By Joel Iyorwa
It is fairly easy to drift into a state of cognitive dissonance when we read passages in the Bible like:
‘He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.’ (Psalm 18:11)
‘Then spake Solomon, “The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.”’ (1 Kings 8:12)
‘This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’. (1 John 1:5)
To the casual reader of the bible, this is either some kind of mistake or one of the Bibles many purported contradictions. How can God be so closely associated with both these opposing and opposite realities?
Yes, while there is no darkness in God, he dwells in ‘darkness.’ Often this is interpreted to mean the bad, negative, disadvantageous things that we encounter as we walk with God, stuff like sickness, pain, lack of money, loss or failure in business and so on. But there is more to this ‘darkness’ that God seems to be so comfortably “dwelling” in.
The key to understanding “God who dwells in darkness” is to see one of the often forgotten but prominent characteristics of darkness, that is, concealment.
One of the greatest actions of darkness is to conceal, hiding stuff or kind of preventing it from being known.
Darkness mystifies its content. It keeps its content away from casual seekers; it hides its content from passer-bys and mere onlookers or window-shoppers.
To find something kept in the dark, you have to be more than just a casual seeker, more than an accidental or circumstantial seeker, and more than an indifferent seeker. This is exactly why God says “I dwell in darkness.”
God is not in darkness so as to not be found or discovered. He dwells in darkness to draw unto Himself the hungry, passionate and desperate pursuers. It takes a bit of work to find a treasure hidden in the dark and only a genuine desire and desperation can sustain the quest to discover treasures in the dark.
This is why only few end up finding God at the intimate levels. Too many are content with the status quo. Too many are unwilling to step into the uninviting, unattractive and even frightening darkness in search of God.
This was the exact sort of scenario that played out on Mt Sinai with Moses and the people of Israel.
“And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:21)
The people were fearful, discouraged and unmotivated to go to where God was, they were content to be on lookers, to worship from afar, and only Moses fancied the odyssey into the dark dwelling of God. No wonder we are told in Psalm 103:7:
“He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” (emphasis mine)
When we step into the darkness surrounding God, He gives us Himself, not just His things. We know His deep ways not just His superficial acts.
But God is never to be stumbled upon, never to be found cheaply and never to be possessed without a heart-level passion and desire to do so. He places Himself in ‘darkness.’
Stepping into the darkness in pursuit of God means we ourselves are often not in the world’s glare. It is a quest that thrusts us into the quiet, secret place. Again, this is not necessarily an appealing thing but one that we cannot avoid.
If God dwells in darkness, and if we cannot exactly stumble upon Him and find Him unintentionally, then it will take a concise, proactive and fully conscious decision as well as a practical plan and a sustainable hunger and passion to find the God who surrounds Himself with darkness.
One thing we can be sure of is that He has promised that He will be found by those who seek Him. When we step into the concealing darkness surrounding God, we know we are not on a wild goose chase. Here are some of God’s promises:
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)
May God find you and me hungry and desperate for Him enough to move into the darkness with which He is surrounded and to pursue hard after Him. We know that the perimeter of darkness around Him is not to frustrate us but an invitation to seek Him diligently with all our hearts.