Stygian Surroundings

"Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)

The word stygian originates from the mythic, underworld river Styx. It's a synonym for dark. Pitch black. Think about this though: stars show up better when there's less unnatural light (called light pollution) to obstruct their natural light. Diamonds, too, stand out in all their brilliance against a black velvet surface. Sometimes, God lets the atmosphere around us get so black, stygian even, before He intervenes. In other words, He wants us to stand out—for all the right reasons. Humor me here. I'm not necessarily a shy person, but I certainly don't like to be stared at and observed. There's a poise between stage fright and unnatural charisma that I seek to maintain. But that's me. And I wasn't always that way. I seem to have been born with a youthful shallowness that sought attention in spite of having nothing inside that warranted any more than the average person. Does this make sense? The balance between hamming it up for an imaginary audience and maintaining my inner equilibrium in a crowd is something that took years to develop, understand and implement. When you stand on a stage and the spotlight hits you, all is dark around you. And thank God the light is so bright you can't see the audience.

"Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." (Romans 7:14)

God's nature is the opposite of sin. And while we may not practice any of the outward, observable sins such as murder, adultery, or gluttony in all its forms, there are still ways that need refocus or overhaul when we meet God. "Sin", as Oswald Chambers put it, is "red-handed mutiny against God". God's love is the other side of the coin and when we admit our sin, and whatever we can put our finger on, God will begin to cleanse us from "all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). But it's a process.

"But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (Genesis 15:16, emphasis mine)

In the above verse, God foretells Abram of the scale of sin, so to speak, of the Amorites. I can't pretend to know the extent of what He's speaking to, but honestly, it sounds like something akin to a battle tactic being revealed to Abram. It's like God is preparing His master-stroke in allowing the "iniquity of the Amorites" to get so bad as to necessitate a new paradigm of holiness. One that would stand in such stark and sharp contrast to the darkness surrounding it. Isaiah (59:19) says as much: "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."

Is this the answer you need? If you're asking, why do things keep getting darker and worse? The answer very well may be that God wants to reveal His light in you to where there's absolutely no mistaking that God is in you. The hope, the love, the forgiveness. You will be that beacon for them so hang in there!

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons (and daughters) of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

And when you get there, don't forget this: "I am as a wonder unto many; but Thou art my strong refuge." (Psalm 71:7)