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Walking in the Darkness

One of the best-selling books of non-fiction in the last fifty years was Dr. M. Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Traveled. The opening sentence of the book is “Life is Difficult.” Two paragraphs later he declares, “Life is a series of problems.” The balance of the book is about confronting and solving our problems.

I found one of the most profound teachings of the book was what he called being “dedicated to reality.” Peck says:

“… truth is reality. That which is false is unreal. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world—the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions—the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.

In the work we do here, we encounter so many men, young and old who are lost. Their lostness confuses them because they can’t understand why life is not going well for them. They so often are not aware of their lostness until it smacks them in the face.

In his book, The Most Reluctant Convert, David Downing writes about C.S. Lewis’s journey to faith. Lewis, for thirty-one years was an atheist. He eventually became a theist and then a Christian at the age of thirty-three. Lewis says that during his early years he thought he knew where he was going, but really did not. He shares a humorous story that he believed was an allegory of his life.

Lewis tells of his arrival as a student in the renowned university town of Oxford. He reports that he came out of the railway station loaded down with luggage and headed down the street in the wrong direction, away from the college. He kept walking, increasingly disappointed by the frowzy houses and shops he saw, until he came near to the edge of the city. Only when he saw that he was on the outskirts of town and entering the countryside did he turn around. There spread before him, “never more beautiful since, was the fabled clusters of spires and towers of Oxford.” At that point he realized he had gone the wrong way, turning his back on his true destination. In recounting this episode Lewis concludes that “this little adventure was an allegory of my whole life.”

Lewis saw this incident as an allegory of his life because it showed that for so much of his life he had been lost, going in the wrong direction.

Jesus speaks often of human lostness, though he uses different terminology. He uses the metaphor of “walking in darkness.” In John 12:35 Jesus contrasts walking in light versus walking in darkness and closes by saying “he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.” When you do not know where you are going, you are lost.

Then in John 12:46, Jesus says, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in the darkness.”

Clearly light enables us to see. In the physical world, there are three things necessary in order to see. First you need an object to look at, then you must have the ability to see (your eyesight), and then you must have light.

This is also true in the spiritual realm. You must have something to see, and that would be spiritual truth. You would need the ability to perceive this spiritual truth and this why we have a mind that can think, reason, and understand. Finally, you must have light.

In John 8:12 Jesus makes it clear that He is that light. He does not claim to be one of the many lights out in the world, but in fact to be “the light of the world.” He goes on to say “he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of Life.”

I love this famous quote from C.S. Lewis which communicates the importance of Christ’s light so well;

“I believe in God just as I believe in the Sun, not only because I see it, but by it I can see everything else.”


Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.

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