"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


Have you ever been lost in the dark? Literally or figuratively? Pretty scary stuff—and for me, both events happened in the same week. My experience gave me some things to think about as Holy Week approaches.

My husband and I are in the middle of several significant life changes right now. We’re pregnant with our first baby, he’s in the middle of switching careers, and we just sold our house and are living with my sister until our new home in the country is ready. Of course, amid all these changes, Hubby wrecked his truck and we need to find a “new old” one ASAP. And of course, we experienced drama regarding the sale of our house. Our buyer attempted to back out four days before closing -- after we had already moved and completed their list of repair requests!

Despite the fact that the majority of these changes are good things -- things well worth the temporary struggle and things we had hoped for or planned for -- the darkness began to close in on me fast a few weeks ago. I was pregnant, stressed, and in the middle of a huge transition in almost every area of my life. In this short time span, it seemed like a domino effect of negative events — the more things could go wrong, the more things went wrong! I  cried at work every day for a solid week (which, by the way, is not the most professional look for a receptionist). I cried on the phone with my mom, not sure what to do next or how to regain control of my life. I prayed, of course, but nothing seemed to give me the comfort I sought. I knew God heard me, and I knew He was there, but my spirit wasn’t feeling it.

Lights Out!

Then, one evening, I made a trip to our rental storage room to put away the last box from our now-vacant house. Hubby was off doing other things and my parents weren’t available to take me. I figured Hey, it's one box and a few pairs of shoes -- nothing heavy. I can manage! So, I punched in the code at the gate, drove around to the back and lugged the box and shoes onto the complimentary dolly stowed just inside the warehouse door.

The way this particular storage warehouse is laid out is somewhat like a maze. Long corridors of nothing but wall-to-wall, pull-down, blue aluminum doors. No windows. The warehouse itself is huge, housing somewhere around two hundred units, of various sizes. I’ve been before with my husband when there were several other people milling about, and I’ve also been with him when it seemed completely deserted.

This evening was one of the deserted times.

No matter. I pushed the rolling dolly toward the storage unit, thankfully remembering how to get to our rented room in the maze of corridors from my last visit. The emptiness of the warehouse made me a little uneasy, so I quickly tried to free our padlock so I could shove the box in and get out of there.

Of course, the key wouldn’t work. I wrestled with it for several minutes, bending low on my knees and peering up at the lock, trying to see why the key didn’t want to fit.

“Come on!” I muttered and grunted and apologized to my in utero baby girl for temporarily squishing her.

Then the lights went out.

Just like that. No flicker, no warning, nothing. Just sudden, suffocating darkness. Have I mentioned I have claustrophobic tendencies?

I froze – I know, it’s cliché but the only proper description I can offer. Then my heart jumpstarted with all the force of a Corvette off a red light. I clutched the padlock key so I wouldn’t drop it and strained through the darkness.

Nothing. Just black.

Panic gripped my stomach, and I stumbled over the dolley, catching myself against the side wall. I couldn’t see. Could barely breathe. My thoughts jumbled into a single mantra—Oh God, oh God, oh God, ohGodohGodohGod…

As I stood there, heart pounding and thoughts racing, my eyes slowly adjusted. The green glow of an exit light at the end of the long corridor from which I’d come swam into focus. I kept my eyes on the light and gingerly made my way down the hall, one hand trailing the wall of doors. I didn’t care about the box or dolly I was leaving behind, didn’t care about my husband’s work boots sitting on top of the box. Nothing mattered except making it to that light, the light I knew led to my escape, to freedom, to air…

Nothing was as beautiful to me as that neon green exit sign. When I rounded the corner, the last waning glow of the evening sun shone through the cracked open door. Once I got my bearings, I realized why the overhead lights had gone off in the first place. Not because of all the reasons my over-active writer’s mind had concocted (someone turned them off on purpose to hunt me, the building was about to explode, someone had stalked me and followed me in to rob me, etc.) No, they went dark because the lights are on a timer. Apparently, when you come inside the warehouse, you’re supposed to make sure the timer button by the door is turned all the way to 60 minutes. That way there’s no danger of the lights going out on you.

Info that would have been lovely to know about 45 minutes earlier.

I jacked the timer to its full allotment and, after several deep breaths, completed the task of unlocking our unit and storing our last box (which, thankfully, was where I left it on the dolly and not in the hands of a crook! I know, I know, us silly writers!)

Illumination

As I drove to my sister’s house later that night, I had a lot to think about. My time in the darkness revealed much about my current circumstances regarding the stress in my life -- and I didn’t like what I saw. As I thought about the past few weeks, I realized that when crisis strikes, my faith panics much like I had in the darkened corridor of the warehouse. Instead of remaining calm, my spirit curls up in the fetal position much as I was tempted to do on the dolly!

But sometimes, I believe the darkness exists just so the light of Christ will shine a bit brighter. And the more I thought, the more I could see how darkness doesn’t have to paralyze me any longer. My experience in the warehouse seems all too appropriate for Holy Week -- when we remember how Christ ventured willingly into the darkest of all places – death. And yet you and I know how the story unfolds – on Easter morning, not even death could contain Jesus, and He brought the light of the Resurrection into the world. What is there to fear when death itself has been conquered?

So, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. It’s time I open my eyes and seek out the light of Christ, waiting to rescue me. I just need to look up and acknowledge Him. I could have kept my eyes closed in fear in that warehouse, and if I had, I’d never have seen that beautiful, green sign pointing the way to freedom. So, I’ve decided to focus on the saving light of Jesus -  regardless of the darkness of my current circumstances. In doing so, all fear and panic can be pushed aside to make room for relief and the sweet assurance that the He who has conquered all darkness will guide my steps, just as that bright green light guided me toward my escape.

Another thing that struck me on my way home was that when darkness fell -- I forgot about the baggage I brought with me. My former priorities were no longer my goals, my perspective changed -- suddenly all I wanted was light. Who cared that the lock was stuck or the box needed to go in the storeroom? I wanted out of there!

When tragedy strikes or things don’t go our way, it’s often the same in our lives — we let go of the trivial things weighing us down and turn our focus solely on receiving help. The problem is many of us look in the wrong place, turning to alcohol or drugs or food or sex or other means of temporary escape. We run, lost in a maze, feeding our senses with false remedies while the true cure of the Cross, the true exit, is right around the corner — and we miss it every time.

No matter what problems you’re facing today, there is an exit sign available to lead you, and His name is Jesus. The darker the blackness, the brighter that light shines. Cling to the outstretched hand of the One offering rescue and put your cares and concerns in His charge. You won’t be disappointed.

No, your circumstances might not instantly change, but your faith will grow and the light of our Lord will blind your eyes to the weight of the darkness around you. During the darkness of Holy Week, rest in His glow and let Him show you the way out. You might have to wind through the maze a little longer than you’d prefer, but eventually the darkness will subside. And that first glimpse of Easter morning will be worth every moment.

Originally published March 12, 2008.

Betsy Ann St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her hubby and newborn daughter. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. Look for her novel RETURN TO LOVE by Steeple Hill Love Inspired on shelves July 2009. You may contact Betsy at betsystamant@yahoo.com