Were you afraid of the dark as a child? Are you still afraid of the dark? It can be unsettling being in the dark. Objects that are familiar in the light became strange, even frightening, in the dark. Spike Milligan wrote a poem about the fear that can come with darkness:
Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It’s the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!
Tasks that are easy in the light can also become very difficult in darkness. When our children were young I once get up early for work and decided to get dressed in the dark so that wife and children would not be disturbed. I drove through the dark streets to the office and it was only in the bright glare of the office fluorescent lights that I discovered that in the darkness I had put on my ‘decorating’ shirt which was liberally covered with gloss paint!
At the last General Conference, Elder Vern P Stanfill spoke about darkness and light (Choosing the Light, October 2015). He shared a story about going into a dark place:
‘Those who had gone before warned us that the tunnels were dark and that we needed really strong lights. As we gathered in front of the massive stone opening of the Taft Tunnel, a caretaker explained some of the dangers of the trail, including deep ditches along the edges, rough walls, and complete darkness. Impatiently, we pushed forward into the tunnel. After we had ridden only a few minutes, the predicted darkness engulfed us. The lights I brought proved inadequate, and the darkness soon overwhelmed them. Suddenly, I began to feel anxious, confused, and disoriented.’
Have you ever been in complete darkness and felt that disoriented feeling? My job often takes me away from home and I have got used to sleeping in strange hotel rooms. At first though, I would find that I would wake up in the middle of the night in complete darkness and not know where I (or the toilet!) was. Now, I always make sure that I leave enough light on to find my way if I wake up in the night.
Elder Stanfill continues:
‘I was embarrassed to admit my anxieties to my friends and family. Although an experienced cyclist, I now felt as though I had never ridden a bicycle. I struggled to stay upright as my confusion increased. Finally, after I did express my discomfort to those around me, I was able to draw closer to the more powerful light of a friend. In fact, everyone in the group began to form a tight circle around him. By staying close to him and relying for a time on his light and the collective light of the group, we pushed deeper into the darkness of the tunnel.’
There may be times in our lives when we need to rely temporarily on the stronger light of another. We should not be embarrassed about this. We should cluster around them and rely on their light until ours is strengthened.
‘After what seemed like hours, I saw a pinpoint of light. Almost immediately, I began to feel reassured that all would be well. I continued to press forward, relying on both the light of my friends and the growing pinpoint of light. My confidence gradually returned as the light grew in size and intensity. Long before reaching the end of the tunnel, I no longer needed the assistance of my friends. All anxiety disappeared as we pedaled quickly toward the light. I felt calm and reassured even before we rode into the morning full of warmth and splendor.’
Darkness has been used as a symbol of many things including sin and ignorance. In this talk Elder Stanfill uses it as a symbol for doubt. He goes on to liken this experience in the dark tunnel to the darkness of doubt that can envelop us if we are not prepared with strong torches of faith:
‘We live in a world in which we will experience challenges to our faith. We may feel confident that we are ready to face these challenges—only to find that our preparations have been insufficient. And just as my friend had warned me about the darkness, we are warned today. Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength.’
Elder Stanfill then shares some lessons he learned from this experience:
‘First, no matter how intense the darkness of doubt, we choose how long and to what extent we allow it to influence us
‘Second, we must trust in the Lord in order to develop spiritual strength within ourselves.
‘Third, there is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light.
Elder Neil L. Andersen recently taught: “As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”’
In D&C 21:4-6 we read:
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
6 For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.
What great promises are made to us when we follow the Prophet:
- The gates of hell shall not prevail against us
- The Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before us
- God will cause the heavens to shake for our good
Elder Stanfill concludes:
‘Brothers and sisters, we have not been left alone to be influenced by every whim and change in the world’s attitude, but we have the power to choose belief over doubt. In order to access the promised compensatory spiritual power, we must choose to heed prophetic counsel, recognize and act upon spiritual promptings, be obedient to God’s commandments, and seek personal revelation. We must choose. May we choose the light of the Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’