Ice Cream and the Darkness
Last night, I went out with friends. We finished the evening at a candy and homemade ice cream shop. A large sign over the ice cream counter boasted an impressive list of available flavors, some conventional, some creative. Nestled within the list was an ice cream named The Darkness.
It caught my eye immediately. I asked about it. (Dark chocolate, with dark chocolate chips and other rich and chocolatey things.) I requested a sample.
I tasted it.
And then I ordered a scoop and enjoyed every last bit of it. (And I’d do it again. It was fantastic.)
But because it’s Advent, I got to thinking later about my own spiritual relationship with darkness. Isaiah 9 (NIV, also Matthew 4) says “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”
And although I’ll freely admit that I sometimes walk in darkness, my tendency toward denial steers me to believe that when I do, it happens because of the evils of the world around me, because of systems of injustice and inequality and cruelty and greed, because of what he did or she did or they did…
All those factors comprise a huge part of the darkness. No question. And I will not minimize that. But the darkness I experience is not merely external to me. I’m not only a victim of the darkness or an observer of the darkness. I am a participant in it.
There are certain sorts of darkness that call to me, that catch my eye on the menu board of behaviors and thought patterns and indulgences. And when they call, I do not always turn away. Sometimes I ask for more details. I request a sample. I taste. I order a scoop.
I consume the darkness. I savor it and swallow it and draw it into my soul. All of my own accord. And in my worst moments, I’ll resist anyone who tries to wrest the spoon from my fingers.
Jesus says to Nicodemus, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20, NIV).
True: because I’m this side of Bethlehem, I have been rescued from darkness. (See Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9.) Also true: because I’m this side of heaven, I still feel the darkness pressing in on me; I still hear it calling to me. At times, I grab a scoop of it to taste for myself.
During this season of Advent, I desperately long for the light of Jesus to enter the darkness of the world.
But if I stop there, I miss something vitally, deeply important. I must also acknowledge the darkness in myself. Once I do, I widen my desperation to long for the light of Jesus to enter the darkness of my own heart. Then and only then, can I more truly grasp the power and the glory of the arrival of Jesus:
“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, NIV).
[Note: Follow me on my new Instagram account @kirstenwilson_story for posts like this–but usually shorter–that help you practice stepping into God’s story.]