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When Darkness Descends

October 22nd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 6: 23 (NLT)

23 For their command is a lamp
      and their instruction a light;
     their corrective discipline
      is the way to life.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

One week ago today, half of the population of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee received an impromptu, completely effective illustration of darkness.  It was around 6:30 p.m. and I was just calling the students in our youth group to gather in their small groups.  No sooner had I said the words . . . bam!  Darkness descended upon our church as quickly and dramatically as any poorly-written horror movie you’ve ever seen.

Imagine a hundred students all gathered in one room when the lights go out.  Just down the hall from us, easily another hundred younger children in different classrooms suddenly found themselves the dark as well.  In all reality, nobody panicked.  For that matter, our students seemed more excited about the adventure of the power outage than the youth service they were missing . . . a single, solitary tear just rolled down my cheek.  Moving on.

When darkness overtakes a house or a building, the first thing we all do is obvious: we start looking around for light.  Candles.  Flashlights.  In my case, the incredible “Flashlight” app on my iPhone.  Hey, the power company might have let me down, but the iPhone remains trustworthy and unscathed!  Kids and adults alike clumsily felt their way through hallways and classrooms by the light of their cellphones.  For there to be such darkness, I was surprised at how much light everyone found when they had to.

When thirty minutes passed and the power never came back on, we decided to send everyone home for safety’s sake.  Of course, no power meant no parking lot lights or street lights.  So, I made my way to the parking lot and used my trusty iPhone to direct traffic and watch for roaming children.  Just then, my iPhone rang.  I answered it only to hear the hysterical voice of one of my students on the other end.  I couldn’t make out much of what she said, but I did ascertain that another one of my students had been in a car accident.  In fact, she was on her way to youth group when she hit a utility pole and broke it in half!  As it turned out, the darkness we were experiencing was a direct result of her accident.

Laura and I raced to the hospital to meet her there.  Miraculously and against all odds, she sustained no major injuries and in a few hours had the ability to walk . . . gingerly, mind you . . . to her mom’s vehicle and go home unharmed.  The car . . . not so much; it was pretty much destroyed.  So today marks the one-week anniversary of our beloved student’s miraculous protection from certain injury or worse.  But for just a few moments, I want to focus on the darkness that her accident produced.

Our building, as a commercial structure, is required to have emergency lights that come on when the power goes out.  They are battery-powered, separate from the power source of the rest of the building.  They ensure that those who suddenly experience darkness will have enough light to find their way to safety.

This passage continues Proverbs’ theme of the nature of wisdom.  Just like the young woman in our youth ministry, accidents and darkness can fall upon our lives without warning and with devastating effects. Family crises.  Unexpected weaknesses in an area of one’s life.  Sickness or death.  Confusion.  Depression. Bitterness.  These “power outages” can quickly descend upon us and hinder our ability to see clearly which direction to walk.  But when life’s light bulbs go black, we have another “Source” completely independent of the circumstances around us.  His luminosity cannot be darkened.

Wisdom shines the brightest in moments of darkness.  It is when situations are most grim and countenances are most downcast that the voice of wisdom is most timely and refreshing.  Maybe that’s why scripture refers to wisdom as “a lamp,” “a light,” and “the way to life.”  This wisdom comes to us in various forms, some of which we often don’t want to acknowledge; things like “commands, instructions, and corrective discipline.”  Yikes!

Oh, but rest assured that in the moment of darkness, you’ll be happy when the “emergency lights” of God’s wisdom illuminate the path to safety.  He may shine it through our parents.  It may come through pastors. It may glimmer thought a ray of hope from trusted friends who hold us accountable to the truth.  However it comes, it will make most sense when life is the darkest.  In those moments, we should always remember to turn our eyes towards the light of wisdom.

So today, I couldn’t be more excited that our student’s life was spared.  Also, I couldn’t be more elated that the Father will never leave us blindly meandering in the darkness of our circumstance.  Just look for the light.



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