One of our responsibilities on our mission in Moscow, Russia was to teach an Institute class in English each week. As part of the lesson one evening I planned to share a video. When the time came I asked, “would one of you mind getting up and turning on the dark?” As you might imagine, a fun conversation ensued. Because I’m such a teaser I egged them on, and we went around and round about light verses dark, and which has power over the other.
Let’s talk about the dark
I’m not truly afraid of the dark. Are you? But, being in the dark is uncomfortable – even in our own homes, a familiar place. When it’s dark we feel uneasy, we bump into things that we know are there, but we now can’t see …they become obstacles to us. We have a difficult time in making things out.
In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear, reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there, and wonder if there are things lurking that might get us.
We are easily fooled in the dark, presented one thing but told it is something entirely different. (Think of the haunted houses you went through as a child, where peeled grapes were presented as eyeballs and wet pasta as brains).
How about doing a simple task in the dark, like coloring a picture? We can’t see the lines that are provided for us to stay inside of to make our picture lovely. When the lights come up we have drawn all over the page, all out of the lines; something we would not normally do. (Well, I can only speak for myself, I’ve not seen any of you color.)
What about doing a complicated task in the dark? Anyone here want to undergo brain surgery while the hospital is in a total blackout?
Being in the dark causes distress, confusion, and problems. Thank you,Thomas Edison.
Could darkness also play role in our spirituality? Absolutely!
Why would the adversary want us in the dark? Because then we are more easily confused and deceived, we are more accepting of inappropriate things, more likely to question truths and standards we have known and lived by. These things make us more prone to sin, thus losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost, leaving us more and more alone to face “the father of all lies” who, as Nephi tells us, “…seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2Ne 2: 18, 27). It’s a terrible and predictable cycle downward. Simply put, it makes his devilish job much easier.
In his remarks to priesthood bearers of the Church, entitled “Bearers of Heavenly Light,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave these thoughts on spiritual darkness:
“Darkness reduces our ability to see clearly. It dims our vision of that which was at one time plain and clear. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to make poor choices because we cannot see dangers in our path. When we are in darkness, we are more likely to lose hope because we cannot see the peace and joy that await us if we just keep pressing forward.”
“Satan will make every effort to create a shadow or get us into a shadow of our own making. He will coerce us to create our own eclipse; he will push us into the darkness of his cavern.”
Spiritual darkness can draw a veil of forgetfulness around even those who once walked in the light and rejoiced in the Lord. Nevertheless, even in moments of greatest darkness, God hears our humble petitions, as we pray, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (1)
Journeying in the light or dark
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”
In the King James version of the Bible the footnotes for these verses clarify what is being taught. In verse 18 they tell us that “the just” are those who are righteous, and that “shineth” denotes “spiritual discernment.” What does discernment mean? To be able to see something clearly for what it is, not to be tricked or deceived. So, what would spiritual discernment mean then? To see things of a spiritual nature clearly.
With these clarifications we see that those who are obedient have light to see by on their mortal journey. Those who are wicked stumble along their paths in darkness, unable to see clearly the things around them, easily confused, deceived, or fearful.
What is the light?
So, what is the light that the obedient have?
“This is the light of Christ” (2) “…which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (3)
It is that spark of divinity within us all that prompts us as to what is right and wrong, and guides us to truth, though not to be confused with the Holy Ghost whose job it is to testify of the truth once we have found it. And surprise, we all have it! Each of us came to mortality with light. It is part of our spiritual DNA. But, its ability to illuminate things for us, as we have just learned, is dependent upon our obedience to God’s laws.
President Uchtdorf also spoke of the blessing of having this light in our lives:
“Light, on the other hand, allows us to see things as they really are. It allows us to discern between truth and error, between the vital and the trivial. When we are in the light, we can make righteous choices based on true principles. When we are in the light, we have “a perfect brightness of hope” because we can see our mortal trials from an eternal perspective.” (4)
In speaking of spiritual sickness, he gave this simple yet profound diagnosis for those whose testimonies are weak or failing:
“Whatever causes our spiritual ailments, they all have one thing in common: the absence of divine light.” (5)
Most of us have at some time in our lives felt distant from our Heavenly Father. At these times it is vital to remember these words:
“When the darkness of night falls, we do not despair and worry that the sun is extinguished. We do not postulate that the sun is not there or is dead. We understand that we are in a shadow, that the earth will continue to rotate, and that eventually the rays of the sun will reach us once again.
Darkness is not an indication that there is no light. Most often, it simply means we’re not in the right place to receive the light.” (6)
“For change to take place, we need to actively let the light in.”(7)
Dispel the darkness and come into the light
It fills the earth.
And it can fill every heart.
“God is no respecter of persons.” His light is available to all—great or small, rich or poor, privileged or disadvantaged.
If you open your mind and heart to receive the Light of Christ and humbly follow the Savior, you will receive more light. Line upon line, here a little and there a little, you will gather more light and truth into your souls until darkness has been banished from your life.” (8)
Hear the Savior’s own testimony and promise:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (9)
Following Jesus Christ brings us spiritual light
We have the power to turn off the spiritual darkness in our lives by turning to “the light of the world.” Through our actions, and His grace, our path can be made clearer before us. We will see truth from error plainly. We will have hope in whatever our circumstance. We will stand firmly on the sure foundation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of the blowing false winds of society. And our light will shine brightly to others in the dark, drawing those with an honest seeking heart towards the Savior.
 “Bearers of Heavenly Light”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, Nov. 2017
 Doctrine & Covenants 88:7
 John 1:9
 John 8:12