Though I’m not Jewish, I decided that I would participate in Hanukah this year by lighting a candle each night during the 8 days as a way to consider the Light. And so, when a popular television news magazine had a segment on Hanukah, I was intrigued by the story. It included several interviews with various individuals who celebrated the ancient holiday. It was interesting to hear their stories, but as the reporter brought his article to a close, he concluded with this:
“It’s time to clear away the darkness and make room for the lights.”
What? Clear away the darkness? Something is not right, here.
At first glance, it may seem right… the sentiment, that is. I suppose he was attempting to sound clever, or maybe even stoic. After all, who wouldn’t want to engage in such a noble effort, as the removal of darkness? It seems even moral to be someone who makes an effort to clear away the darkness and make room for the light, right?
Unfortunately, there’s a problem with this thinking, and it’s all too common. In fact, this might very well be our culture’s greatest problem. It’s the idea that darkness is something that can be removed, and needs to be removed before light can come in. It’s the belief that darkness is something of substance which has filled our world and needs to be taken away so that light can be brought in. This simply isn’t the case.
Now think. When was the last time you stepped into a dark room? Maybe your young child awoke in the middle of the night and so you got up and went to their room to check on them. Did you remove the darkness in the room before you turned on the light? Of course not! You simply turned on the light.
The darkest space I have ever experienced was when my family went on a cave tour in south eastern Minnesota. After entering the mouth of the cavern, and going deeper and deeper into the earth, we finally arrived at a large room that was said to be carved by whirlpools of swirling water. After everyone in our group made it into the room, the guide turned off the lights. WOAH!!! I have never experienced such a deep darkness as I did in that moment. I could not see my hand in front of my face. After a few moments, the lights were turned back on, and my eyes made the adjustments. Looking back, that tour offered a darkness I have not experienced since. Fortunately, all of the darkness in that cave didn’t have to be removed before the light could come in!
So, why are we told that the darkness has to be removed?
You are probably familiar with the Creation Story that is found in the Bible. As it goes, Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden. They are told that they can eat of any tree in the garden, but they must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good an evil or they will surely die. So what do they do? Well, like anyone at a 5-star breakfast buffet, they eat of the tree’s fruit. So, what’s the problem? Well, if you are like most people who have been taught the story, you see the problem as disobedience. It is often taught that the problem in the garden was that Adam and Eve disobeyed, and because of their disobedience to God, they are punished by bringing death upon themselves. Is that how you learned it? Me, too!
But there’s so much more!
Four years ago, I joined a CrossFit gym. It seriously took me over a year to gain the courage to step foot through the doors. You see, I was never athletic. I had never touched a barbell. I couldn’t do a pull-up. Not exactly the picture of CrossFit, I know! But, after a few months of attending regularly, things began to change. I started speaking the language: WODs, DU’s, T2B, BB, DB, and even HSPUs! I started following all the famous CrossFitters on social media. I bought the clothes. And I even looked forward to the annual CrossFit games! You might say that I “drank the Kool-Aide!” Or another way to say it might be, I “ate the fruit.” I ate from the tree of the knowledge of CrossFit!
Adam and Eve’s downfall wasn’t simply disobedience. It was the result of ingesting an idea… a belief! Adam and Eve drank the Kool-Aide of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
They ingested the idea that good and evil both have substantial value.
They ingested the idea that light and darkness both have substantial value.
They fell for the idea that darkness has to be removed in order to make room for the light!
And the result for believing this lie? They missed out on LIFE!
When we believe that anxiety has to be removed before joy can come in, we have eaten from the same tree.
When we believe that sadness has to be removed before happiness can come in, we have eaten from the same tree.
When we think poverty has to be removed to make room for abundance, we have eaten from the same tree.
When we believe that fear has to be removed to make room for love, we have eaten from the same tree.
When we believe that darkness has to be removed to make room for light, we have eaten from the same tree.
Missing out on life isn’t punishment! It’s the result of believing the lie that darkness has to be removed before life can come in!