. The Enlightenment was the beginning of a period where man woke up to the fact that he could create his own light and didn’t need God to create it for him. Tell me, is there more peace, love, integrity, or hope today because of that? I don’t think so. Man’s light is darkness, just in a different form.

So when you are in the dark, to whom will you turn? It makes all the difference.

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© 2013 GBF

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