Monday, June 24, 2013

'Even in darkness, light dawns'

Psalm 112:4-6 (NIV)

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
   for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
   who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
   they will be remembered forever.
I have had far too much experience of later with both the dark of night and the sun’s early morning rays. The former is because I have to stay up past my insomniac children in order to get anything done around the house. The latter is because we got new windows in January and have yet to replace our old window shades with anything thicker than an old bed sheet. Given the eastern exposure of our bedroom windows, well, the splendor of the new dawn makes sure I don’t ever sleep too long into the morning.

Fortunately I have not been dealing with figurative darkness. Things have been going fairly well as we learn how summer will go around the house. Of course school looms at the end of August, and even that is just a prelude for the real upheaval of the arrival of another baby. Not that I expect darkness to descend upon us, but I’m trying to acknowledge the impermanence of any sort of rhythm we might be establishing. Even without the changes I expect to see, I acknowledge none of us are promised tomorrow.

I keep reading the first five words of this passage over and again: “Even in darkness light dawns…” I do like the remainder, about being upright, gracious, generous, just, compassionate and righteous, all of which are highly admirable. But without those modifiers, the message is even more powerful. No matter the darkness, God’s light shines through.

If I am upright, it is because God holds me in place. If I am gracious, it is because I live in response to God’s grace poured out for me. If I am generous it is because God has blessed me with far more than I deserve. If I am just, it is because God has given me the strength to stand firm in my conviction. If I have compassion, it is because God has allowed me to see the world through His eyes and hear with His ears. If I am righteous, it is because God alone has purified me.

And what has been done for me can be done for anyone. For my wife, for my kids, for our friends at church, for the lady in front of me at the checkout line or the driver I yelled at the other day when I couldn’t see to make my turn, everyone. That’s why the light shines in any type of darkness.

I ardently hope my children will never find themselves in a truly dire situation, and that the way we raise them will help them always be able, at least in part, to see the bright side. But I can’t keep them completely safe, nor can I teach them how to think. I can only hope and pray that if they do feel surrounded by any type of darkness they allow me to help find a way for the light to shine through.

Lots of parents feel this way. Heck, I hope they all do. Certainly there are plenty who wished for the best only to come face to face with the worst. I don’t know if I could ever adequately describe that kind of fear to someone who hasn’t already experienced it personally. It’s the obverse of the joy parenting brings: We love these tiny people more than we ever knew possible, which means anything bad they encounter will hurt us more than we ever considered.

But “even in darkness, light dawns.” Maybe I’d be a lot less excited about that reassurance if a had a healthy dose of darkness right now. But I’ve been there before, and God has pulled me out. It is those times I feel overcome by an indescribable peace, and I know somehow, far beyond anything I’ll ever comprehend, God is at work within me, allowing me to see light, to run toward it and to embrace life. This is one of the experiences I most want my kids to understand, yet it’s also the one I have the least sense of how to pass along.

I don’t think I’ll be remembered forever, although they say whatever is written on the Internet never goes all the way away, so maybe I’ll have some shred of digital immortality. But remembered or not, I will not be shaken. Not so long as God’s light leads me onward through whatever life may bring. Even in darkness.

A prayer for June 24:

Lord, thank you for making sure I’ll never be without your light. Thank you for the strength when I am weak, the guidance when I am lost and the peace when I am anxious. Sometimes I want nothing more than for my kids to be able to understand the ways I sense you at work in my life, but I have no idea how to teach that lesson. I ask you to find ways to speak to them as well, and help me learn ways to open their minds and hearts to what you have in store. Lead us where you need us to go. Amen.

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