New Life Begins in the Dark
We spend the first nine months of our lives in utter darkness. There are no tiny fluorescent bulbs beaming from the ceiling of the womb, no fetal flashlights, not even a pinprick of illumination. As vital as our sense of sight will be later on, while in utero our eyes are useless. We’re as good as blind. Yet in that darkness we not only come into being; we grow more in those forty weeks than we will the remainder of our lives. It’s as if God does His best, foundational work on us where there is no light. When we can’t see but He can. When we can’t do anything while He does everything. When we are enveloped by darkness, blind, and helpless, God is busy at work to mold and shape us into babies who eventually come squalling into this big, bright world.
New life begins in the dark. So it always has. When God created this world, it swam in the amniotic fluid of a cosmic sea, with darkness over the surface of the deep. No twinkling stars, no blinding sun, no soft moonlight bathing the world. Just blackness. Similarly, when a seed is planted in the earth, the soil is its womb. There, in that unlit dirt, it will expand and rise toward the light that beckons it upward.
When God makes babies, when He creates worlds, when He sows seed, He does his foundational work in the darkness, where no light shines. And what do we do? The first chance we get, once we’re in the light, we do our damnedest to undo everything that God has done.
The rays of the sun illumine a world where we can see more clearly what we want, who stands in our way, and how we can best manipulate, gladhand, or shame them into helping us get it. When all the bulbs are burning brightly, men can more easily ogle the eye-candy at the office to feed their porn-worthy daydreams. And, really, what good is our charity if done in darkness, where no one can see us, where no one can praise our generous hearts, and give us the reward of self-congratulatory righteousness we were hoping for? Thank goodness for light, for without it we’d find it hard to use our keyboards to belittle others on social media, to flex our superior muscles of orthodoxy, and to showcase the façade of our make-believe lives in a desperate attempt to seek affirmation in “likes” and “shares.”
Light is the sinner’s great enabler. When we are enveloped by light, seeing, and self-sufficient, we are busy at work to mold and shape ourselves into adults who can royally screw up their lives in this big, bright world.
And that’s why our Father is constantly pushing us back into the womb, reburying the seed of our broken lives in unlit soil, ushering us again and again into the darkness of our original creation. Repentance is redarkness. Seeing we do not see, so God blinds us. When we are in darkness, unseeing, helpless, surrounded by nothing we can do, our Father does everything. He begins anew the ongoing recreation of our lives.
When God hung on the cross, three hours of darkness eclipsed our world. It was Genesis 1 all over again. A new creation awaited its birth. Darkness was over the face of the Christ. The Creator swam in a sea of His own blood. That is where our Father puts us. He puts us on the cross with His Son. We are nailed to His love. We swim in His blood. We gasp and die with Him there. Helpless in the Helper. Dead in the Life-Giver.
Our new lives begin in the dark, in the death of Christ, and our own deaths in Him. Then into that darkness, as at the beginning, God speaks, “Let there be light. Let the light of my Son’s Easter dawn break over the tomb’s horizon. And let sinners arise in Him.” And we do. Dear God, we do. We rise in Christ as new people. Not reformed people, not bettered people, but utterly new creations in Christ. Our royally screwed up lives are left hanging on the bloody cross of the King. We are born anew as children of God, bathed in the light of His grace. And we can’t mess it up because He has done it all. We can’t ruin our salvation because we had nothing to do with it. It is a pure, perfect gift we cannot choose or make ourselves worthy to receive. We are simply gifted with Jesus. Nailed with Him to the cross with the spikes of baptismal water, raised with Him by the power of the Spirit, we are brand spanking new creations in the Christ who makes all things new.