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 discernment, theology

Secrecy is a delusion

By Elizabeth Prata

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance. (Psalm 90:8)

We all have secret sins. Some of them we knowingly perpetrate and feel guilty about. Other sins, we consider “acceptable”. A few, like David, we sin without even knowing we’re sinning. (Psalm 19:12).

When we sin and we know were sinning, we do it in the dark. The dark could be actual (adultery, porn, that certain movie or tv show, that gallon of ice cream at 2am…), or the dark could be metaphorical (lusting after a coworker in he darkness of our heart, for example). Continue reading “Secrecy is a delusion”

Posted in encouragement, theology

Night Passages: A Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. (Isaiah 59:10).

I lived on a sailboat for two years. We made a journey from Maine to the Bahamas and back, twice. We mainly followed the Intracoastal Waterway, a series of connected rivers, bays, channels, and canals that allow marine traffic up and down the coast without having to sail the open sea. Though, we did make passages “outside” too.

Sometimes we made overnight passages on the outside. If we wanted to get to a place more quickly. or as quickly as one can in a sailboat that goes 5 mph lol, we’d hop outside and make a 24 or 48 hour continuous passage. This was a carefully considered decision, because we did not have self-steering nor did we have GPS. Night watches meant you stood in the cockpit, which was open to the elements, and with hands on the wheel for hours at a time, you steered, maintained course, and watched, peering into the gloomy dark. It was full hands-on.

Night passages are strange. You’re on the open ocean, but it’s busier than you’d think. You’re in a shipping lane, so often you’d see distant red or green navigation lights on another boat or a ship passing a mile or two away. There are whales below, who usually know not to breach up under the boat but you still hope they don’t. There could be a lost container that fell off a ship lurking just under the surface ready to sink you. This has actually happened to other mariners. A floating log or telephone pole ready to impale the boat and it goes down.

The ocean looks like a wide-open space but when you’re going along under sail at a full gallop over the bounding main into the dark, it’s disconcerting.

If you happen to be in a room you’re not familiar with and the lights go out, you grope your way around. You carefully place your feet, you wait for your eyes to adjust, you feel your way along the wall. You stagger and totter, unbalanced and unsure.

Do you stride confidently around in the dark? No, of course not.

But that is what the boat did, with us on it. And we never knew we were lost, blindly stumbling around this earth at the sufferance of our God who was angry with us every day. Our spiritual blindness was unknown to us and we strode around the earth as if we owned it, not even knowing we would fall into a pit.

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. (Proverbs 4:19).

But if anyone walks at night, he will stumble, because he has no light. (John 11:10).

Yet,

If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (John 11:9).

How refreshing it was to spot the lighthouse! When we saw that bright beam slicing through the dark, we were relieved. We knew we were about to be safe, the light had come.

How much MORE am I now safe, now relieved, that I have the eternal Light. His Light is in me as the Holy Spirit, and around me as  fellow believers, and before me as His statutes and ways. The Light is above me as my future destination in glory, and I will dwell in the Light forever.

The lost know (deep down) they are lost. The unsaved know (deep down) they are in the dark. The mysteries of the visible universe are present before them, as it was to me, yet we suppress that truth in unrighteousness. It’s heartbreaking to see the lost stride confidently around in their dark, the blind leading the blind, heading for a pit and ignoring our cries and pleas to do the one thing that will open their eyes:

Repent.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15).

Then you once were blind, but now you see. I see the Light now, by His grace, and when my hand reaches out to grope my way, it is His hand that takes me, sustains me, guides me. I have HIS confidence, HIS light. In the darkness no more, my eternal life with Jesus rolls out before me as ocean billows, sparkling, luminous, radiant.

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Posted in prophecy, theology

When is the only time people like the dark?

By Elizabeth Prata

My favorite verses. They have been since I was converted in 2004 and remain so to this day. I like the language of the KJV.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5).

We like the light. When we enter a dark room, what’s the first thing we do? Reach for the light. If a town or city-wide blackout occurs, it’s an emergency. Standing watch in a ship sailing through the inky night, we breathe a sigh of relief when sunrise peeks over the horizon. Bright kitchens sell houses. There is even an interior design job called lighting planner, to help illuminate the home in functional and beautiful ways.

“Ahhh, the light! It’s so much better!” Let’s get a little light on the subject!” we say.

I think everyone would agree with these statements. Everyone loves light; sunlight, tanning bed light, lamp light, candlelight.

Except the lost. They like the darkness.

I switched from speaking literally to speaking metaphorically. Lost folks do not know they are in the dark.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19).

But they sort of do know they are in the dark. Does anyone sit at an internet cafe with their tablet or laptop to watch porn? Do they beat their wives in the restaurant? Do they brazenly steal office supplies in front of everyone? No. Those sins are done in the dark. They love their sins.

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. (John 12:36).

Reach for the Light! Seek the Bright glory of Jesus! Those who prefer the dark will be given outer darkness forever, for the future of those who prefer the dark is to be cast into outer darkness forever!

Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22:13).

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