Posted in darkness, jesus, sin

‘It’s a darkness that claws at your sanity…’

By Elizabeth Prata

Darkness is a primal thing. No one likes it. No one seeks it. We think we have beaten our ancient fear of it, but it is only the fragile light bulb that makes us think we are less primitive than we are.

Darkness is disorienting, you cannot see the ground ahead of you nor the prey sneaking up on you. As a child, the prey is the alligator living under the bed. As an adult, the darkness is a thing to be laughed at in the light and a thing to be dreaded while in the dark.

For generations and centuries, man hated to see the sun set, having no candle to ward off the night spirits. Even with a candle or kerosene lamp, its flickering glow seemed too meager to combat the oppressive night.

Sailors for millennia will tell you that the night watch from 2-4 am is the most chilling. Terrifying is the night, especially if there is no moon and the stars are obscured. Samuel Taylor Coleridge captured this in the stanza about sailing at night in his famous Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

The River Styx is the Greek mythological river that separates the outer world from the underworld. It is a kingdom lorded over by Hades, and guarded by Cerberus the three headed dog. Charon is the ferryboatman who brings the lost souls across the river to their eternal doom. The term ‘stygian darkness’ comes from the Styx.

In Stories of the Ships, author Lewis R. Freeman described ‘the darkness you could lean against’ … so apt!

I was in total darkness once. I do not mean the dark night, or even the dark when I was sailing, though that is very dark. I mean under-the-earth kind of dark where there is no spot of light nor any particle of brightness nor any beam of luminosity…just oppressive dark. It was when we toured the Queen Copper Mine in Bisbee Arizona. The tour takes you down under the earth and as you go along, they explain about mining. Sitting in the little rail car, the tracks clacking, we rattled further and further away from the sun, from the warm light, into gloom that closed in upon us with the earth.

[I]f thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

~Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil/Chapter IV

When we got to the bottom, the tour guide told us to turn off your headlamps, and for 5 to 8 seconds we sit in a darkness so black is it alive. It suffocates, and permeates the brain to the extent that you want to scream and scrape your way out. It is a darkness that is palpable, suffocating you with its wild dementia. It is a darkness that claws at your sanity. When the lights come back on your mind relaxes at the soothing balm that brightness brings.

In darkness such as this, your eye has no opportunity to grasp a single detail, and instead, the mind is floating as a raft upon the darkness, free-wheeling and unhinged from the anchoring light.

The Bible frequently uses light and dark to contrast truths. John 12:35 says “So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; also, the one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.

Sin is darkness. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

The power of satan is darkness. (Acts 26:18)

The LORD spoke much in the Old Testament about the Day of Darkness. His judgment brings darkness.

“Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18).

But Jesus IS THE LIGHT!!

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

How wonderful we can follow Him, a Light that never goes off and never dims. We will never walk in darkness if we follow Him. He knows the way, because He IS the Way!

If you do not follow Him, O, my heart aches in sadness to say, but there the person will remain in outer darkness all their lives throughout eternity. A person who dies in their sin, will remain in that clawing, palpable, screaming darkness forever- in hell.

Hell is a place of outer darkness (Matthew 22:13) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12). I dare not even try to imagine the stygian darkness of the hellish place Outer Darkness is. That it is named for its very absence of light indicates how dark it is, indeed.

But people, the precious Light has come!

“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36)

What an inexpressible joy to know we will have the Light, we will be in Light for all eternity, pure, bright glory Light, brighter than the sun and shining forth from the face that looked down upon his people and took pity on us, with compassion died for us, rose again to minister to us, and saved us from the terrible darkness.

EPrata photo
Posted in darkness, encouragement, john 1:5

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not

By Elizabeth Prata

Podcast link below

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone 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)

EPrata photo

Does it feel to you that the darkness has grown so dark it’s unmanageable, unalterable, unassailable? After the Supreme Court allowed homosexual marriage…after closing churches due to Covid but allowing riots, after the hypocrisy of the government with mandating masks for us but not for them…all that and more…does it feel dark to you? It does to me.

Does it feel to you like the darkness is deep and your own light puny against it?

Does it feel like there are simply no solid Christian around you with whom you can commiserate? Or that there is not a good local church in which you can even half-way trust the teachings from the pulpit or Sunday School? Or if there is a Christian around you, that he or she is flying in a different direction than you are?

It is not so! None of it!

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8b-10)

It seems that secular society has segmented into ever smaller bits and groups and factions as each group seeks its own agenda. No one is for anyone else and all are against each other. Yet for Christians, this is the opposite of the truth. Paul wrote,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

We are one in Him, aligned into one Body for one common purpose- to glorify Jesus. Society splinters as sin rises yet Jesus keeps His Bride whole and united. Stark contrast. We might feel all over the place, alone in the darkness with only a puny light to shine, but we are One in Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

A lot of ‘ones’ there:

One Body
One Spirit
One Hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God

You might feel like a little, ineffective firefly, but no matter where you are, remember that you are not in Light, you ARE the Light, because you are one with Jesus, who is the Light. So don’t fear any ineffectiveness of your light in this great darkness. You and I were darkness itself but when we came into Jesus we came into His light.

But now are ye light in the Lord; either in, or by the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of men, from whom all spiritual light comes; or by the Lord the Spirit, by whom the eyes of their understandings were enlightened, to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, in heart and life; the insufficiency of their own righteousness and moral virtues, to justify them before God; and the true and right way of righteousness, life and salvation by Christ; and to have some light into the several doctrines of the Gospel, and even a glimpse of the invisible glories and realities of another world: and this light is so great, that they are not only said to be enlightened, but to be light itself; and this they have not of, and from themselves, but the Lord; and therefore should walk as children of light; not in sins, which are works of darkness, but in faith, truth, and holiness. Gill’s Exposition of Eph 5:8.

We are one with Him, who is this:

Deborah does not prove women can rule. Women cannot be pastors, period The End Time Blog Podcast

Alan Hunter's video: Does Deborah Prove That Women Can Rule? (video, 6-minutes) GotQuestions: What does the Bible say about women pastors? Al Mohler: Women Pastors, Women Preachers Voddie Baucham: On Women Preaching (video, 9-minutes) This episode is also available as a blog post: https://the-end-time.org/2021/10/25/deborah-does-not-prove-women-can-rule-women-cannot-be-pastors-period/
  1. Deborah does not prove women can rule. Women cannot be pastors, period
  2. I’m suspicious of para-church organizations. Here’s why
  3. There’s another way to bear false witness
  4. Tribulation Inflation- I’m beginning to see how easily it can happen
  5. The Permanence of an Electrolux, and waste
Posted in darkness, encouragement, john 1:5

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone 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)

EPrata photo

Does it feel to you that the darkness has grown so dark it’s unmanageable, unalterable, unassailable? I read someone’s comment that 6/26 is the American Christian’s 9/11. That was the day that the Supreme Court of the United States legalized homosexual marriage in all 50 states, on a ruling that the Justice dissenters said was not founded on law but on personal will, foreboding ill for the Republic, for Christians, and for marriage itself.

After that day did it feel to you like the darkness was deep and your own light puny against it?

Does it feel like there are simply no solid Christian around you with whom you can commiserate? Or that there is not a good local church in which you can even half-way trust the teachings from the pulpit or Sunday School? Or if there is a Christian around you, that he or she is flying in a different direction than you are?

It is not so! None of it!

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8b-10)

It seems that secular society has segmented into ever smaller bits and groups and factions as each group seeks its own agenda. No one is for anyone else and all are against each other. Yet for Christians, this is the opposite of the truth. Paul wrote,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

We are one in Him, aligned into one Body for one common purpose- to glorify Jesus. Society splinters as sin rises yet Jesus keeps His Bride whole and united. Stark contrast. We might feel all over the place, alone in the darkness with only a puny light to shine, but we are One in Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

A lot of ‘ones’ there:

One Body
One Spirit
One Hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God

ONE

You might feel like a little, ineffective firefly, but no matter where you are, remember that you are not in Light, you ARE the Light, because you are one with Jesus, who is the Light. So don’t fear any ineffectiveness of your light in this great darkness. You and I were darkness itself but when we came into Jesus we came into His light.

But now are ye light in the Lord; either in, or by the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of men, from whom all spiritual light comes; or by the Lord the Spirit, by whom the eyes of their understandings were enlightened, to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, in heart and life; the insufficiency of their own righteousness and moral virtues, to justify them before God; and the true and right way of righteousness, life and salvation by Christ; and to have some light into the several doctrines of the Gospel, and even a glimpse of the invisible glories and realities of another world: and this light is so great, that they are not only said to be enlightened, but to be light itself; and this they have not of, and from themselves, but the Lord; and therefore should walk as children of light; not in sins, which are works of darkness, but in faith, truth, and holiness. Gill’s Exposition of Eph 5:8.

We are one with Him, who is this:

Posted in darkness, jesus, sin

‘It’s a darkness that claws at your sanity…’

Darkness is a primal thing. No one likes it. No one seeks it. We think we have beaten our ancient fear of it, but it is only the fragile light bulb that makes us think we are less primitive than we are.

Darkness is disorienting, you cannot see the ground ahead of you nor the prey sneaking up on you. As a child, the prey is the alligator living under the bed. As an adult, the darkness is a thing to be laughed at in the light and a thing to be dreaded while in the dark.

For generations and centuries, man hated to see the sun set, having no candle to ward off the night spirits. Even with a candle or kerosene lamp, its flickering glow seemed too meager to combat the oppressive night.

Sailors for millennia will tell you that the night watch from 2-4 am is the most chilling. Terrifying is the night, especially if there is no moon and the stars are obscured. Samuel Taylor Coleridge captured this in the stanza about sailing at night in his famous Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.
We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

George Grie ‘Final Frontier Voyager’ Wikimedia commons

 Night sailing is vertiginous, captured here in Grie’s painting. At every moment one believes the edge of the world looms and we will be pitched into a void from which there is no escape.

The River Styx is the Greek mythological river that separates the outer world from the underworld. It is a kingdom lorded over by Hades, and guarded by Cerberus the three headed dog. Charon is the ferryboatman who brings the lost souls across the river to their eternal doom. The term ‘stygian darkness’ comes from the Styx.

Here in the book Stories of the Ships, by Lewis R. Freeman, we read a description of a storm at night-

Riise3

“The ship was reeling through the blackness of the pit when I clambered to the deck after dinner, so that the driving spray and ice-needles struck the face before one saw them by even the thousandth of a second. The darkness was such as one almost never encounters ashore, and it was some time before I accustomed myself to close my eyes against the unseen missiles (when turning to windward) without deliberately telling myself to do so in advance.”

“Into the Stygian pall the vivid golden triangles from the signal searchlights on the bridge flashed like the stab of a flaming sword. One instant the darkness was almost palpable enough to lean against; the next, the silhouette of funnels and foretop pricked into life, but only to be quenched again before the eye had time to fix a single detail.”

“Darkness you could lean against” … so apt!

I was in total darkness once. I do not mean the dark night, or even the dark when sailing, though that is very dark. I mean under-the-earth kind of dark where there is no spot of light nor any particle of brightness nor any beam of luminosity…just oppressive dark. It was when we toured the Queen Copper Mine in Bisbee Arizona. The tour takes you down under the earth and as you go along, they explain about mining. When we got to the bottom, the tour guide says to turn off your headlamps, and for 5 to 8 seconds we sit in a darkness so black is it alive. It suffocates, and permeates the brain to the extent that you want to scream and scrape your way out. It is a darkness that is palpable, suffocating you with its wild dementia. It is a darkness that claws at your sanity. When the lights come back on your mind relaxes at the soothing balm that brightness brings.

In darkness such as this, your eye has no opportunity to grasp a single detail, and instead, the mind is floating as a raft upon the darkness, free-wheeling and unhinged from the anchoring light.

In this NY Times review of an art installation, Darkness Visible, and Palpable, the author wrote,

“Usually, when we see something, we see it in advance: we know we can approach it; we can assess it as we move forward. Sight helps shape our sense of the future.

Here we have a different experience of time. Sounds help us anticipate, but in this strange, darkened space, even voices seem to float, positionless, in a void. We don’t know what is about to happen; we aren’t sure where we have been; and it is a problem finding out just where we are. No wonder horror movies rely on darkness: Anything can take shape in front of our eyes, and we would hardly know it. The world becomes immaterial in one respect but all too solid with dangers in another.”

Dore’s illustration in Dante’s Inferno,
Gates of Hell, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’

Studies have been done. Darkness does things to us. Participants in an experiment were put into a dimmed room. Their behavior became more dishonest than the participants in the well-lit room. In another study, participants were situated in a well-lit room with another person, except then they were given sunglasses. Participants wearing sunglasses acted more dishonestly than participants without.
Read more about “What darkness does to the mind” at The Atlantic.

The bible frequently uses light and dark to contrast truths. Ecclesiastes 2:14b says that the fool walks in darkness. John 12:35b says “Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.”

The way that darkness is used here is that movement in the absence of light could cause self-injury or harm to others. You walk slowly when it’s dark, you don’t run. That is because you do not know where danger is. Pulpit Commentary says, “they will drift over the fathomless unknown into infinite and endless suspense. When the Light of the world is spurned, … humanity and the world have no goal set before them; there is no end at which they aim – no mind or will to guide the progress of mankind.”

Sin is darkness. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

The power of satan is darkness. (Acts 26:18)

The LORD spoke much in the Old Testament about the Day of Darkness. His judgment brings darkness.

“Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18).

“Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom.” (Jeremiah 13:16)

But Jesus IS THE LIGHT!!

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

How wonderful we can follow Him, a Light that never goes on and never dims. We will never walk in darkness if we follow Him. He knows the way, because He IS the Way!

If you do not follow Him, O, my heart aches in sadness to say, but there the person will remain in outer darkness all their lives throughout eternity. A person who dies in their sin, will remain in that clawing, palpable, screaming darkness forever- in hell.

Hell is a place of outer darkness (Matthew 22:13) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).

People, the precious Light has come!

“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36)