Monday, January 20, 2014

Walking in the Dark

When I was a boy, my parents took us to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.  The tour we took had us walk deep into the caverns where we saw stalagmites, stalactites and other beautiful formations.  These formations were lit up so beautifully they caused me to say "Wow"!  At one of the stops in the tour, the park ranger had the children grab the hand of the adult who was with them because the ranger was going to turn out the lights to demonstrate how dark the cave is naturally.  Slowly, one by one, the lights went out and we were in total darkness.  After a few seconds, the ranger instructed us to hold the back of one of our hands up to our face to see if there was any reflection of light off of our finger nails...nothing by blackness.  In that moment, I felt fear.  I did not want to move in any direction because one wrong step could mean I would trip or fall to my death.  My body was frozen from fear, mystery and the unknown.  I was thankful I was holding on to the hand of my father. 

As I have moved through my life, I have had other dark and mysterious experiences where I have been tempted to freeze in the darkness of the unknown.  Whether it was my son being born with an ear deformity, my first daughter who became mentally handicapped due to a vaccination, my wife going through breast cancer or a close friend who sought to discredit me, I have faced many dark and mysterious times in my life.  In these dark times I have been tempted to freeze because I had no idea what to do next.  It is in these dark times when people, and especially men, are tempted to quit moving in the dark because there are no instruction manuals on what to do next.

Recently a friend mine shared that he was stuck in his spiritual life because circumstances had his head and heart spinning out of control.  His answer to the confusion, to the darkness, was to freeze.  He felt that if he didn't move, he could hold the confusion at bay so no more damage could be done.  In his choice to freeze, his spiritual life and strength were drained rapidly as he choose to isolate instead of engage the unknown.  

It is in these dark moments of life that we need to move but we are tempted to freeze.  Moving in the dark is always risky but moving is the godly choice.  As we hold on the hand of God and move through the darkness, light eventually begins to seep into our experience and we learn that moving in the midst of confusion is always the right choice.  To remain stuck or frozen means escape will never be found and death by isolation is imminent. 

Moving when things are dark includes following what the Scriptures teach us.  In this case the Scriptures instruct us to always love others instead of isolating in our darkness.  Jesus taught us this as He moved through His darkness of being betrayed, falsely tried as a criminal, beaten and crucified.  He looked for a way out (Matthew 26:34-44), but choose to follow His Father's leading and to love others in the middle of the darkness.  How did Jesus love others in this dark cave?  He invited His followers to pray with Him in the garden, he healed Malchus' ear after it was cut off, He looked at Peter when He denied Him, He ministered to thief on the cross and He comforted His mother while dying.  Jesus didn't freeze and isolate in the middle of His darkness.  

Godly people are certainly tempted to freeze at every dark turn of life but they choose to follow the leading of the Father instead.  Godly people continue to point others to Jesus instead of looking for ways to stay safe.  Godly people move in the midst of darkness.

*For a full discourse on this topic read The Silence of Adam or Men of Courage by Larry Crabb)