I asked my Sunday school kids what people were most afraid of, what THEY were afraid and I was surprised at how many of them said the dark. Whether it was the woods outside, or the basement or their bedroom, they did not like the dark. Even the kid who works in my office at the college is afraid of the dark. He is a big hulking kid, built like Hagrid’s little brother, but one trip through the darkened theater, down the back hallway to deliver something to the dressing rooms was enough to give him the shivers for the rest of the afternoon.
I admitted to my Sunday school kids that I was afraid of “wild” dark, but not the tame dark, like at my house. I’m not afraid of my living room or my attic, or even my basement. I asked them why that was so. We decided it was because I knew what was there, and I knew where the light switches were. In a couple of seconds, I can make the dark light. “But something could be hiding!” one of them added.
And that’s what makes the difference. What is hiding in the dark?
In David’s masterful psalm, he transitions from a discussion of God’s imperviousness to the dark to an examination of his innermost self. I don’t think that’s an accident. When David says in verse 1, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” that includes even the darkest corners of his heart and mind. Unlike most of us– who shy away from solitude, who shrink from deep confession, who avoid transparency– God is not hesitant to go there.
Why not? Because He knows what is hiding there.
That is the amazing, wondrous, awesome thing about the God we worship and serve. He knows all of those things about us, the secret sins, the hidden thoughts and He brings light to them. With His great grace and boundless love, He further ensures that we longer have to be afraid of what’s in the dark or of His discovery of it. He has already seen, already searched and inventoried and already chosen to love us. To love you. To love me.
Because He has seen and known and loved, the darkness is “tame” now. He knows what’s there and He can make the darkness light instantaneously. By the end of the psalm, David invites God in to deal with the darkness.
No one can tell you not to be afraid of the dark. That is something you have to reckon with on your own. In the same way, it does no good to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid of what’s hiding in the darkness of your innermost self, or that God can deal with all of it in love and grace. That is something you have to reckon with on your own.
But I hope you do.
I’ve gotten some great responses to the survey, – one question, no math – but I’m closing it down Friday (aka tomorrow Feb 2), tabulating the responses and drawing for the Starbucks cards.