Are you ever afraid of the dark? Darkness can fill us with anxiety and even terror if we think of it as the abode of demons and bogeymen, but we should realize that it’s also the dwelling place of God, His pavilion. God stores many treasures in the darkness that He only displays at special times.
In today’s blog, I intended to talk about the subject of LIGHT. Perhaps light vs. dark, or shining in the darkness. Something to that general effect, because I planned to discuss an astronomy theme that’s recently peeked out from some of my writing projects. For example, the Swan Island Secrets trilogy features the motifs of the aurora—the dawn—and the morning/evening star, Venus.
Instead, I’m focusing on DARKNESS–that is, found treasures in the darkness. In the Bible, darkness often represents evil and sin. That seems normal and natural because, after all, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (I Jn. 1:5).
But just before God said, “Let there be light,” He set the stage for creation this way: “…Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface…” (Gen. 1:2). God moves in the darkness.
He promised His servant Cyrus, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places…” (Is. 45:3). Though Almighty God “dwells in unapproachable light” (I Tim. 6:16), He uses darkness as much as any other tool. What are some of these hidden riches?
“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” –Sarah Williams
The studies of cosmology and astronomy hold riveting mysteries. Isn’t it exciting to realize that everything that feels like the stuff of fantasy and science fiction may someday form our daily lives? In the not-so-distant future, we’ll discover more and more of the wonders of the universe.
All Mysteries Solved
Last year I shared the thrill of a total solar eclipse centered in the Elqui Valley near our home in Coquimbo, Chile. The entire country paused to watch as a corona of fiery light ringed the black orb of the sun—a spectacle that none of us will ever forget. One of the treasures in the darkness, for sure.
When our daughters were teens, we occasionally vacationed in the Elqui Valley, a semi-arid gorge nestled between Andean foothills and terraced vineyards. It’s a hot spot of New Age esoterism, desert legends such as the Chupacabra (the Goat-sucker, like the Big-foot of the Atacama), exotic vibes, and multiple UFO sightings. With some of the clearest skies in the world, the area is also home to a generous population of stargazers, both amateur and professional.
“I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will cherish the darkness for it shows me the stars.” –Og Mandino
The girls loved astronomy and the midnight pilgrimage to Mamalluca, a local observatory open to the public. That fascination probably led in part to Total Eclipse, a mystery we’re collaborating on (which may require a few years to finish). The story involves the Southern Hemisphere polestar (Acrux), an “extraterrestrial” abduction, and a cabal of serious researchers-turned-UFO-logists…all counting down to a solar eclipse in the Elqui Valley.
Since it’s just for fun, plot ideas spring up from anywhere. Possibly parts of this one stem from a Chilean pastor friend’s tall tale while posted in the desert as a young soldier. The 1977 prank went horribly public (viral, we’d say today) and, wildly exaggerated, twisted into a “credible” time-warp case. It cost him years to shift the truth from darkness to light.
Secrets of Translation
Which brings me to today’s chapter in The Quarantine Tales. A round-robin of family storytelling in a shut-down coastal village offers this group of young people more than just a way to while away the long weeks. Sure, stories help them escape from tough reality, but they also refresh happy memories and transport the kids to mesmerizing locales.
Next up, Micaela Greenfield, the adopted daughter of a wealthy American couple, can’t decide between the two items she picked from the story-prompt bag. The cardboard eclipse glasses or the snow globe?
“Easy choice,” Lucas says. “We already know the one about how you met your parents in that freak snowstorm.”
“I don’t,” Seba contradicts.
“Never mind, I’ve figured out how to combine both things.” Micaela takes a deep breath and begins in a sonorous voice. “A little girl is playing alone in a park on the afternoon of the eclipse. As the day turns to dusk and an eerie hush deepens, she finds herself abducted by—”
“Aliens?!” Half a dozen groans interrupt her. “Come on, Micaela. You don’t really believe that rubbish, do you?”
She shrugs. “Maybe not…but like they say, Where fire burns, ashes remain.”
“Micki, I think the proverb’s speaking more about romantic feelings—you know, like an old flame?” Estella puts in. “It’s burning a candle for someone, not a crop circle.”
Keli, the game leader, frowns, hands on hips. “Quiet, everybody. It’s her story. Let her tell it how she wants.”
And she does. Micaela flips “Abducted by Aliens” on its head…to “Adopted by Angels.” The child whose parents abandoned her relives the amazing saga of her rescue and acceptance into a new and loving family. Treasures in the darkness.
Kingdom of Miracles
Just as Enoch and Elijah were “translated” from earth to heaven by miraculous means in the Old Testament, so God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). The King from another world has swooped in and abducted us from this domain of darkness. He has carried us light years beyond this earth to adoption into the royal family of a Heavenly Father.
“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” –Madeleine L’Engle
All that was once alien to us, now becomes family privilege. What was a distant dream lies as near as a whispered prayer. We are born, not just under a “lucky star,” but we are “qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Col. 1:12). The stars no longer represent a faraway charm to wish upon, but a part of the kingdom property. I like to think I might swing on my own someday.
A miracle—this legacy of treasures in the darkness.
Here under the Southern Cross, it’s also our kingdom responsibility to live as “children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Some translations say, “Shine like stars!”
“In the stars His handiwork I see, On the wind He speaks with majesty…” –Ralph Carmichael, He’s Everything to Me
Our Father lives in the Kingdom of Light. He IS the true Sun in this dark universe. But He speaks in the darkness: “The Lord spoke…from the midst of…the thick gloom…” (Dt. 5:22). And He walks with us, as with David, through all our darkest troubles: “(God) came down with thick darkness under His feet… He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him…” (Ps. 18:9-11).
His “canopy” is a pavilion, a temporary shelter such as for journeys or military campaigns. What a blessed treasure to know our darkness won’t last forever. But no matter what, our God is IN the darkness: “Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2). His Majesty works and even reigns in the darkness.
That’s a hard truth to fathom. But “even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is bright as day. Darkness and light are alike to you” (Ps.139:12). He can see to lead just as well in the darkness as in the light. He’s able to reveal those treasures in the darkness.
You know what’s a treasure to me? “He knows what is in the darkness” (Dan. 2:22)—and He is not afraid. With my hand in His, neither am I.
Because I trust that “God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts” (2 Cor. 4:6). From the deepest doubts of the human soul to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, blessed be His name.
“Stars can’t shine without darkness.” –Anonymous