From the two most powerful moments of darkness in the Scriptures, then, we are able to draw two powerful conclusions: God is present in the darkness, and the darkness is waiting on God to speak.
This is good news.
It's good news because we don't have to worry what's wrong with God when darkness falls. We don't have to wonder whether He's good or not. We don't have to question what God is up to when we can't figure out what is formless and void. All we have to do is know that God is present and trust that He will speak.
That doesn't mean that God will speak right away. It doesn't mean that He will speak in our lifetime. It doesn't mean that there will be some thundering voice and flashes of lightning and all that. And I think that's maybe what bothers us most about it - this is what we really want from God. We want Him to speak now, to explain things now, to thunder and flash and boom and make it clear.
But I think in the darkness, what we most often hear is not the voice of a thundering God, but that of a careful artist.
Have you seen the way that an artist speaks to His work?
It's all in whispers, in mumbles, in messages just for Him and His masterpiece. He's speaking almost under His breath, giving just the slightest sound to His own inner monologue. Just a little more...and then we'll....and over here, there's...yeah...just...and then....almost.....
He's adding a dab of paint over here, smoothing out a rough place over there, working a torn thread in in yet another place, His tongue just slightly crooked out of the corner of His mouth. (My great-grandmother used to say that if you don't hold your tongue right, nothing will turn out.)
This is the kind of voice I think God speaks in when He speaks into the darkness. It's not the booming voice of all authority, but the fully-engaged voice of the artist. I can hear Him drawing together the formless and void, forming the earth in the palms of His hand. I can hear Him dusting the dirt off His hands while He labors to get Adam just right. I can hear Him blow a feather out of His mouth when He's working on the birds. And I can hear Him painstakingly trying to make sense of the darkness, trying to find a way to work it into His beautiful masterpiece.
The idea of a whispering God should not bother us. After all, when He spoke through the Roman centurion after the death of His Son, none of us reads this as a shout. None of us envisions the guard standing, turning to face the crowd, and shouting in his best announcer voice, "Surely, this was the Son of God!" No, we hear him whisper, astonished, breathless, quiet.
And that means that if we want to hear God speak in the darkness, we must also be quiet. We must find a way to rest, even in the troubles, and wait. We must shut out all the noise, all the clamoring, all the demands on our attention, and we must trust that God, the artist that He is, is about to say something.
In other words, and maybe this sounds a little familiar, we must just be still...and know.
Darkness never has the final word; it has no words at all. It is only waiting, with the rest of us, for God to speak.
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