Deepest Darkness

By now everyone in America is aware of the tragic events in Charleston the other day.  Since and in the coming days we as a nation have choices to make.  We will choose to judge, hate, fear, legislate, and either draw closer to or push away others.  We will either fall victim to the fear of similar events in our own communities.  Churchgoers will look over their shoulders more often and watch outsiders critically out of fear.

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41;10

We have already seen politicians trying to leverage the blood of these men and women for their own particular myopic view of what’s wrong with this country – namely what they think is the over-proliferation of guns despite the statistics that demonstrably have proven that more guns has not led to more crime, but rather the marked decrease in violent crime.

Others will grab on to the killer’s racial motives and say that this is an example of the extreme racism prevalent within society.  They will say that this is a more common problem and that this particular tragedy is just the latest example of it.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

These knee-jerk reactions don’t capture the problem though, and it is the problem we all have.  We live in a world of darkness, of hate, of violence, of evil, and sin.  But, the good news is for all of us, and that is that the brightest light is possible from the deepest darkness.  It is in fact not only possible, for God uses evil for ultimate good.

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74     that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us[h] from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:68-79

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139:11-12

“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

The righteous man perishes,
    and no one lays it to heart;
devout men are taken away,
    while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity;
    he enters into peace

Isaiah 57:1-2

While it is tragic that people had to lose their lives, we should rest assured that they died at peace righteous and redeemed.  What an evil men wrought God will turn into something beautiful – and I suspect that it will begin today, with love, not hate, politics, or legislation, in Charleston.  From deepest darkness the light of Christ shines brightest.

Pray for those left behind, thank God for the grace that covers us all, and praise Jesus for reaching though time and gathering all sin to himself so that all men, women, and children of all ages and all nations are redeemed in the Father’s sight – even the man holding the gun the other night.

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Definitions

What is cold?  Is cold a measurable thing?

Hardly.  Cold is a word that use to indicate an relative absence of heat.  Heat is a measurable thing.  It represents existential energy as it affects matter and excites it in order to resonate energy thermally, rather than as magnetic attraction, electricity, or kinetically.  Cold is merely the absence of heat.  There is a scientific law that states that absolute zero is the complete absence of heat (we measure this as zero degrees Kelvin, -273.15 degrees Celsius, or -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit).  We have scientifically never reproduced this absence of heat, although we can come pretty close (the world record is one picoKelvin).  Cold by itself is immeasurable as it merely a definition of a word reliant on our understanding of thermal energy, or heat.

If you really want to throw your mind for a loop, consider this – as temperatures (thermal energy) decrease, molecular interactions begin to slow down.  This continues until you begin to approach that absolute zero point and a complete lack of thermal energy, and then molecular interactions and electron travel inexplicably expands and accelerates to far greater than their normal “range” of interactions.  These interactions introduce energetic releases that begin to heat the molecules again.  It appears to be impossible to remove all heat from even a single atom.

Mankind can split the atom, but the neutrons, protons and electrons are not destroyed.  Mankind can try to manipulate matter to a point where, theoretically, all electron motion should cease and the atom itself would self-terminate through neutralization, but as we get close, that fundamental building block of the entire universe rebels against us.

What is darkness?  Is darkness measurable?  Can it be quantified?

Absolutely not.  Darkness is the absence of light.  In the absence of light, we say that we have darkness, but really all we have is nothing.  What about something painted black? Even when shined on with a light, it remains black.  To the human eye, yes.  To a thermal camera, no.  Photons are absorbed by the black colored item and converted from photonic energy (light) into thermal energy (heat).  This is something anyone with a black car on a July day knows all too well.

Just like cold, darkness is a relative concept that must be tied to light in order to have meaning.  It is a term that must be defined based on it’s polarity in relation to it’s opposite, but it’s opposite is not reliant on it for it’s definition.

Even in a dark room, complete devoid of all internal and external light sources, there is light as chemical interactions generate photons (light) as part of the energy exchange.

Now here’s a question for you to ponder now.

What is death, but merely the absence of life?

What is evil, but merely the absence of good?

In the worst moments in our life, where we find ourselves at the bottom of a pit, buried beneath pain, sorrow, depression, regret, hate, and fear there is hope.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

John 12:46

The answers to all of the questions of this world point to Him, but only if you open your eyes to see.

 

 

 

 

Light

An interesting thought occurred to me this morning.  It revolves around the concept of being light.  I plan on asking about this when I finally get a chance to sit down with my Creator face-to-face because my human mind is having a hard time wrapping itself around this one.

You are the light of the world.

Matthew 5:14

At creation, God created light first.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:3-4

God separates the light from the darkness.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Ephesians 5:8-13

So if God separates the light from the darkness and we are instructed as Christians to have “nothing to do” with darkness and to expose and illuminate what is concealed, is this an act of of our own will or an act of God?  Or has God already separated the light (Godly and righteous) from the dark (sin) once for all eternity?  Did God foreshadow Christ’s sacrifice within the first few words of the Bible?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

1 John 2:15

Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:12

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Martin Luther King Jr.

The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

Plato

Walk by the Light

Have you ever tried to navigate your house when it is pitch black inside?  I have and am able to do so by memory if I go slow enough, but I have grown reluctant since my children have begun to leave toys out.  Have you ever stepped on a die-cast car in bare feet?  Even if you don’t fall to the ground and hurt yourself that way, you stand a good chance of hurting your foot just from the little sharp corners pricking and cutting into your skin.  Imagine trying to move through your darkened house in a hurry – perhaps you heard the crash of glass, or the scream of one of your children.

In my haste, I try to rely on my memory, my good low light vision and my senses to keep me safe, but often find myself bumping into things, stepping on things that I had either failed to notice on the ground or had forgotten, or otherwise misjudging distances.  It is not that I don’t have flashlights or the ability to turn on the room lights or hall lights in order to see better, it’s that I choose not to do so either as a courtesy to my wife who is still asleep or to avoid waking up my other son.

There’s something else there as well though.  It’s a reliance on my own senses and recollection.  It’s an innate confidence that I can handle whatever I come across even in the dark of night.   It is in the many times I have slammed my head into something in the dark, stepped on a toy car, or kicked a door frame and broken a toe as I tried to pass through it that I have come to realize how foolish I am for trying to navigate the dark on my own.

Light and dark as an interplay within the Bible have been exhaustively examined.  My reliance on myself in navigating my house is a great example of how easy it is for us to trip up in life.  In the past, I have tried to navigate by faith, not in the Light, but in my own human senses and memory.  It would be much easier and less painful if I just reached over and grabbed my flashlight before I took the first step.

light-in-the-dark

The dark can be a frightening thing without a way to guide you through it.  It hides, conceals, dulls the senses in one aspect while elevating others to the point of hysteria even.  The imagination runs wild with all of the possibilities that can happen under cover of night.  It is no wonder to me that night is used as the metaphor for evil in the Bible as evil is easily recognized when exposed to the Light, but when darkness falls, it becomes much harder.  Psychologically, we all fear the night at some level and for good reason, danger lurks in the shadows at every turn waiting to trip us up and ruin us.

What are we to do?

Firstly, have faith in the Light of Christ.  Second, own the night.

So, a question to ponder – how can we come to own the night?

Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.

John 11:9-10

You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.

John 12:35-36

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

John 12:46

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2

God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
    and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.

Job 33:28

The sun will no more be your light by day,
    nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory.

Isaiah 60:19

Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Romans 13:12

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

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