“And that’s when I realize that freedom isn’t real when we run in the daylight, open fields and limbs flailing. Rather, it looks like a deep confidence in the midst of the darkness that it won’t have the last word.”
I recently memorized Psalm 139. It’s a classic and I love all the famous bits about the value of our humanity and the Creator’s involvement in the intricate details of our existence and being. It’s deep. But a couple of verses about light and darkness and God’s perspective on both took me by surprise.
The psalmist says in the middle of a conversation about the impossibility of escaping God’s spirit no matter where we go: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
The darkness cannot hide me.
I feel like I should say that ten times slowly and put in a classic ‘selah’ (meaning pause and reflect) after each one. The darkness cannot hide me. Not even the darkness loitering in my mind–waiting for any doubt or confusion to latch on and wreak havoc on my human brain–can hide me.
Or the kind that oppresses me from the outside, such as the betrayal of a friend. That kind of darkness leaves me on the street with a pain deep in my gut as though I’ve been punched. In times like these, I want to take to the pavement and kick and scream like my three-year-old gets the pleasure of doing whenever he feels that way. But, I have to walk on and work to keep the dark presence of betrayal at bay. Even then, the darkness cannot hide me.
When I’m alone, or at least feel that way, with my own damn overwhelming sense of unworthiness and wondering if my flash of a life might make any difference at all in this dark world—not even that darkness can hide me.
I’ve been at this “light of the world” stuff for a while now, but this truth has been following me for a few months: God isn’t scared of the dark. Actually, even more truthful than that—the darkness is as light to God. Which is like saying that God refuses to be intimidated, pushed out, bullied, afraid of or offended by the dark. And even more truthful than that is this: the darkness is scared of the light. And it should be.
The Bible tells us that if we are in the light and the truth is in us, we don’t have to be afraid. Or intimidated. Or bullied. Or offended. Or pushed back by the sheer seemingly unending amount of darkness all around us and even inside of us. For even the darkness is as light to Him. It’s not a denial of the dark. It’s an overthrow of its power. It’s a revolution of truth and love. It’s a refusal to be stopped. I’m pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned. Struck down, but not destroyed.
The darkness cannot hide me.
And even when it tries (and you can be sure it does and it will) even the night will shine like the day. As surely as the dawn appears, He comes to us. And so I whisper this prayer in the darkness when I find myself much more afraid than I ought to be:
Light of the world, shine upon me.
Light of the world, shine in me.
Light of the world, shine through me.
As I whisper this truth, the wick of freedom lights with hope and warms my cold, scared heart. And that’s when I realize that freedom isn’t real when we run in the daylight, open fields and limbs flailing. Rather, it looks like a deep confidence in the midst of the darkness that it won’t have the last word. It looks like a solid stand in the pitch black, a bending of the knee to the greater glory. A submission to the truth even when I can’t see. God with me.
Wherever I am, I walk by faith toward the light. The darkness cannot hide me.
Image credit: Kyle May