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  The Line In The Sand
     - Credits
     - Forward - L. Alexander
     - Introduction
     - 1. The Dawning (Part 1)
     - 2. Incoming
     - 3. Return Fire
     - 4. Bankruptcy
     - 5. Pressure
     - 6. I'll Show You
     - 7. Liar, Liar
     - 8. Broken Glass
     - 9. Grand Canyon (Part 2)
     - 9a. No Canyon
     - 9b. Making The Canyon
     - 9c. Codependency
     - 9d. Baggage
     - 9e. The Way We Are
     - 9f. Work
     - 9g. Exclusion
     - 10. Spelunking (Part. 3)
     - 11. In The Darkness
     - 12. In The Light
     - 13. Reorganization
     - 14. The Final Chapter

     - Review - J. Talavera
     - Review - N. Beck
     - About the Author

 
Fix Your Marriage
 

(Part 3) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 11. - In The Darkness


     To write about what it means to be in the darkness will require me to actually reveal the darkness. In doing this, the darkness will then be exposed to the light. The light will then completely replace the darkness and I will be living in the light.

     The darkness, when exposed to the light, is then pushed out and away and can no longer be darkness, but is now light. So this principle of Darkness and Light is the best example I have found illustrating the existence of the line in the sand.

     Now, let's go back to the beginning.

     (Genesis 1:1-5) "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep. God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters. God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw the light, and saw that it was good. God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. There was evening and there was morning, one day."

     Darkness was on the surface of the deep. God chose to create light and He saw that "it was good." I am making an assumption here, but I'll go out on a limb and say that I think God knew for eternity in His heart that darkness would be the opposite of light, and therefore be "bad" for us, in general terms. So, He, being light, created light for us so we could see. Then, He does an interesting thing; He divided the light from the darkness!

     (Genesis 1:14-18) "God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of sky to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of sky to give light on the earth,' and it was so. God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of sky to give light to the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good."

     What a wonderful thing that God would create two great lights, one to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night. He displayed His glory through the creation, and extended His grace in advance by making it so we would not have to exist even one moment in total darkness. I have experienced near-total darkness, but cannot imagine living fifty percent of my life in total darkness.

     And yet, I found myself (better yet, Jesus found me) existing in my own personal internal darkness. I would hide my sins in the dark places in my heart, and then "forget" about them as though they didn't exist. When my sins were pushed away in the darkness, I could choose to hide from them as well as hide them from the people in my life. I was hiding who I was, the true me, in the darkness.

     What is it about our internal darkness that makes us desire to hide in its perceived safety?

     The natural need for acceptance coupled with the realization that we are unacceptable is a good place to start this journey. For example, I want to hide the bad things I do from you. I really want you to believe that I am a good person. I don't want you to know anything about me that would cause you to not like me.

     I might say that I don't care if you like me or not, but the need for acceptance is still there. It is not that I can just shut off my natural emotional needs like a light switch. Hey, wouldn't that put me in the darkness, too?

     To be accepted by our family members is a deep need we all have. For example, I needed to be accepted "just as I am" by my father, and as I was growing up, I don't believe I actually heard him tell me that he loved me just as I was. So I sought out his acceptance through my attempts to "look good." As if my outward appearance, or the mask I wore, would gain acceptance from him. It seems the harder I tried to be accepted, the farther away I got from what I needed. I didn't know that I could simply walk up to my dad and say, "Daddy, do you love me just the way I am?" It seems ironic as I look back now, but I was unable to even "see" that I didn't have that level of acceptance from him.

     If I am seeking to win God's acceptance through the good works I keep striving to do, I will be worn ragged, and never reach my goal. If I find myself falling short of the "goals" I have set for myself, I will begin to hide the things that would make me unacceptable in other's (and God's) eyes. Now I'm in trouble. I will begin to repeat the pattern of doing the unacceptable and hiding it to keep up the outward appearance of being likeable or acceptable in your eyes. "I know I'm not acceptable, but surely you and God don't need to know."

     If I don't tell you, you won't know. So then my secret is safe, and no one needs to know. I can do those bad things every now and then, and still appear to be OK. Now I am fully immersed in the secret, and consequently I am resting uneasily, fully in the darkness. This is where the management begins. I lie. I cover it up. I lie again and again and again. Now I have to hide the bad thing I did, and the lie. Then to make matters worse, I have to try to remember the circumstance, the lie, and the other things I said to make the lie seem believable.

     After a while, it gets easier for me to tell you all the lies. You seem to believe me every time anyway, and I have become comfortable lying to you. You accept me just the way I am.

     No, you accept me just the way I've made you think I am. Now that this is out of control, in order for me to continue to be "accepted" by you and God, I will have to maintain the secret. I may even vow to never tell. I may even confess all the bad things I've done to God, just to get right with Him, and yet continue in the secret with you. I will even find myself feeling guilty and make a change to stop the bad behavior, and a promise to God to never, ever do it again. Things will be better, for a while, until I find myself longing for the immediate gratification of the bad thing I have already done so many times that another one couldn't possibly make me any worse than I already am. The cycle continues. I do it again. I feel bad. I stop. I make another promise. It gets better.

     However...

     I am still unacceptable. I will never be acceptable, and if you only knew what I did, you would completely reject me. I believe that the greatest fear in all human beings is the fear of being alone. We need each other. We need to be accepted just the way we are. We need to be "good enough" to someone important in our lives.

     We also need the approval of a "big person" that we can trust. That "big person" can be dad or mom, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, teacher, neighbor, friend, and so on. It is probable that merely one of these people verbally approving of us, "just-as-we-are," will be enough to keep the approval deposit at a positive balance. The drawback is that this verbal approval needs to be re-deposited or repeated frequently to maintain a positive balance. We can't just do a one-time deposit and expect the account to draw interest for the remainder of time.

     When the approval is from my earthly father and/or mother, the value of the deposit is much larger than from others. And conversely, the balance is more significantly reduced when mother and father abuse me, put me down or ignore me. The impact on my heart is that I begin to believe I will never live up to what they want me to be, and I will begin to lose trust for them and others because of the pain I have to endure. Not trusting others with my thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, with who I really am, becomes a painful reality.

     Since I can't trust you with who I am because you will mock me, put me down, beat me, hurt me in whatever way you can at the time, and hurt me in ways I have been hurt in the past, I will not reveal who I am so I can try to manage the outcome of the situation. I don't trust you not to hurt me because you don't approve of who I am (there's no way you could).

     So, I am unacceptable and you don't approve of me. It's dark and depressing in here. I don't want to be alone in here, but I am. And because I am unacceptable, and you won't like me the way I am, I can't let you in. It is lonely and scary being in the darkness with no hope in sight.

     Truth. The previous description is what the truth looks like to someone who is in the darkness. As I reflect on my childhood I will formulate my version of the truth based upon events of the past. I will live in fear and make decisions based upon that fear. I really don't want to be hurt in the future in the same way I was hurt in the past! So, I will live in the darkness, looking back at the hurt, and then looking forward to manage the potential hurt that may (or may not) be coming. When I am living in the darkness I am not living fully in the here and now because I'm looking with fear toward the future, afraid that I will be hurt again in the same ways I was hurt in the past.

     How is it that we can begin to feel acceptable or accepted, and to feel approved of?

     It is through positive affirmation in the form of edifying words designed to lift up the individual hearing them. These words are intended to create the emotional environment where it is OK to mess up, fail at something, or to make mistakes and then admit our wrong-doing or failure, and still be accepted as the person we were created to be. Not holy so much as whole. Not perfect, but made complete through actually being imperfect and hearing, "I'm still OK even though I'm not perfect."

     The lack of positive, loving affirmation from the important "big people" in our lives, creates a hurt that we may or may not acknowledge, and consequently, we may carry that hurt for our entire life. We may not even recognize it when our parent, spouse, teacher or friend is actually speaking those positive, uplifting affirmations into our life. It is not that we have no capacity to accept it, just that we have no training to understand what it is we are hearing. No way to take it in and place it appropriately into our heart.

     I would like to pose a question. Why is it that humans are generally afraid of the dark? I believe the answer is basically one of the following: Fear of the unknown, fear of the unseen, fear of something horrible happening, or fear of being out of control. We are afraid of the darkness inside our heart in much the same way. We try to put all the bad and ugly things away in the deep, dark recesses of our internal being in hopes that they will just go away. We know it's not that easy, and yet we still do it. We push it down in there as far away as possible. Then when someone asks, "How are you today?" we put on a smile and say that we're doing great! Or we express to others something different from what we recently pushed down inside, away from the light.

     Here's where the fear of our internal darkness begins. If someone asks me about something that is pushed away in my heart, I must run the situation through my management filter. What did I say about that the last time it came up? What did I say about it the first time? Is this the first time the subject has come up? What was really going on back then? Oh, no! I am afraid. First of all, I don't even want to acknowledge it. I don't like being trapped in a corner. I am certainly afraid of being "found out." Second, I have to figure out what I said before. Was it a lie? Probably. Was it a lie through omission? Could be. I don't want to be caught in a lie. That would inevitably reveal the truth, too. Then I would appear to be twice as bad. You would never approve of that. That's completely unacceptable. I'm unacceptable. I'm a bad person. I don't want to reveal that to you. I would rather maintain the lie. I'm a liar. I'm a bad person and not worthy of being accepted or approved of. It sure is dark and lonely in here...

     (Job 12:22) "He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings out to light the shadow of death."

     These words are like a double-edge sword. Cutting through the preconceived notion we have that hiding our sins won't matter. So we can see that keeping things hidden in the cavern of our soul will not be in our best interest after all. Our thoughts and desires, both good and bad, are in the darkness until we speak them out loud or write them down.

     For the person who desires to do what is best, these words are filled with God's amazing grace and His tender mercy. We (I'm including myself in this one...) see that God not only uncovers the deep things out of the darkness, but also brings the shadow of death out to the light. In other words, God is revealing the wages of our sin before He actually commutes the sentence - death! How merciful He is, to provide the warning, and to give us time to repent, and turn back to Him for His cleansing.

     For the person who denies that God exists, or desires to remain in the life of sin, these words are the pronouncing of the death sentence. I believe that many people will die in this life without even knowing they had the opportunity to be forgiven for their wickedness. Some might believe they haven't even done anything wrong. Wouldn't it seem like an empty life without the life giving Light of God? The people who desire to continue in their self gratifying lifestyles, will surely be included in the following verse: (Job 12:25) "They grope in the dark without light. He makes them stagger like a drunken man." These are the people who choose to live in sin, or are living in the darkness of their addictions, circumstances and choices. Most don't even realize that God is right now preparing them for their rescue, or their redemption. When God whispers our name, our very existence is usually shaken to the core with the power of His loving kindness. It is no wonder that we are generally afraid of the darkness we have inside.

     I would like to pose yet another question. If we as humans are generally afraid of the dark, why is it that we would consider, consciously or otherwise, living our lives in the darkness for even one second. This concept is puzzling to me. And yet I have spent a considerable amount of my life living in the darkness; some of which was out of my control, and some of which was perpetrated by me. I grew up afraid of the dark. At night, I would attempt to go to sleep by covering my head with the blankets. I would hide in my little sanctuary looking out through the tiny opening I held open with my hand. The darkness scared me then. I did not understand the internal darkness that was growing because I didn't even realize that I could say something to the big people in my life, and that they could actually help me to understand, so I just learned how to hide it all... In the darkness.

     It became simple after a while to hide my emotional pain. I had convinced myself and was completely sure that, "This is just the way things are. This is normal. This is reality." At the time, I did not understand the pain, nor the hiding. I only knew that I needed to avoid certain situations, and certain types of behavior to keep safe from being hurt in the same way I was hurt in the past. I was unaware of, nor could I put a name to any of the specific hurts or emotions I was experiencing.

     So I plodded through my childhood and put on a fake smile or joked around when I needed to, all the while sweeping my feelings under-the-rug. I grew up without the important training of how to recognize, identify and appropriately respond to my emotions. I masked the unknown feelings with things that made me "feel better." I drifted toward sex, drugs and alcohol, music, art, games and activities, even riding my bike. For the majority of my life, all these things combined to become my coping strategy for all the unknown situations I would inevitably encounter.

     What is it about darkness that lures us into believing that we can just put the ugly stuff in there to hide it away? Why do we feel "safe" when we put those unacceptable things we think, do, and say deeply in the farthest recesses of the cavern of our heart? We know in our hearts that it is wrong to hide those things away. God made us that way, and in our hearts we know He means it when He says that all things will be revealed.

     It is the father of all lies himself, Satan, who provides the alluring nature of the darkness. It is, after all, when we "get away with" something that we have the opportunity to place it in the darkness... to hide... from God.

     I'm not saying for a minute that Satan is responsible for our choices. What I'm trying to say here is that there are conditions which can seemingly provide a "place" where we could possibly choose to do something wrong, that we might not normally do - if the conditions were otherwise. So, in part, the darkness is that "place" inside each of us.

     You do or say something that I feel is offensive or hurtful, so in my darkness, I can justify retaliation in any of a number of ways. I am alone, so in my darkness, I can justify looking at pornography on the computer. My co-worker slacks off, so in my darkness, I can justify talking bad about him behind his back. There are way too many examples of retaliation to cover them all here.

     In this place of darkness, triggered by conditions that we may or may not understand or even recognize, we are "free" to do whatever we want. We can too easily create the (false) justification to lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder, gossip, covet, commit adultery, yell, hit, and physically or emotionally or sexually abuse people, even our own family, which, sadly can include our own children. Any or all of these things will definitely cross over the line in the sand.

     That's the powerful effect of the darkness. The absolute truth is this: Whatever it is that I choose to do, whatever, it is my very own choice. In any of the scenarios listed in the previous paragraph, I can choose NOT to do any of those things. Contrary to the common, humorous saying, "The devil made me do it," the devil doesn't make me do anything. I choose to do everything I do. If this darkness concept has any meaning for you or me, we should take a trip into the darkness to explore the fear-filled vastness of it. As I explored the darkness, I became aware of the multitude of rotten things that were hidden there in my very own dark place! I began to be afraid that what I was finding truly revealed the person I really was. I had become just what I didn't want to be: the person who people would hate and never want to be around.

     So, if you aren't afraid of the darkness by now, you could be if you really stopped to think about the choices you have already made because of your "dark place" justifications. What was the last choice you made that hurt another human being, or even yourself? Have you even thought about the consequences they are experiencing because you could justify whatever it was you have done? Have you engaged in a sexual sin, which is a sin against yourself? Have you justified it as though there is no consequence ("It's not hurting anyone, so I'll just do it and hide it away."), so it's alright to do it? Be afraid of your darkness, and especially afraid of how easy it has become to justify committing any kind of sin, no matter how innocent or "small" it may seem at the time.

     Perhaps you are experiencing pain from a choice someone else has made that has hurt you. Doesn't that make you afraid? What choices are you justifying in your dark place that might create the circumstances for you to retaliate for the pain caused by this other person? Are you spending a lot of time thinking about how you've been treated? Are you planning some sort of revenge? Did you get angry and explode immediately? Were your actions or words justified? How did you justify them? "He deserves it?" "She always does the same things to hurt me." Is this justification based upon reality? Is it formulated from within, in the darkness? Is my choice rational or rash? Are my words harsh and hurtful or are they healing? Is my choice bad or good?

     That's what this whole principle of darkness boils down to, one word - Choice.

     It may look something like this: Inevitably, you will have times when there is darkness present in your inner being. Rest assured that it WILL happen. You will have times when it seems the pain is something you can no longer endure. You will have times when unexplainable things will happen right out of the blue. You will have times when you feel good about yourself. You will have times when you feel bad about yourself. You will have times when you must deal with emergencies. You will have times when you must deal with both man-made and natural laws. All of these things, and more, make up the sum of your life experiences. When you are dealing with these things, sometimes more than one at a time, you will experience the darkness attempting to grow within your heart.

     Now, there is a choice. Yes, we are back at that fundamental point. What do you choose to do in the face of all the life experiences that are summing up around you? Do you see the negative as a burden or as a challenge? Do you see the positive as a blessing or do you simply take it for granted that times are good for now? Do your choices reflect your emotions, or do they reflect your understanding of what is truly right and wrong?

     I would like to step out boldly and say that what we choose to do when we are in the darkness is a direct reflection of our character. When our character is based upon the things of this world, we will choose accordingly. When I am angry with you I can justify just about anything to make myself feel better. My choice can be anything at the moment because I don't believe in, nor care about the consequences of my actions. So, my choices will exactly reflect my inner being; my true character, Whether we like it or not, others will be able to witness our actions, and see where we really stand. We all wear our character on our sleeves, so to speak, visible to everyone, especially those who care about us.

     When our character is based, or built, upon the Rock, we also will choose accordingly. If I am angry with you, that is a completely separate issue from making myself feel better. Instead of making the choice to do something to soothe myself, or to make you feel bad, I can turn to the source of all love and receive my comfort there in His presence. I can seek to see you for who you are in His eyes, and I can now genuinely care about my actions hurting you, the consequences of my actions, and especially about hurting God again through turning away and committing sin against Him. He hates our sin, and is saddened by our transgression.

     What happens when I find myself stuck in the darkness?

     During the process of writing this chapter, I found myself stuck. I had writer's block. I ran out of ideas, words to type, and even the desire to continue. How interesting that I would be stuck in the chapter named "In The Darkness." I was stuck in the darkness.

     I was stuck until a few days ago, when I was writing an email to a very good friend. I explained my family's current circumstances, where I was in my musical endeavors, and that I was in a writer's block. The words, blazed into my mind and permanently etched themselves on my heart.

     Two things were revealed to me at that moment: First, I am a human being whose tendency is to drift toward the darkness. Second, I have the desire, the means, the power, the strength, and even the will to make the choice to turn and walk (or run) toward the light!

     I remembered that God had already taken care of my sin, and all I had to do was accept His great gift ... again.

     (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16 is one of the most popular verses in the scriptures. And yet, it is interesting to note that as the next few verses are read, one discovers some other very important truths.

     (John 3:17) "For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him." God sent His Son to save the world! That is a very important truth. We will see in the next verse why God didn't send His Son to judge the world.

     (John 3:18) "He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God." It appears that the judgment has already happened, even before He sent His Son! The contrast here between the non-judgment of the believer and the judgment of the non-believer is particularly convicting to me. If I choose not to believe in the name of the Son of God, then I am already judged, or counted as guilty of all my transgressions. If I do believe, then there is NO judgment for me, the believer! I am forgiven! It is darkness to not believe.

     (John 3:19) "This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil." The nature of the judgment is expressed through describing that the Light came into the world, in our midst, as one of us, and yet men still loved their unacceptable actions. These are the actions, or works, that keep us in the darkness; the actions that really need to have the Light shining upon them.

     (John 3:20) "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed." The alluring nature of the darkness is that we can hide it all away in there, out of sight. Certainly we don't want other people to find out the ugly things we have done. What would they think? We would very much dislike anyone attempting to shed some light on our faults by asking questions and prying in, even to the point of hatred toward the Light. We reject our Savior because He IS the Light. We will remain in the darkness as long as we're without the Light!

     (John 3:21) "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God." I believe that it takes God to turn you to God. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. He calls us individually, each by our own name. He is drawing us into closer relationship with Him. We have a choice: Believe in Him, and in Jesus, or not. When we continue to reject him, the judgment remains. When we finally accept Him (I'm not sure how many times I rejected His call in the first 43 years of my life. I just know that I wasn't listening!), the desire of our heart changes from serving self, to serving God.

     The truth then becomes the most important thing our mouths will ever speak, regardless of the "new" consequences. When my hidden truths finally came to light, many people were hurt, some very deeply. I revealed my evil works into the light, with God's cloak of protection, His tender Mercy, and His amazing Grace! Finally free. The wreckage caused by my choices was everywhere. But it was done in God. And He can rebuild.

     (Job 34:22) "There is no darkness, nor thick gloom, Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves." One of our choices in the darkness is whether or not to reveal those ugly truths that are still hiding there in your darkness. This verse reveals that you can run but you can't hide. This is a truth worth considering if you have been holding on to a secret for some time now. You can't take it to your grave because it is already known. The next verse explains this concept in even greater detail:

     (Luke 12:2-3) "But there is nothing covered up, that will not be revealed, nor hidden, that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light. What you have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers will be proclaimed on the housetops."

     Oh great! Everything will be revealed. Everything thought, said, or done in private will be shouted from the housetops. Consider that for a while, too... If you're hiding something, you are already found out. Can you imagine someone standing up on the roof of your house, with a megaphone, yelling all your secrets for everyone to hear? According to this verse, it will happen to you.

     (Matthew 4:16-17) "The people who sat in darkness saw a great light, To those who sat in the region and shadow of death, To them light has dawned. From that time, Jesus began to preach, and to say, 'Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'"

     Most of us will hear this verse many times in our lifetime. What is it that we feel when we hear it? Repulsion? Rejection? Indifference? Fear? Apathy? Do we say, "This truth doesn't relate to me?" Are we so righteous that there is no sin within us that needs to be confessed and turned away from? Is it just the "Jesus Freaks" that run around on the streets proclaiming, "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?" I believe in my heart that if we don't repent, we'll remain in the darkness.

     What are the choices we now face?

     (Job 38:19-20) "What is the way to the dwelling of light? As for darkness, where is the place of it, That you should take it to the bound of it, That you should discern the paths to the house of it?" In this verse, we are to ponder the origin of the darkness and the light. The questions are rhetorical, of course, causing the discerning reader to realize that someone greater than ourselves actually created both, and established them in their rightful places. We have no control over them, and therefore must simply choose to accept them as they are. Regardless of whether we choose to accept them or not, they are what they are.

     (Proverbs 4:18-19) "But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, That shines more and more until the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They don't know what they stumble over." Here, we are to understand the general consequences of our choices. If I choose to behave wickedly, my way will be like the darkness. Contrary to that, If I behave righteously, by acknowledging I am a sinner, seeking and asking forgiveness, turning away from those things that make me unrighteous, then my path will be like the dawning light. The passage goes on to say that if I continue in righteousness and in the path of light, it will shine more and more until the perfect day. Perhaps this verse is an encouragement to us that we can choose to change and press on into the light!

     (Matthew 6:22-23) "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" We learn here the deeper message of our character. If I am looking toward my Savior in single-mindedness with a single purpose, my whole body will be full of light. Instead, if I am glancing around with no single purpose, I will not be focused upon the most important thing. The evil eye is a wandering eye, and the sound eye is fixed, or stationary. The wandering eye separates me from God, fills me with evil, and therefore darkness. My choice here is to remain focused upon the Lord, or ... not.

     How do I choose what is right?

     God is so amazing! He knew that we would ask this question! So in His infinite wisdom, He gave to us, in advance, the answers to wisdom and understanding that we can actually comprehend and even make the choice to adopt into our behavior. He blessed Solomon, King David's son, with wisdom greater than anyone before or after him, that we would have the benefit of his understanding. Read on...

     (Proverbs 1:1) "The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel:" The source of all wisdom is God. The fact that we have any wisdom at all is to be credited to Him. Solomon was given a greater portion of wisdom and understanding. I'm glad he took some time to write it down!

     (Proverbs 1:2) "To know wisdom and instruction; To discern the words of understanding; The Proverbs are written for you and me. They are God's message teaching us not necessarily how to choose, but how to understand the basis for our choices. He wants us to be instructed in the ways of the righteous, He wants us to see the consequences of our choices, whether good or bad. He wants us to be able to know the difference between our right and wrong choices.

     (Proverbs 1:3) "To receive instruction in wise dealing, In righteousness, justice, and equity;" He wants us to be educated about dealing with others in a positive way. He desires for us to understand how to conduct our business and personal dealings uprightly, while treating all of our individual relationships equally and with fairness.

     (Proverbs 1:4) "To give prudence to the simple, Knowledge and discretion to the young man:" He knows that we are easily led astray, and desires us to be instructed in prudence, making choices based upon our character and understanding. He knows that we are all inexperienced at some point in our lives, and desires us to be helping the less experienced to understand that discretion is a wonderful character trait. The knowledge and understanding that we can pass on to the young people can be the key to good choices made later in their lives.

     (Proverbs 1:5) "That the wise man may hear, and increase in learning; That the man of understanding may attain to sound counsel:" Our goal as wise persons is to keep learning so we can grow deeper in our understanding and that we may through the process of learning get to the point where we can actually provide good and acceptable counsel, or advice, to others in need of hearing the "right" thing.

     (Proverbs 1:6) "To understand a proverb, and parables, The words and riddles of the wise." Through the process of learning, our ultimate goal is to understand the wisdom in the proverbs, the true meaning of the parables, the intelligent words and the complex riddles of the wise.

     The proverbs contain the contrasts between good and evil, the wise and the wicked, the righteous and the unrighteous. The basis for consistently making the right choices is contained somewhere in the proverbs. I have read the proverbs several times, and I KNOW when a particular verse is talking to my heart with the intention of instructing me in the way of prudence and discernment. I know with absolutely no doubt. The Proverbs is YOUR BOOK. Spend much time there. Grow wiser in understanding, for...

     (Psalms 18:28) "For you will light my lamp, Yahweh. My God will light up my darkness."

     (Daniel 2:22) "He reveals the deep and secret things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

     There now, as we took the time to discuss the depths of our darkness, we discovered that we all potentially have a dark place within us. We have exposed the truth that everything will be known. We have even thought about some of the sad and terrible things we have done to ourselves and others. And, if you are anything like me, you have attempted to justify some of those things.

     However, the most important thing you have done is to begin to bring all those things into the light. And, as you reflect on those hurtful, controlling, demeaning, demanding, disrespectful, lustful, and greedy actions and thoughts, take some time to write them down. Give those things a place to live besides hidden away in your heart! Shine the light of day upon them. Shed tears for the sadness you feel about the hurt you've caused. Pray to God, and in the glorious name of Jesus, ask for cleansing and forgiveness. Your sins, and the pain will have crossed the line in the sand ... from the darkness into the Light!

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