I shivered as I stepped out into the cold night air. Part of me looked forward to running in the dark, while the other part shivered at the thought. I used to run at night all the time when I was in college, for study breaks and inspiration. That was different, though, there were street lights and paved roads. I live in the middle of nowhere now, a place where street lights don’t exist and vehicles travel at maddening speeds, whipping around corners and cresting hills with little to no warning. These reasons alone cause me to plan to do what I can during daylight hours. But this day had been too full and my running shoes beckoned, inviting me into the dark.
I grabbed my headlamp as I walked out the door, determining it might provide some security. At first, I ran with the headlamp on, the light ahead of me bouncing about, almost making me dizzy. When I turned off the main road onto a gravel road, I decided to see what would happen if I turned my headlamp off. I knew the road well as I run here several times a week. After a few moments, my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I was able to see what lay just ahead of me. There was no moon on this night and as cold air ripped through my lungs, the sight before me took my breath away. Stretched ahead of me were billions of stars twinkling brightly. The winter night sky is amazing! And to my surprise, those very stars provided just enough light for me to see.
And through those stars shining in the dark, God met me in a surprising way. I began to ponder all that the darkness typically prevents me from doing. The loss of daylight limits me. And as I thought about the dark, I was struck by how much darkness I have seen in myself over the past several weeks. God has been raising to the surface some harder places in my heart, spaces where I have unconsciously been protecting myself in relationships, relying on some natural tendencies to manipulate others into meeting my desires. It hasn’t been pretty and at some moments I have felt absolutely overwhelmed, like I am drowning in the agony of the darkness pressing in on all sides of me. I have struggled to see beyond the shadow of my shame and grief over my inability to relinquish my grip on some of these areas of my life. I have felt desperate for relief from the oppressiveness and shame of my own darkness and sin and my struggle to wait in hope for the relief I long for.
Tears welled in my eyes and I gasped for air. Sometimes when all we can see is darkness, it is difficult to see or hope that there is light. On this night, though, God reminded me that even in the darkest places there is still light. In Psalm 139:11-12 David says, “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.” Sometimes I feel like the real me is hidden in the dark, and the light around me has darkened. But on this night, just as the stars gave light to the dark road stretching before me, the darkness in me is not dark to Him. Even in the darkest spaces, His light still shines. In the midst of my struggle with managing and controlling relationships, there is a longing in my heart to love others with the love of Christ, to love them genuinely, without receiving anything in return. In that longing and desire there is light, light that God has placed within me because I have surrendered my life to Him. Light that is readily available to me because Jesus, my Savior, came as a babe and brought light to a dark world. John 1:4 says “In him was life and that life was the light of men.”
Even though the stars in the sky seemed dim in comparison to the sun, there was enough light for me to see. God’s light in me shines brighter than I sometimes can see. I actually wonder if He even sees the darkness in me that I can be so blinded by because He is so drawn by the light in me. No matter how dim that light may be, He is calling it forth as He beckons me further into His love. The darkness in me is as light to Him as He continues to transform me. Awareness and acknowledgement of the darkness is part of that journey, but receiving His light in me is the rest of the story. Again in 2 Samuel 22:29 David says “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”
God is transforming me in this New Year. I am in the place where my eyes are open and I am seeing, sometimes dark and sometimes light. And even though we’ve begun 2019, like the posture we take during Advent, this is still a season of waiting for me because the journey of learning to see the light that shines in my darkness is the journey of a lifetime. And even as I wait and wrestle, God sees the light in me, the real me, and He loves me and looks forward to my eyes adjusting to the light so that I can see what He sees – that I am fully loved!
May this coming year bring an increased awareness of that healing and wondrous truth!