Seeing in the Dark

“We speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen” (John 3:11)

Have you ever been lost in the dark? It can be dangerous and frightening. You may be limited in your ability to see where you’ve been, where you are, or where you’re going. “Darkness” also can provide an image for a troubled situation, or a state of mind. When someone is confused or lacking understanding, we may say that person is “in the dark.”

But sometimes darkness isn’t so bad. Being in the dark, we can admit we need to find our way. We can let go of our illusions of self-sufficiency. Being in the dark also can give us an in-between time, a time between who we were and who we are going to be. This can be a time of change and transformation that doesn’t immediately appear on the surface of things. Seedlings grow in the dark with no changes visible on the surface. We can begin to grow in the darkness if we accept the possibilities and limitations of our situation.

It was that way for Nicodemus. He came to Jesus in the dark. He would never have been seen with Jesus in broad daylight. He wasn’t ready to be associated with Jesus, or to be his disciple. But his visit was more than mere curiosity. He was in-between. Nicodemus went to Jesus in the dark to ask the questions that mattered most. And at first his encounter with Jesus only led to more questions: How can anyone be born after having grown old? How can these things be? (John 3:4, 9).

Nicodemus didn’t stay in the dark, and he didn’t remain in-between. Later, in very public ways, Nicodemus would urge restraint against those who would have condemned Jesus without a hearing (John 7:50-51), and he actually went out with Joseph of Arimathea to honor and bury Jesus’ body after the crucifixion (John 19:38-42).

It can be that way for us, too. We may find ourselves in the dark. We may be confused and uncertain about what comes next or where we are. But in the darkness we can let go of our illusions of self-sufficiency and ask for help from our Lord. We can ask all our questions and listen with our hearts. Like Nicodemus, we can grow in the light, and reflect what we have seen and known of our Lord.

Look it Up

See Martin H. Franzmann’s hymn text, “Thy strong word did cleave the darkness” (Hymn 381). See also A Collect for Aid against Perils and A Collect for Protection (BCP, p. 123-124).

Think About It

When have you been lost in the dark? When have you had trouble finding your way, or knowing the right thing to do in a situation? What helped you to “see the light”? How have you known God’s love in difficult situations?


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