Let Your Eyes Adjust: The Reality of Darkness and Light in Our World
My daughter Lila has a little Yoshi night light in her room. It sits in the corner opposite her bed, and emits a light in the color of your choosing. (These days she chooses blue.) One night as I put Lila to bed, after brushing her teeth, we walked into her room.
I turned the light off.
“It’s too dark! It’s too dark, Daddy!”
I scrambled to the Yoshi light and turned it on. She still wasn’t satisfied. So I put my hands on her, and said:
“Baby, let your eyes adjust.”
I knew if Lila gave it a minute, her eyes would dilate and she would be able to see the light within the room. Though the room would still be as dark as it was before, she’d see through it and thereby find her comfort.
Darkness is Inescapable
We can deny that the world isn’t dark, but not for long. If you read Scripture, you’ll know. If you study history, you’ll know. Heck, if you just have one human relationship you’ll know.
Much like Lila’s room wasn’t pitch black, the world isn’t pitch black. It isn’t all evil by any stretch. And my analogy of Lila’s room may suggest that I think the world is darker than it is light, and I’m not so sure about that. But the truth is that the world contains darkness and we, like Lila, don’t like it one bit.
You can run from darkness, but it’ll come with you. That’s because the darkness which we fear and hate is the manifestation of sin, and it’s something we carry with us.
Why Total Depravity is Glorious
There is this doctrine called total depravity. Rare is the preacher who likes to talk about it, or the author who writes about it. The doctrine is Biblical. It is true.
I heard this podcast the other day of some guy explaining the wreckage he made of his life. As he explained his situation to the host of the show, he explained that all the stupid things he did to mess up his life weren’t really him and that the good things he did were actually him. The process of doing the stupid things was knocking off the layers of his false self so his true, beautiful self could emerge.
This is extremely false but almost true.
The false part is that the bad things he was doing weren’t him. We sin because we’re sinners. Straight up. The almost true part is that as we make mistakes we are refined as grown, but not in such a way that our true beauty emerges but rather that we become something entirely new.
So back to total depravity. The doctrine says that we are completely depraved and devoid of all motivation or ability to save ourselves. Ephesians 2:1 says prior to conversion we are dead in our trespasses and sins. That’s total depravity. And while it’s very bad news for the unredeemed, it’s terrific news for the saved.
Why? Because the undeserving are the most grateful. Resurrect a dead person and they are bound to see life in a new way. This is much different from helping someone get over a head cold.
Seeing the Light That is There
Though the world can be a scary place, it should not be that scary to God’s children. At all. The terribleness of the world was the reason Jesus had to come. He ran toward the darkness, his own love being the torch to light it up.
And his light cannot be extinguished.
Our eyes need to adjust to the world. We need to see that when we drench our bedclothes with the tears of grief, God is giving our souls a bath. We need to remember that when terrorists seek to create hell on earth, heaven has already come to earth and his Spirit resides within us. There is no darkness which covers up the light of Christ. It cannot. Light is more powerful than dark.
Let your eyes adjust.