Offering Our Darkness To God
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”
How many of us align ourselves with the chief priests and elders? Perhaps we say, “Surely not I, Lord”; it’s a rather uncomfortable thought. Maybe we’re more like the tax collectors, but I’ll say one thing: I don’t like being associated with either of these. My first instinct is to ask: how can I distance myself from them? The age-old adage might ring true here - the only way to the other side is to go through it. So we ask ourselves, “How much am I like them? Where are these qualities I dislike so much in others, in myself?” Recognising these likenesses gives rise to the opportunity to change, to truly distance ourselves from them.
In what way do I say, “Yes, Father,” and then do not do what the Father has asked of me? Every day I am presented with many opportunities to choose to love others better than my previous actions have done. I certainly have my own trigger points that lead me back into actions or words that do not reflect Christ’s love. It is exhausting work to struggle through my own past and address areas that I have been hurt so that I can learn to respond better to my neighbour. It is exhausting and necessary. It is often a readily dismissed work in the vineyard.
This task is nothing less than committing to do work that the Father has asked of us. To be willing to look at our past, to go into the places that hurt the most (sometimes it is necessary to have a professional companion in doing this, such as a counsellor) so that we can name it and offer this place of darkness to God. Can we really offer all of ourselves to God in this way?
Ultimately we know that God does not let darkness win. It is God who can take what evil has influenced and make something good out of it, which is his glory revealed. Irenaeus wrote that “the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.” Another rendering of the second half translates as, “the life of the human is the vision of God”, where the emphasis is on the human’s need for God’s vision; to have life is to have the vision of God. How can we give our past over to God, who is the only one that can re-create it in his own image?
We are now in the third week of Advent. Many churches offer reconciliation services in the weeks leading up to Christmas. May this Advent help us to uncover the areas in our life that still need the touch of his grace in re-creation, in reconciliation. Through this work, we can offer our worship to God with our whole being and we can be reassured that this is one way to do the work of the Father in the vineyard: allowing him to sanctify our lives. This indeed is one way we can embrace God’s vision of humanity. May this delivering up of ourselves, especially the dark areas that look like the chief priests and/or tax collectors, truly help us to proclaim through our lives the glory that belongs to God.
 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, ed. Kevin Knight. n.d. https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103420.htm (accessed 04 02, 2022), Book IV, chapter 20, no. 7.
 Mary Ann Donovan, "Alive to the Glory of God: A Key Insight in St. Irenaeus," Theological Studies 49 (1988), 283: gloria enim Dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei.
When we cast all of our darkness on God, we don’t need to name specific things if our intention is to cast all of it, because our human weakness (law of sin) impacts every aspect of our life (cf. Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:14 thru 8:2). This simplifies the process of giving our entire selves over to God. Scripture tells us how to do this. See Philippians 4:6-7; 1Peter 5:5-7; James 4:5-10; Galatians 5:16-26; Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 6:25-34, 11:28-30; Psalms 37:7, 55:22; Isaiah 26:3-4, 30:15, 55:6-9; John 6:63; Romans 13:14; 6:13; 8:28.
I'm learning to allow God, in Jesus's Name,to fight my battles,and even when I've been defeated in a certain area,I ask God to help me to say,"It is well with my soul!"