Through Darkness to the Light

At my work, I sometimes host a StarLab program, at the start of which I make a speech on the etiquette expected from attendees while they huddle inside the dome. It’s a great big inflatable semi-circle of synthetic fabric, easily torn by rough-housing or a careless shoe. Also key: the dome must stay inflated through a constantly-running fan, and if the entrance tube is held open too long, the air rapidly escapes.

The littler children frequently freeze on first entering the tube. It’s pitch black for the first few feet, and that’s a long way for tiny legs to crawl without light. The problem here is, when you hold up the line, you hold the entrance open, which causes the dome to deflate. So I give the wee ones (and their parents) a pep talk before we head in:

“Now, it’s going to be a little dark when you get inside the tunnel, but I need you to keep going so others can come inside, too. As soon as you round the corner, you’ll see the light of the projector and be in the nice open space of the dome.”

After doing this spiel roughly four times in a row, the symbolism dawned on me. It probably helped that during this particular hosting of the StarLab, I was in the throes of medical trouble and about to start a somewhat worrying rehabilitation process. I thought about that dark tube and couldn’t fault the children for crying while they were led through it. I’d had my own share of fits when faced with personal darkness.

But God gives His own reassurance: “The dark part is brief. I need you to keep going, because in time you’ll see My light is up ahead.” My own corny interpretation, I’ll grant you – and maybe clichéd. But I will add that it’s never quite what we think when we round the corner and emerge on the other side.

In the StarLab dome, there’s only enough illumination to find your seat. Just two pinprick lightbulbs on either side of the projector. No blinding flash, no angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus in assurance that you’ve finally made it out all right. (That’d probably frighten the little ones even more, come to think.) All that greets you is a glimmer – not striking but steady. Enough to bring comfort after a frightening journey.

The children always forget the darkness as soon as the stars spread around the dome. How funny that it takes so little to reassure them. I suppose that’s the sort of appreciation time spent in pitch black will teach you. I’d like to have that sort of faith, too.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5

4 thoughts on “Through Darkness to the Light

  1. Excellent as always, and especially poignant this week. It brought tears to my eyes in thankfulness not only for your friendship but also for the beautiful things God is working in you and through you. Love you so much, frehn!

    1. Thank you, frehn. Your words always mean a lot to me. I don’t claim to know what God’s doing, but He always seems to know when we need a little comfort in life. Love YOU so much!

  2. Walking through the darkness by the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel seems to be the theme of life for so many lately. I love that these small everyday things turn into such powerful messages for others, as they often do for me.

    I always feel a tiny bit crazy as something simple, and seemingly completely unrelated to God, becomes a powerful symbol of his provision in my life because I am so aware of what others might be seeing from the outside (which always tickles me). It’s a good kind of crazy, similar, I think to what the disciples must have felt every time Jesus said something that went over their heads. Something akin to, “Wow, I can only imagine what this person would think if they heard my thought process regarding this flower’s symbolism for God’s presence in my life.”

    Our faith was never meant to be something we completely understand, and the others around us will always give us the eyebrow and wonder how much of our brain must be missing for us to believe that these things are “signs” from God.

    I feel sorry that so many can pass by all the tiny things that God speaks through and never hear his whisper of strength, healing, peace, etc. These things sustain me. Life without them would be really stressful, beyond what it already has been.

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy your writing voice (and only sometimes your regular voice – kidding!), and I am glad to have found out about this blog 🙂

    1. You’ve made my day completely, Tia. 🙂 I totally get what you’re saying. I’ve had times where God will use the tiniest thing that I wasn’t expecting to wrap up two months of personal spiritual reflection. I like how you talked about the tiny whispers of God being so sustaining. I sometimes get stuck thinking He needs to show up in a BIG way to help my faith, but He’s constantly humbling me to realize our relationship isn’t like that.

      I hope you keep in touch after your move, and you weigh in on these blog posts whenever the urge strikes you. 🙂 But now I’ve decided that for the whole time you’re at work today and/or tomorrow I’m going to give you a constant stream of my chatter.

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