When Darkness Is Good  

Genesis 1:4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 

The universe was born as a pair, not as “the universe,” but “the heavens” and “the earth.”  Here again God sets up two spheres for the light and for the dark.  The darkness is not bad in contrast to the “good” of the light any more than a musical pause is bad in a musical score.  We think of the notes themselves as music, but the rests are just as important to the piece as a whole.  The light invites activity and the dark invites calm and reflection–the outward focus and the inward focus–and both are vital to our well-being and the good of the earth.

The very universe cries out for us to stop working, setting each day’s bounds, for without proper boundaries, we will burn out or we will become automatons, cranking out work without the heart that undergirds and directs it.  Here again we are invited into a life of faith, leaving the work in God’s hands as we draw apart to refresh and recharge ourselves.  For no work is ever complete, there is always more to do, but obsessive doing steals away the resources for being, shrivels up our lifeline to grace.  We stop looking for it, expecting it, depending on it, or welcoming it.  Few things block grace so effectively as incessant work.

It is hard to get to know anyone, even yourself, even God, in the middle of a busy day.  It is in the hallowed time separated from doing and focused on being when we can find our true selves and the true other: “Be still and know that I am God.”  But even a time of reflection can be wasted if we do not find a way to our true hearts.  The day’s end is an invitation, but not a promise.  The grace of God needs access to our inner selves to do its work of discovery, insight, and healing.  He comes to us “in the cool of the evening” to guide us into all that is good for us.

God, I am so quick to depend on myself, on my plans and efforts.  I struggle to even understand what living by faith means—does faith pay my rent or land me a job?  My default assumption is that trying harder gets me ahead in life.  That notion keeps failing, but I keep reverting to it because I don’t see any alternative.  Teach me how to live by faith and not fear, to depend on your grace and not my control.

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