It's strange to me how paralyzing darkness can be.
Normal, everyday sounds that I pay no mind to in the light become amplified at night. The clicking of pipes within the walls, the popping sound of ductwork expanding and contracting from temperature changes, or the scraping of branches against the windows from a sudden burst of wind become key players in my mind’s tricks.
In familiarity and routine activities, I rarely focus on these sounds. But, if my environment changes, my mind analyzes everything I hear. I convince myself that I’m suddenly no longer safe because the lights are off.
But what conjures these feelings? Am I afraid of darkness itself or do I abhor what darkness brings out in me? It’s that darkness highlights how dependent I am on my own senses: my eyes.
Darkness removes what I find comfort, stability, and safety in. It highlights what I don’t know or can’t see in fullness: the unknown. Darkness has no bearing on my thoughts when I hold confidence in normalcy and feel comfortable to act in my own strength, but insecurity bubbles when I’m placed in the unfamiliar and can’t depend on self-reliance.
The Israelites faced the darkness of the unknown when it was time to seize the land of Canaan.
In Numbers 13, God commands Moses to send men to survey the territory and to evaluate the people that dwelt there, the condition of the land, and how fortified the city was. The blessings of the land were beyond what they could have imagined - a land “flowing with milk and honey,” and with fruit so large that two men carried it on a pole between them.
But, when Caleb rallied the people to prepare to take possession of the land and claim what God had promised, the men who accompanied him on the trip panicked. They told stories to the Israelites of the size of the giants that dwelt in Canaan.
Fear paralyzed God’s people: fear of what they had not seen yet and couldn’t imagine how they would overcome. The fear was so crippling that they forgot what miracles they had already witnessed God perform. Instead, the Israelites chose to grumble against Moses and Aaron and insisted that they return to Egypt. Fear caused them to lose perspective of the blessings and gift of what was to come.
To the Israelites, fear of the unknown was stopping them from stepping into God’s calling on their lives. But why was Caleb so confident when the others shook at the idea? Could he somehow see better through the darkness? Did he not hold the same trepidation? Was he that much braver than the other men?
Caleb rose to the challenge because of his perspective. He knew that they were no match to the size of the giants and would never be able to rely on their physical strength to stand victoriously. Caleb’s strength came from full surrender to God. Just as darkness highlights our inabilities, Caleb understood that God allowed them to glimpse into the darkness so that His power could be shown greater through their inability. Fearing the unknown made the Israelites fully aware of their dependence on Him. Caleb understood that he only had a snapshot of the story, and God’s work in and through the Israelites would bring about a panoramic view of the Lord’s goodness.
Caleb chose to fill his fears with God’s promises and reminders of miracles he had already seen the Lord perform. He didn’t allow himself to entertain fear or sit in worry on his companions’ stories, but encouraged the people to move towards God’s call. He kept an eternal perspective because he understood that struggle and dependency were part of God’s refinement process. Caleb knew that there would be giants, but he also saw the size of the fruit and knew of the blessings that were to come.
Darkness highlights the vulnerability that we don’t think about in the light.
Scripture shows us that those who face darkness are taught to depend on God. It’s easy to live in a state of self-reliance and comfort, but a change in our perspective allows us to walk confidently into what the Lord has called.
I don’t know what God may be calling you to—whether singleness, marriage, parenting, schooling, or a change in career—or what fears linger in the shadows of your mind like sickness, loss, or suffering, but I do know that successfully walking in God’s calling is birthed from dependency on Him.
Darkness doesn’t always change our circumstances, as much as highlight our vulnerability, and need for God; the darkness in our lives shouldn’t pull out fear, but surrender to God and eager expectation to see how His glory will be shown through our willingness.
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