The Love of Christ Compels Us

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

Through our work, we can push back the darkness.
By: Rachel Marie Kang

There I was, just sitting and sinking cozy into my bed while holding my newborn. I didn’t want the moment to end; I didn’t want the season to end. I wanted to stay there for all of time, soaking in every precious second, one by one by one.

But I couldn’t — because, already, two months had passed. My maternity leave was coming to an end, and soon I’d have to make my way back to work. I’d have to send the emails and fix the problems . . . make the calls, wake up early, and do the hard stuff.

I dreaded it and lamented the fact that I couldn’t linger with this sweet life I was learning to love. But then — I read something in the book Creation Rediscovered by Hebrew Bible scholar Jeffery M. Leonard.

There I was, reading about the ancient creation story, of the serpent hissing whispers of shame, of the forbidden fruit and the inevitable fall of man. I read about the woman taking a bite and indelibly breaking the heart of God . . . and the story of God’s breaking — of God breaking up the darkness and bringing forth light.

God stares out into the abyss, the great, magnificent nothing, and He speaks, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). Time and space stand still as He wills the suspension of celestial light to push back the boundaries of darkness. Then He laces land around the wild waters, calls the work of His hands good, and readies the world to sustain life while this new light shines forth.

It is here — as God pushes back the darkness — where Leonard prompts us to ponder the first lingering of the looming possibility of the hard and terrible things that happen in our lives.

Because, truly, our stories first begin with the fold of darkness, not with the inevitable fall and the forbidden fruit. Our stories begin when God creates boundaries to contain and control the darkness and the deep. Our stories begin with the world that God calls good but that He still allows to remain with “a sense of wildness and chaos that must yet be controlled,” as Leonard writes.

Could it be that God, in His infinite power, plans a partnership with man in this work of pushing back the darkness, long before He even breathed life into man’s lungs?

Leonard goes on to write that “God charges humankind with taking up the divine mantle of creating and working to push back the boundaries of this chaos still further.” And, it is within this tension of a “controlled chaos” that has not been completely cast away that God ultimately initiates tikkun olam, a Judaic concept that defines this tension as God’s purpose of leaving room for repair in this world. A plan that God invites us to participate in, a work of — through our work and our witness — pushing back the darkness in this world, of tending to this wild planet, of tending to our own wild hearts, and of being a part of restoring all things to the way they could and should be — to shalom, to peace.

God’s plan wasn’t simply to save us from the inevitability of sin. His desire all along was that we would live and long to push back the darkness, just like Him, forever holding our gaze upon His goodness and His great light. This is what compels me to create, work, toil, and love like Jesus. 

We work and write and create and love as a way of climbing back toward the light. Yes, we work and write and create and love as a way of pushing back the darkness within ourselves and within our world.

This was the very revelation that gave me the freedom, even the excitement to return back to the world and work. Turns out . . . I had a job to do — love to lavish, not only on a newborn baby but on a broken world.

Might this be true for all of us, even when we are worn and weary and wary?

Might we long to create and care and work and love as His light shines through our lives? Can we trust, even though the world is dark and filled with evil and wickedness at every turn, that, “Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 5:3, NLT)?

Could it be that the spinning together of words with black ink on blank pages might help make sense of all that doesn’t make sense in the world? Could it be that teaching in schools, writing for publications, parenting our children, sculpting creations, and serving salads at the diner or at home for dinner, might bring peace, truth, and hope into our lives and world?

No matter the sin, no matter the sorrow. No matter the darkness, no matter the immorality . . . He is with us — working in and through us.

Even now, I imagine you, doing everything you possibly can to see and serve the world before you. I see you, no longer fumbling behind coverings or hiding in shame, no longer feeling pushed out by darkness but brought into light . . . and sharing that light, too.

This is an adaptation from Let There Be Art.


Rachel Marie Kang is a New York native, born and raised just outside New York City. A mixed woman of African American, Native American (Ramapough Lenape Nation), Irish, and Dutch descent, she holds a degree in English with Creative Writing, and a minor in Bible. She is founder of The Fallow House and her writing has been featured in Christianity Today, Ekstasis, Proverbs 31 Ministries, She Reads Truth, and (in)courage. Rachel is the author of Let There Be Art and The Matter of Little Losses.

Connect with Rachel!

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment