Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Dipping the Quill Deeper: Light (and Victory) in the Darkness


by Eva Marie Everson

When I was a child, I had an acute fear of the dark. So did my brother, younger by three years. When we were about seven and ten, we wrote a contract together that stated if one of us ever woke in the middle of the night afraid, we had the right to get into bed with the other, no questions asked. 

We both slept with our closet lights on, the door ajar. 

Into adulthood, neither of us liked being in the dark and, in fact, as my brother’s days on earth neared an end, he asked me not to turn out all the lights in his hospital room . . . to keep a light burning somewhere. I told him that I would not only leave a light on for him, I also wouldn’t leave him, period. We kept our contractual agreement until the day he died, when he went off to be with the Light of the World. 

Dark has always been associated with evil. With fear. With the unknown. That’s why, by and large, we don’t like it. 

I have a clear memory of sleeping over at my friend Tina’s house when we were children. Tina lived “out in the country,” where there were no streetlights. On moonless, starless nights, the world turned to pitch as soon as her overhead bedroom light was shut off. I remember lying in the bed next to Tina on one such night, holding my hand directly in front of my face, seeing nothing. I only knew my hand was there because it was my hand. Had Tina placed her hand in front of my face, I wouldn’t have known. And I didn’t like that one bit. 

I also recall the night I drove down a Georgia-red-clay road on the eve of my 18th birthday. The skies had let out a deluge for the past hour or so, which meant the road was a slippery mess. It was also deeply rutted. So, what I found myself driving down that moonless night was a deeply rutted slippery mess. Even though I drove at a snail’s pace, I hit one of the ruts wrong and lost control of the car. After fishtailing for a few terrifying moments, the car slid into a ditch and tipped onto its side. 

A friend lived down the road (I had just dropped her off) and the hour was nearing midnight. Earlier in the evening, my friend had told me about two “killer dogs” who lived on the road. “I wouldn’t want to be out if they got loose,” she said. As I managed to get myself out of the car (I had tried for several minutes to get the car out of the ditch, but to no avail), I wondered if I had already passed the “killer-dog” house or if it was on up the road toward the highway. My only choice was to start walking back to Donna’s and to stay dead center in the road. There were also two other issues. One, like Tina, Donna lived in the middle of nowhere with no streetlights, and two, the rain continued to pelt both me and the ground around me, which made walking difficult. 

I began to pray. Silently, of course, in case the killer dogs overheard me. As long as Jesus could hear the cries of my heart, I figured I would be okay. Suddenly, lightning began to illuminate the sky. Streaks of it. Bold visions of it. The light was constant and made a way for me, keeping me in the center of the road and directing me to Donna’s currently unlit home. 

I recently read the latest novel by Bill Myers, Rendezvous with God, an insightful retelling of the Gospel with a modern twist. I don’t typically underline words and phrases and sentences in novels, but one in particular within this work caught my attention. I reached for my pencil.

“But you’ve got to remember, Will, the brightest victories hide in the darkest places.”

The day my brother died was one of the darkest—if not the darkest—of my life . . . and yet, for him, it proved to be the most victorious. The brightest. About a half hour after his death, I reached for my phone to notify our family—cousins, aunts, uncles—and friends. I texted simply: Van is with Jesus. He has won the race. He is the victor. Some people would say that he fought a battle with cancer and lost. I say he fought a battle with cancer and won.

That night with Tina, even though there was no light in the room (and I do mean, no light), my friend was beside me. This meant the darkness wasn’t so hard to take. It didn’t hold the same threat. The same fear. In the morning, when we woke to the bright summer sunshine streaming in through the window, I felt as though I had accomplished something. I had slept in the dark without a light, but with a friend. 

And on the eve of my eighteenth birthday, when the clock struck midnight and I walked down that dark muddy road, I wasn’t alone at all. Jesus had sent a great light to guide me to where I could safely call my father . . . and a tow truck. 

Without the dark, none of those stories would hold any impact, really, because the light—and the Light—shines brightest when everything has gone to pitch. Much as Mr. Myers so eloquently phrased it.

Our lives get like that sometimes—they turn dark and ugly, lonely and frightening. But the Light has come and when we call upon Him, our greatest Friend, He will show off in ways we can hardly begin to expect. When we writers write—no matter what genre we have chosen—we must keep that in mind. To show off the Light, we explain the darkness it shines into. Sometimes that is death, sometimes fear, sometimes the unknown. 

But always, always, the Light.

The people walking in darkness have seen a 
great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness 
a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).

TWEETABLE

Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is the multiple award-winning author of 40 books and countless articles and blogposts. She is also an award-winning speaker and a Bible teacher. Eva Marie is often seen at writers conferences across the States. She served as a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and taught as a guest professor at Taylor University in 2011. She and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy their grandchildren. They are owned by one persnickety cat. 

7 comments:

  1. Oh, Eva Marie, you've done it again, you've encouraged struggling writers along the way. God uses your skill with words to illuminate our paths at just the right time. Thanks!

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  2. Great example of showing - not telling. Very clear and moving.
    I was not with my sister the day she died, but it was surely a very dark moment that the Lord brought great, impactful revelation out of. Thankyou

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  3. Wonderful and encouraging post!

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  4. A writer friend shared the link to this post. Lovely, Eva Marie. So glad I read it.

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  5. I am touched and blessed by your post, dear Eva Marie. A simple "thank you" seems inadequate, but it is deeply heartfelt.

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  6. Wow Thank you Eva Marie. Beautiful, powerful,poignant.

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  7. Beautiful illumination! Thank you for this encouragement.

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