The necessity of darkness

I’m going to make a claim here:

The best kind of story is a horror story.

Now, I’m not necessarily adhering myself to this claim…just throwing it out there, and you can do with it what you want.  Most people instantly reject it, and the others of you assume I’m going to launch-in with some Stephen King quote again.

Well, the second group would be right.  But I’ll save that for later.

Here’s where I’m going with this horror story claim: the more I read and the more I live, the more I find reality in the darkness.  Not submerged in darkness, but surrounded by it.  As much as we cringe to talk about it, darkness is everywhere we go, and we’d be hard-pressed to avoid it.  It’s a part of our unfortunate, fallen world, and while we should never love or obsess over it, I think it’s right to look it straight in the eyes.  And do you want to know what I see when I look there?

God.

In all his glory and brilliance and shine.
I do not believe He is the darkness or that He somehow enjoys seeing us fall into it or even that He designs it.  Not at all.  Rather, we have to look so far into the depths of darkness to find His shine in its midst—because He is there.

The passage that got me thinking about this is found in Exodus 20:21, when Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  The Bible says, “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”  He was in the midst of that darkness and still is.  He’s not using it to terrorize us or harnessing it for power, but illuminating Himself through it.

I believe I can see God’s beauty more brilliantly because I live in a world caked in darkness.  It’s why jewelers show you shining diamonds against a black cloth and why we turn off lights in our house when the Christmas tree is lit.  As much as I love the daylight (lunchtime is my favorite time of day—and not just for the meal), I would grow desensitized to it if I didn’t have night.
…Because I can never stare straight into the sun like I can stare at it’s reflection on the moon to my heart’s content—just as I can stare openly and in awe at God’s light when He’s in the midst of darkness.

And this is why there’s a chance horror stories are the best kind.  Their authors breach that part of our soul that we rarely let out of its cage: the idea that we are completely incapable.  We are utterly and completely weak compared to our fallen world, the forces against us, and the fearsome power of our wonderful God.  These stories unravel our confidences and, in turn, unleash God’s beauty.  They are real.

So I guess you’ve been waiting long enough.  Now it’s time for a Stephen King quote:

“I’ve always tried to contrast that bright, white light
of real goodness or Godliness against evil.”

Simple.  It’s a sharp contrast, but that’s what makes it magnificent.  Without understanding the thick evil from which we’ve been saved, we miss the brilliance of our Savior.  It could be argued that all good stories are horror stories, presenting a dark situation and ultimate deliverance from it.  The Bible might be the best horror story around.

So pick it up.  Check out the not-so-pretty stories that still heighten Christ’s goodness.  Read Revelation.  Read Job.  And check out some other books too (obviously I’d suggest SK’s).  It doesn’t even have to be “dark” but maybe just something bold, something different.  Something that doesn’t feel like playing-it-safe.

I often try to avoid this natural bent towards play-it-safe books and instead choose to read everything under the sun with the knowledge that I am safe—that “heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate” (John Milton, Paradise Lost).  I’m confident of where I sit in His grace, sure of His gift from the past, and hopeful for the future.

So this is the advice I’ll leave you with, in the words of my dear Mr. King again, from the afterward in Full Dark, No Stars.
You’ll need a flashlight, or a lantern, or a Savior for this one:

“Here’s something else I believe:
if you’re going into a very dark place,
then you should take a bright light,
and shine it on everything.”

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