God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
It’s very difficult to imagine complete darkness unless you have experienced it first-hand. I’m not talking about the type of darkness you experience by closing the curtains and turning off all the lights in your house. That may keep a good portion of the light out, but not all of it. Last summer, my family and I went to Pennsylvania for my sister’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, she married a great man who is filled with God’s love, and I am happy for both of them to have found one another. While my family and I were in Pennsylvania, we decided to take a short road trip into Ohio to see some of my family I don’t often get to see or spend time with.
Now, I am the type of person who feels compelled to stop and look at whatever roadside oddity I can find, whether it is the world’s largest ball of twine, a singing statue of Perry Como, or a rock at a McDonald’s drive thru with an image of Bobby Vinton engraved on it! I can’t tell you how many covered bridges and National Parks we stopped to see that were not on our agenda, but I can tell you that most of my family does not share my adventurous nature and desire to explore these strange things.
One of the spur of the moment places we stopped at that my family actually did enjoy was a cave tour. After stopping for a tour of the Hershey factory, I honestly didn’t think they would be up for a cave tour, but I thought I would give it a shot nonetheless. Thankfully they really enjoyed it and we got to experience something together that we normally don’t get see – the inside of a cave!
I’m not sure if any of you have ever been in a cave, but it was a very unique and memorable experience to say the least. The deeper we went into the cave, the colder it got. There were all sorts of rock formations that were still being formed by the dripping water coming through the rock from above. As you may or may not imagine, there is no natural light inside a cave – no windows or skylights! Since there is no natural light deep in a cave, there were long strands of lights illuminating the pathways throughout the tour to make it visible for everyone. They had lights shining up onto the ceiling of the cave which was about 50 feet above us, as well as onto the rock formations for people to see them easily. There were also lights along the pathway that outlined a very carefully marked path which we were instructed to say on and not to wander off for safety reasons. The lights along the path made it pretty simple and easy to follow the path.
We were about 35 minutes into the tour and pretty deep into the cave when the tour guide asked us to put our cameras and phones away. He said if we had anything that emitted light in any way, to stow it away so there would be no light showing. He said wanted us all to see what complete darkness looked like, noting that complete darkness is not something we are used to in our regular daily life. He said that even in the darkest room of our house, with all the lights off and with our heads under the covers with our eyes closed, and with the darkest curtains we could find covering our windows, there would always be a little light that crept in somewhere. Once everyone had their electronics put away, the tour guide asked us for complete silence as he clicked a switch and turned off all the lights – and I mean all of them.
Being in complete darkness not something I can truthfully say I was prepared for. It was overwhelming to say the least. The lights were probably only off for less than 30 seconds, but it felt like it was a lot longer than that when we were standing there. It was absolutely impossible to see anything at all – no shapes, no outlines, no hints of the path we were on when we walked into this area – nothing! You could not tell which way was in or out of the cave. If the tour guide would have left us there and walked out of the cave, we would probably still be in there looking for a way to get out!
The huge room in the cave we were just standing in felt incredibly small. With complete silence and complete darkness, the room we were in felt no larger than our own bodies. I started thinking about what just a little light would do in the complete darkness of the cave we were in. The tour guide had a small flashlight that he turned on while the lights were out to show us how just a little light went a long way in the darkness of the cave. As strange as it sounds, just the flashlight being on gave me a feeling of safety and warmth, and hope too! As the tour guide turned the main lights back on, it was amazing how much more comfortable I started to feel once I was able to see again. The feelings I experienced were unlike anything I have felt before. I was uneasy, worried I was going to trip and fall, concerned about my family because I was unable to see them, even though they were standing right next to me, and I know my wife felt very anxious because she was squeezing my arm and didn’t let go while the lights were out.
Here’s what I got from this experience…
- The relationship between light and darkness is interesting. It only takes a little light to see in darkness, no matter how much darkness there is.
- Even complete darkness cannot drown out even the smallest and seemingly insignificant bit of light. All it takes is a very small bit of light to help you find your way in the dark.
- I do not like being in complete darkness, or the feeling of not being in control.
- I am a bit claustrophobic.
- I will always bring a light with me if I ever plan on travelling into a cave at any depth.
Scripture tells us in Genesis (1:1-4):
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Think about what God does here. He separates the light from the dark! It’s one of the first judgement calls that God makes – He saw that the light was good! From this we can see the importance of dividing the good from the not so good in our own lives. We are given intelligence to make the distinction between good and bad, and we are expected to exercise this intellect often. God does not define the darkness, but he created it and saw it. However, when he saw the light that he created, he instantly saw that it was good. There is no gray area here…either it is good, or it is not.
God does not say that the darkness was good, only the light. It seems pretty obvious to me that there is a clear distinction between light and dark, between good and bad. Either the cave is dark or it is light, but not at the same time. God desires for us to be aware of this fact and implement the same division in our own lives. We must keep the darkness away from us by shining the light of Christ.
Thinking back to the darkness of the cave with my family on our trip, as soon as the lights were on, darkness retreated! But it doesn’t work the other way around. If there was a light on in the middle of the cave, it would not retreat from any darkness, no matter how much darkness there was in the cave. The light always wins!
We are warned in scripture by the prophet Isaiah about confusing the light with the darkness.
Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
As Catholics, and Christians, we are called to be children of the Light. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. If we are true believers, we know that Jesus is inside each of us. That fact, in and of itself, should give each of us great comfort knowing that any and all darkness will retreat at even the smallest bit of light within us.
Reflect on your relationship with Jesus today. Is there something you can do to increase your connection with Him? If there are any dark areas of your life, think about how you could bring the everlasting light of Jesus Christ into those areas to make the darkness retreat in fear. Ask Jesus to enter FULLY into your life and to bring light to even the darkest areas of your lift today.
We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
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