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Down in the darkness

Down in the darkness

The boy is inconsolable.

I can understand his fear.  I guess that the boy, walking with his father behind me in our group touring the cavern, is around eight or nine years old.  This is probably his first time descending into a dimly lit cave.

It is an alien landscape.  I’m not talking about alien as defined by the goofy television shows of my childhood, though at least one of the formations has the look of a Lost In Space cheesy prop.  Warning, Will Robinson!

 No, the otherworldliness of our surroundings is eerie and mildly menacing with rows of stalactites imitating dragon’s teeth.

But it isn’t until we approach the main cavern hall that the boy loses it.  When our guide mentions that once inside, she’ll turn off all the lights, I hear the fear in the boy’s voice as he asks, “Wait – what’s she gonna do?”

His father explains that it’s no big deal, but as we get closer to the hall, the boy begins to moan and then to cry.

“It’s okay, buddy,” says Dad.  “I’ll be right there.”

Boy: SOB!

“You can sit in my lap!”


The kid is disconsolate.  In the end, father and son leave the big room before the darkness descends, retreating into the presence of the dim light.

Charles Spurgeon understands the power of the dark.  In his sermon, The Child of Light Walking in Darkness, he writes:

Darkness has a terrible power of causing fear—its mystery is an influence creating dread. It is not what we see that we dread so much as that which we do not see and, therefore, exaggerate!

Anyone who has lain awake in the middle of the night knows this to be true.  Spurgeon’s sermon is based on this verse in Isaiah:

“Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God." (Isaiah 50:10)

Spurgeon goes on:

When (His people) walk in darkness, He is with them. And when they have no light, He still beholds them. The Lord is very sensitive to the sorrows of His chosen and very quick to help them. When He finds them walking in darkness, He graciously counsels and advises them, so that He may most effectually help them. 

I notice an interesting phenomenon in the cave.  Small patches of ferns grow under some of the lamps.  I ask about them and am informed that we carry the spores in with us and the light brings them to life.

It reminds me that times of darkness in our lives can still be productive when the Light of World is present.  When, in the words of Isaiah, we rely upon our God.  Think of the victory that Jesus brought out of the pitch-black cavern of the cross.

That victory opened a floodgate of grace.  I know well the loneliness and oppression of dark times when it can be hard to connect to God.  But he is committed to pour his light into any spiritual cavern his children may find themselves in.

Even the darkness will not be dark with him.  (Ps. 139:12)

We never need to fear being left alone in the dark.

Lord, bring your light and your life into our dark places.  We trust in your name, your character, your grace.  And wholly rely on you.

Reader: Were you afraid of the dark when you were a child?  What’s the darkest physical place you’ve ever been?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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