I READ a story recently of a man working in a coal mine in Cumbria.
He was working alone, close to the heavy machinery that was down there when he banged his miners’ lamp against a rock and broke the bulb.
Instantly he was plunged into absolute darkness, and he described the terror that struck him, not being able to see his hand directly in front of his face, not daring to move, but knowing he had to move away from the machinery which could seriously injure, if not take his life.
Even though he was familiar with his surroundings, the darkness that enveloped him was so severe that fear overcame all logic and reasoning.
He knew that if he stayed still some of his work mates would come and after what seemed an eternity (but was probably five minutes) he saw a tiny speck of light in the distance which gradually got brighter and turned into three lights and eventually the light arrived and the three people gave him the help that he needed.
In fact, what they did was to activate the spare bulb in his lamp which, in the midst of his fear, he had totally forgotten about.
The man goes on to say that it wasn’t long after that he heard for the first time the words written by Minnie Louise Haskins, I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
Darkness can be a terrifying thing.
I guess most people, and especially children, have at some time or another had a fear of darkness.
Why? Because even when they are in the comfort of familiar surroundings, once darkness descends upon them, it envelops them and it can create doubt and uncertainty; the unseen and the unknown can be terrifying.
But there is always hope for us even in our darkest and most frightening times, because Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.
Terry Waite, when he was a hostage in Beirut, said that the light of Christ was what he clung on to when he was in his darkest of times and he put his hope in that light.
As I remind those attending baptisms, where the light of Christ is such an important symbol, light always overcomes darkness.
Introduce light into darkness and the darkness is always driven away and with it the fears that darkness holds.
Introduce the light of Christ into your life and he will drive away all of the things that threaten you and will allow his peace to reign in your life.
May God bless each one of you.
Revd Dave Marvin
St Mary’s Church Greasley