I’m Afraid Of The Dark

As a kid, I struggled with the whole concept of darkness. Night lights were my best friend and constant companion.  It was a necessary accessory to insure against things that always go bump in the night.  The childhood adventure of spending the night at a friend’s house required that the nearest bathroom door be propped open to provide that comforting glow…and to serve as a guide should nature call in the middle of the night (bringing your own personal night light would be considered very uncool).

Over time, the adult expectation is that this fear will fade and we will realize that the darkness is actually not something to be feared, but it can even be embraced. There is nothing better than blacking out all the shades of the bedroom of your home or during a hotel stay. In thick darkness, you sleep until no more sleep seems possible.  I crave those nights of sleep on a more regular basis.

Today I realized that I’m still afraid of the dark.  A lot of us are.

We struggle with needing to be recognized, feeling significant and wondering if the glow of the spotlight will hit us.  For many, our roles or calling in life has led to places where the light shines brightly.  In many cases, perhaps too bright.  As someone who has a small amount of notoriety and is sometimes recognized by people in public places,  I realize the light is a dangerous side effect of serving in a large church and being a person who is “seen”.  As someone who literally stands, “in the light” on a regular basis, I know that light can be addictive and dangerous.

The light lies.

I constantly wrestle with my fear of the “dark”.  Do people know who I am? What if I somehow become irrelevant?

The voice inside my head can whisper thoughts that breeds insecurity and over-confidence.  Insecurity that forgets my position in Christ and his ultimate love whether I’m known by anyone.  Over-confidence that places trust in my own decisions, abilities, leadership, giftings, and charisma.

I am not alone.

Francis Chan suddenly resigned his church early last year.  Part of the reason behind his decision was summed up in the following  interview with CNN:

“When there is a large constituency, there’s a lot of voices,” he said. “It makes you arrogant or it makes you want to shoot yourself. When thousands of people tell you what they think, how can I be quick to listen, like the Bible says? I don’t want to be a jerk and tune everyone out. At the same time you, can’t love every single person and answer them.”

So after lots of prayer and soul searching, Chan decided it was best to leave the church, country, and Internet behind to focus on serving others one-on-one.

Today there was news concerning Ted Haggard. His much publicized “issues” stripped him of the spotlight he had been living in as a pastor of a large church in Colorado and leader of a large Christian organization.  The darkness was a necessary place for him. It was where God could have led him to re-discover the truth about himself without the limelight. It must have been a scary place for him to be.

I watched him slowly emerge, observed his appearances on talk shows and the obligatory book tour that followed.
The light was shouting out to him.  He probably had missed it.

Now he is doing his own reality show. He’s shouting for the lumens to be increased and cranked up brighter. “I’m over here,” he shouts.
It seems that Ted is still afraid of the dark.

Our fear of being in the dark causes us to need the light, crave the light…to absorb the light. But by always standing in the light, we miss what God wants to teach us in the obscurity of the darkness.

There is an alternative.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’ words in  Matt. 5:16 this way:
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to BE LIGHT, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”

God’s light reflecting FROM US, not ON US.  And when it does, the world is a more colorful place.

I’ll leave the night light on for you.



~ by leecoate on January 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “I’m Afraid Of The Dark”

  1. Great article Lee! So glad to have you writing again! Keep it up!

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