Ruby Falls, inside Lookout Mountain, in Chatta...

Ruby Falls

In Isaiah 45:3 the Lord says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.” I’m not sure about you, but I have never really been one to think about darkness as a place to find treasure.  In fact, what happens when we find ourselves in a serious storm at night and all the power goes out?

It’s A Dark Place When The Lights Go Out

For me, it is at first a little alarming when the lights go out because I don’t normally expect for the power to suddenly turn off.  Secondly, it is a little fearful in the house because everyone is instantly in total darkness and it is difficult to find our way around. Then, it becomes an immediate search for light – a flashlight, a lighter, matches, a candle – anything that will give some light in the midst of the surrounding darkness.  If you are prepared for such a situation and know where you can find some light, it makes things a whole lot better a whole lot quicker.  Otherwise, you can do nothing except wait in the darkness until the power is restored or morning comes.  Either way, any waiting in darkness is never fun.

It’s An Even Darker Place When The Lights Go Out Spiritually

So that’s an experience in physical darkness, but what about finding yourself in the midst of a spiritual darkness? It could be a spiritual darkness that comes upon you by no fault of your own such as finding out that your child has a life threatening cancer like my parents discovered in my sister when she was 16 years old.  The uncertainty and fear of the unknown can create some dark spiritual places.  Or, what about the long journey home as a real prodigal son or daughter in the house of God?  This would be someone like me who was a legitimate blood bought son in the house of God, called by God’s name, living in the Father’s house, and then leaving one day with the Father’s inheritance and blowing it through prodigal living and personal failure away from the Father’s house. The journey home can have some dark spiritual places for a legitimate son or daughter of God turning back to the Father’s house.   

For anyone who has never found themselves in such a dark place as a prodigal child of God, they might think, “How can that be? Doesn’t God have forgiveness? You must not understand the fullness of God’s grace and His mercy.”  To such a response, I would say, yes, God does have grace and mercy, but I also know that God has truth too and we must all face the brutal truth in our lives.  For instance, a real prodigal son or daughter of God must face the brutal truth found in Luke 9:62 stating, “But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” and John 14:21 stating “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me [Jesus].” Plus, the devil knows the truth of God’s Word pretty well also and will try to use parts of it in a way to heap condemnation upon us if we don’t know the whole truth of God’s Word and allow His whole truth to search us and know us as we face the brutal truth in our lives, while never losing hope.

We Must Face The Brutal Truth Of  Life Even When It’s Dark

In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, his research found that “good” companies become “great” companies, when they are able to face the brutal facts of their situation, yet never lose hope. I have learned and continue to learn that genuine people of faith are able to do the same thing – face the brutal facts of their life, yet never lose hope because their hope is in Christ and the totality of His Word.  1 Corinthians 9:10 states “that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope” and Colossians 1:27 states, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Therefore, when the devil tell tells me that I’m not fit for the kingdom because I put my hand to the plow and once turned back, I respond to him in the spirit of truth by telling him that I am plowing and threshing in hope – Christ in me, the hope of glory – and the whole truth says that I have every right to be a partaker of this hope.

When I read and study the Word of God, I am so thankful that God recorded the truth about the lives of the heroes of faith in the Bible as I find comfort in such truth when I have to face the brutal truth in my own life.  In fact, when Peter denied the Lord three times on the night of the Lord’s trial, I’m certain when the rooster crowed and the brutal truth confronted Peter, he found himself in a dark spiritual place.  Luke 22:56-62 records the truth:

“And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, ‘This man was also with Him.’ But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’  And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’ But Peter said, ‘’Man, I am not!’ Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’  But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying.’  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”

Afterwards, as Peter faced the brutal truth of his failure, I believe the devil could have very well been heaping loads of condemnation upon Peter by telling him, “If you loved Jesus, you would have been there for Him.  If you loved Jesus, you wouldn’t have denied Him three times. If you really loved Jesus, you would have kept His commands.”  However, isn’t it interesting that when Jesus meets Peter after His resurrection, He calls Peter, Simon – son of Jonah – and asks him three times:  “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me? Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”

So let me ask you this question: In the biblical story of Jonah, where did Jonah find himself?  It was in the belly of a whale which most definitely had to be a dark spiritual place.  Therefore, by Jesus calling Peter, Simon – son of Jonah, He was in essence saying: “Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me? Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me? Peter, son of God in a dark spiritual place, do you love me?”  And each time, Peter said, “Yes, Lord, I love You” including the third time when Peter says, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  With Peter’s third response, I believe he was quite possibly intimating, “Lord, You know all things. Your truth has painfully searched me and you know me – the good, the bad, and the ugly truth about me.  Yes, Lord, I love You because You first loved me to the point of giving Your life for me even though I don’t deserve it.”  In that place of painful truth, the Lord called Peter out of spiritual darkness and into his spiritual destiny where Peter also found the treasures of the Lord’s faithfulness that reaches to the clouds, His mercy that endures forever, and His grace that is sufficient.

God And His Treasures Can Be Found In The Dark Places Of Life

When we allow the truth of God’s Living Word to fully search us, know us, and do a work in us, no matter how painful the truth of our lives may be, we truly can find treasures of darkness that can be found no other way in our relationship with the Lord.  In fact, I like to relate such personal spiritual discovery to the personal discovery of Ruby Falls by Mr. Leo Lambert on December 30, 1928.  Following his discovery of the falls nestled deep into the Lookout Mountain Caves in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he shared the following sentiment as written on a plaque hanging on a wall at the Ruby Falls tour site:

“Discovering Ruby Falls was like discovering God. At first, it is very dark, scary, and uncertain.  You don’t know what lies ahead. You bump into things you didn’t even realize were there and you suffer injuries, bumps, and bruises. You fall down in sticky mud and mire and feel like you cannot go on.  But you get up with a feeling that somewhere ahead lies something more wonderful than you can ever imagine.  As you add light to what you discovered, you find that the things that caused you suffering and injury were wonderful God made things put there for you to witness and give you joy.  It is all more than you ever imagined you could witness. It is God, and Ruby Falls and the Lookout Mountain Cave are God’s creations, made for man to enjoy. I am just a little proud that He used me [to discover it].”

Sometimes on our journey of life, we can find ourselves like Mr. Lambert, crawling through some tight dark places where we may suffer some bumps, bruises, and pain; however, if we keep on going with the light of God’s Word to light our path in those dark places of life (Psalm 119:105), we can rest assured that the Lord will lead us to His treasures of darkness that we could not find any other way than to go through the darkness with Him. Just like Mr. Lambert’s surprising discovery of the magnificently beautiful Ruby Falls in the deep dark caves of Lookout Mountain, we too will find unimaginable treasures of spiritual growth and maturity as we trust the Lord to faithfully lead and guide us through the darkest places of our lives.

In fact, no matter how dark the situation may be in our own lives, we can find great encouragement from David who was no stranger to finding the Lord’s treasures of darkness in his own life.  There is no better example of this than Psalms 23:4 where David states, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Furthermore, in Psalm 139:7-12, David writes, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”  I take great comfort knowing that God is always with us (Matthew 28:20), even in the dark places of life, and He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). May all glory, blessing, and honor be to the Lord for He is good, He is faithful, and His Word is true!

Discovering Treasures Of Darkness Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Discovering Treasures Of Darkness, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.