Shutting the Door on the Darkness
In John Ortberg’s book on "Soul Keeping," he talks about his friend and mentor Dallas Willard’s advice to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I don’t really live hurried, at least not in the sense of rushing from one place to the next. My life has become less cluttered with activity—somewhat by choice and somewhat because of life stage. But the margin doesn’t mean I have eliminated hurry. The truth is I often have a hurried spirit.
It’s tough for me to admit that I feel hurried in my uncluttered life because my hurried spirit manifests itself as an anxious spirit. And it is evidence that getting the outside “right” doesn’t necessarily mean the inside follows.
There was an overriding sense of peace that permeated John's friend’s life. It was a pace that challenged John because Dallas’ pace dictated their time together. Dallas lived unhurried from the inside out. John had to slow to join him, to be present with him.
Peace comes when we rest in the grace and goodness of God. Peace comes when we rest in the fact that God is over all. He holds all things together. It’s not up to me to keep the world spinning on its axis. Thank God! (I mean that, literally!)
Since God is not a liar, we can know what He says is true.
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. (1 John 3:4-5)
Sin creates disorder, chaos. Sin set the world, and the people created to enjoy it, at odds with Peace. Sin made the world a dark and lawless place. No one has to tell us this truth. Because we can perceive this, we need to think about our proper response it.
Peace is a person. His name is Jesus and he takes away the sin that had set its sight on our destruction. He took it away “having nailed it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14) We are rescued from darkness to light when we trust in the saving power of Jesus. Once we were blind but now we see.
The darkness is a fearful place. Once my sister and I took our kids to a rustic cabin. The only electricity was a car battery which went dead within a day of being there. The cabin sat in a hollow. It took a long while to see the sun in the morning even as we saw the light coming into the sky above. In the afternoon, the sun slipped behind the mountain way before day was done. One night we sat indoors in the light of a lantern or two. (No electricity gives one such an appreciation for batteries.) My niece opened the door to retrieve something from the porch. She slammed it immediately. We thought something was out there. We wanted to know what she had seen. She exclaimed, “I was shutting the door on the darkness.”
Of course, we were curious and had to see for ourselves. When we opened the door, it was if a black sheet had been hung up in the door frame. You could see nothing in the darkness outside the door. Nothing. Not a star. It was an intimidating dark. No doubt that night, if we were going out on the porch, we needed to take the light with us.
That is a great metaphor for living in this dark world. We have the Light living in us in the person of Jesus Christ. We are the lamps. When walking in this dark world, we bring his light to it and with it peace. It’s so awe-inspiring to think that God would entrust us with such a mission.
So we go. We don’t rush about with our lights. We move into darkness, not fearful, but diligent. We are aware that sin is crouching at the door, moving to and fro, seeking to leave destruction in his wake. Racing around with our lights doesn’t read peace to the world. We want to be a light that says come join me, I have found The Way. If we follow Jesus, we won’t be hurried because that is not his way.
We have a choice. We can’t live in fear of the darkness or we can be lights in it. As Christians, we can’t opt out of the choice. We make the choice every day. We can be intentional or we can live in our emotions. If we let fear rule, we’ll slam the door out of fear when we have a lantern we can take with us. It doesn’t take much light to overcome the darkness. It’s true. We know this, but we need the courage to shine forth the beauty of Christ. Sometimes this means slowing, living unhurried and present with others. When we live this way, we lead them to the Light.
Be bold, be courageous, be a light!