Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about the darkness and the abyss humans frequently find themselves gazing into:
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
I can’t help but think of this ministry that Jennifer and I am called to. And the two young people who wandered into our lives in the last week, both abused, one abandoned, asking not so much for help but just to let someone know they are alive, hoping they are not alone.
For Nietzsche, the abyss — the darkness — was a mirror that reflected the worst elements of ourselves. And he’s not wrong.
But we also struggle against, as St. Paul wrote, no mere flesh and blood, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) And because of this, I am learning something about the darkness, about this abyss. It is not simply a mirror that reflects our own horrors, an image of who we really are or can be.
It has being unto itself. The darkness, the abyss, doesn’t simply stare back. It growls, lowly and with real menace. It breathes, its breath is wet and heavy and putrid. It rustles and its paws at you, and you can sometimes feel the currents left in the wake of its swipes.
But this darkness is not all powerful. I am reminded of the words of John’s gospel:
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. he light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4–5 ESV)
There are a couple of young people I cannot name right now that I’d like you all to keep praying for. They have reached out of the darkness they have been cast into toward the light — the light of Christ reflected off of me — and they seek a way out of their darkness. Pray for them.
And pray for me, and for Jennifer. Because as terrifying as the darkness, the abyss, is, some of us are called to walk into it. To carry light. To be light. Knowing that that darkness has not, and cannot, overcome it.