“Post Tenebras Lux.” It is a latin phrase that means, “after darkness, light.” Historically, this phrase was one of the “rallying cries” of the protestant reformation. The idea was that the church had experienced great “darkness” because the great Biblical Gospel truth of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone had been blurred, diminished, and in a sense, lost. But in God’s providence, there was a fresh return to focusing on this truth. The Light of the Gospel had shone forth afresh. Thus, “after darkness light.” This principle is not only true in Church History but also in the pages of scripture. There are many biblical examples of God allowing long periods of darkness followed by a “bursting forth” of light. For example, the Hebrews were enslaved for 400 years before their deliverance. There was 400 years of silence from God between the end of the Old Testament revelation and the coming of Jesus. It seems that this pattern of “after darkness, light” is a way that God deals with mankind. There is a long predetermined period of darkness, followed by great light. Indeed, when Jesus began His ministry, (a bursting forth of Light!) He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:15 ESV). Did you see that? The time had to be “fulfilled.”
I have been recovering for the last five and half months after falling out of a plane with no parachute. Fortunately the plane was parked….as in “on the ground.” I dropped about 8-10 feet and broke a disk in my back and smacked my head pretty hard. I spent a little over a week in an ICU with a “traumatic brain injury.” I like to tell people, “I”m a little messed up in the head, but I was like that before I fell out of a plane!” I digress. All of these circumstances have been difficult and a type of “darkness.” I find myself asking, “God, why did this happen?” and “God what are you doing?” and probably the most difficult (for me anyway) “God, what’s gonna happen next?” Can you relate? But that’s not to say that it hasn’t been good. Friends, family, and God’s people have been an incredible source of comfort from God. My wife, Melanie, has risen to the occasion and works hard to provide for our family while I can’t. But perhaps the greatest blessings have been spiritual lessons that have served to move me along in the sanctification process. Here’s a few…
#1 Time in the darkness exposes your heart idols. John Calvin once wrote, “the human heart is a factory of idols.” He means that our hearts are always producing idols that we run to for “worship” and comfort in substitute of the one true God. Think about it, where do you go when things get tough? Over the last 5 months I’ve seen my waste line grow. I keep blaming it on all the kind church people who bring “high calorie” delicious casseroles to the house, but the reality is that I love food and indeed it is an idol of my heart from which I need repentance! Do I truly desire God above all things?
#2 Time in the darkness refines ones sense of purpose. Psalm 90:12 says “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Though, I never feared that I would die from my injuries, falling out of a plane gave me a growing awareness of my mortality. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about death over the last 5 months. Largely this has driven me to consider my God given purpose while I’m on this earth and given me a sense of resolve to live every moment with great intentionality toward that purpose.
#3 Time in the darkness exposes selfish human independence from God. I have to admit that I’m a pretty independent person. I want things my way and, at least, a “perceived” freedom to do what I want. Let me illustrate. Perhaps the hardest part of being in the hospital with a brain injury was that I couldn’t have anything to drink for several days. Fluid consumption causes the brain to swell after a brain injury and thus nothing was given to me to drink. One day in the hospital, someone left most of a 20oz coke on the table next to my bed. I stared at it for a long time. It looked really good. I tried to reach for it but it was too far away. Finally, with a broken back and all, I ripped out my IV cords and somehow manage to get to that coke. I sucked it down as fast as I could just before nurses burst into the room to see why the alarm was going off. I was quickly given sedatives and I fell asleep. When I woke up, my arms were restrained to the bed. Let me tell you…that was not fun. I couldn’t move. It seems to me that God uses “prison like” experiences to teach us to be dependent on Him!
#4 Time in the darkness forms love for the light in your heart. Need I say more?
There are other things that God taught me but these are the “big” ones. I don’t fully see the consummation of light after this darkness just yet, but I’m learning to wait patiently and trust that my God has plans and a purpose.
Until next time………Post Tenebras Lux