Have you ever experienced total and complete darkness? When I was in high school I worked at a local drug store. One of my jobs there was to help develop photos. The process was done mostly by machines, but there was one step that forced me into total darkness. When the big machine ran out of photo paper the roll would have to be replaced in total darkness. I would remove the container holding the used up roll and go into a back room that was totally dark. I tried everything to trick myself into thinking I could see something. I waved my hand in front of my face while wiggling my fingers, I opened and closed my eyes quickly, but nothing – I was in total and complete darkness, trusting my hands to do the work that my eyes could not see.
Nine years later I found myself sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. As the sun set and the darkness grew, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I’m a small town girl and have had the privilege of living in places where the city lights didn’t drown out the stars. However my eyes have never seen anything as beautiful as that pitch black sky illuminated by thousands of the brightest stars I have ever seen. I didn’t want to close my eyes and sleep; I knew that when I woke up the splendor of that night would be gone.
In my journey with chronic illness there have been times where I felt the darkness creeping in; I think we all have. Erin wrote about it in her blog post A Penny for Your Thoughts just last week. When one bad day leads to a bad week that turns into a bad month the darkness seems to be waiting there to swallow us up. No matter how many tricks we try it’s no use, the darkness is too thick. When that happens it is easy to become, as Paul says, hopelessly confused. He is speaking truth when he says that we wander far from the life that God gives because we have closed our minds and hardened our hearts against Him. Once our mind goes to a dark place we get confused, we begin to doubt God and His love for us and our hearts can quickly begin to harden. When our hearts are hard we don’t care what we say or do or what happens to us. Nothing really matters when we have lost sight of eternity.
Thankfully, Paul doesn’t stop at verse 18. He continues to write in verses 20-24: “But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
When we feel the darkness closing in on us, we have a choice to make. We can continue to be deceived, believing that God doesn’t care what we are going through, or we can turn to Him and ask the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. God doesn’t expect us to have the strength to do this on our own; He has given us the Holy Spirit as a helper. All we need to do is ask. He will help us put on our new nature.
It’s almost too good to be true…but it is true! We can choose to walk out of the back room that is filled with total and complete darkness. We may not walk into a bright and green place right away. We may still find ourselves under the pitch black sky in the middle of a desert. However, when we look up we will see beauty - the most beautiful sky we have ever seen illuminated by thousands of bright stars lighting up the darkness of the desert place.
So I ask you, “Will you cower in the corner of a dark back room or will you, in a leap of faith, open the door and step out into a beautiful place where the Holy Spirit will help you renew your thoughts and attitudes and put on a new nature that is created to be righteous and holy like God? The choice, my friend, is yours.
"Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” –John 8:12, The Message
© January 22, 2013