The power of darkness is pervasive. I'm never surprised when it pushes back against the light. Anyone who has watched their flashlight gradually lose its charge as the night closes in can attest to the persistent, often scary creep of darkness.
A co-worker of mine once had his world rocked by a series of events he couldn't control. He was driving toward a meeting at our church campus one evening when three girls darted out in front of him in traffic. Two young girls were with their older sister when they decided to cross the street far from any crosswalk. My friend was driving the speed limit in the right lane. Next to him was a pickup truck with a camper shell which obscured his vision to the left and in front of the truck. The driver of the pickup saw the girls run out in front of him and had time to stop, but my friend had no idea what was happening until he struck one of the girls. She was thrown up onto the hood of his car, then back onto the street. Rushed to the hospital, the girl had a broken leg.
My friend, a precise and cautious driver, also has a sweet spot for kids. He was devastated by this accident which he had no chance to avoid. He immediately stepped into the light as he confronted the darkness of his situation. After dealing with the police, he made his way straight to the hospital to reach out to the girl's family and pray for them. They received him with warmth and words of comfort, realizing his devastation. The light seemed to be winning the day...until darkness began closing in.
At some point, the little girl's parent began to see the accident as a way to make some money. Though my friend's car insurance was ready to pay for any medical bills, the parent began a quest to file a lawsuit which ultimately included my friend, the driver of the pickup and our church. Local attorneys looked at the case and refused to take it, but an attorney was found in a large city who agreed to represent the family.
Months turned into a few years before the case went to court. The plaintiff tried to prove that the daughter had suffered mental disability from the accident. Sadly, the parent had spent significant time and energy taking the daughter to physicians in order to prove the alleged difficulty, but had not done anything with doctors to treat the "problem."
The darkness that absorbed the heart of this greedy parent ended up hurting everyone. While my friend essentially won his court case, we were all left heartbroken over a little girl who had become nothing more than a pawn in an attempt to profit from her injury. We could tell that the emotional markings would be left on her for years to come. She might never escape the ugly darkness which had been thrust upon her.
Darkness creeps in. The prophet Joel described it in the Old Testament book that bears his name. We will look at it this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. If you can't be there, catch the podcast online here or download it here.