This Lenten season, we hope you have decided to worship with us day by day, meditating on the paradoxes that are the Gospel. These paradoxes are laid out beautifully in Arthur Bennet’s Valley of Vision prayer and if you haven’t already, you can join us in our worship by using our printable Lent journal and following these instructions.
Using the prayer, we divided each week into different postures, or attitudes as a means of contemplating the gospel.
This last week was Posture 1: Your Light in my Darkness.
So many things about this week’s attitude comfort me.
Today is a day, like so many other days in my walk, that I have felt myself residing in the Valley. There, feeling hemmed in by my sin and darkness, looking up at the stars, feeling far away from redemption and God. This prayer reminds me, that Valley walking is a normal part of our life, yet, we must not simply reside there and wallow, but look up to the stars and notice the light, welcome it, receive it. To go through the valley (our sin and darkness) and emerge, is the daily death and resurrection aspect of our Faith walk.
I confess, that it has been frustrating for me as I grow in my Faith, to feel that in certain aspects of my sin nature, desires and heart, that I am somehow getting “worse.” I often find myself introspectively in this “valley” seemingly so far away from the follower I want to be and feeling more creature than creation. As I become increasingly aware of my sin, this idea of His Light in my darkness, helps me to remember:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
He gets the glory when our sin is revealed, and when we let it be conquered by His Light. We may want to wallow in the depths, but we must not reside there in the shadows of those mountains, instead, we must hem ourselves in by the knowledge of our Savior’s love.
This paradox of our sanctification and the tension (if you will) between His light and our darkness, is one of the most beautiful aspects of being saved:
“Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.”
Being in relationship with the God of the universe and also being a desperately depraved person, is not always an easy journey. The God of all hope, who called us to himself, does this amazing thing in us as he sanctifies us and brings us along the path to True Life. He reveals hidden darkness in our hearts.
We as Christ followers simultaneously are aware of the darkness of our hearts and are also forgiven for it, covered by the blood. Forgiven for the wrongs He is convicting us of and given the victory before we even go into battle. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. His light has swallowed up our sin in a strange and paradoxal transaction. By His sacrifice, we are considered pure in Him, yet our hearts are not pure. I think the key phrase here is “in Him, ” to be in Christ is to be swallowed up by his goodness, indeed, enveloped. Both forgiven, and yet still struggling.
This may present a problem for the believer because we have His victory over sin, yet still sin. We are enveloped by His purity but still sense the darkness declaring war within us. The best way I can understand it, is if I think of my heart as a sanctification truffle. As mysterious as this beautiful truth is, it may only be a real problem if we forget the work of the cross and choose instead to wallow in the valley, overwhelmed by our sin and forgetting the outrageous and undeserved sacrifice made for us. We wallow, when we forget that He rose from the grave giving us His Light, His life and victory over sin and death.
This is true Hope.
By the Spirit, He lets His light shine in the darkness and reveals an aspect we need to deal with. Then, step by baby step, we turn our sin over to God. Again and again we submit our darkness to His light. This He allows us to do after He has already overcome it and has already given us the victory.
So brothers and sisters, He already paid the price, so let us blissfully partake in that overwhelming and all encompassing light and love, especially while we walk through the valley.