On Being Twilight Seekers in a World that Fears the Dark

Twilight can be hopeful or discouraging, but it completely depends on what time of day one thinks it is. Seeing the twilight as the sunset before a long dark night rather than the dawn before the coming bright day makes all the difference. It is not our observations of light mingled with darkness that alone must inform our minds. What our eyes behold can be deceptive without the proper perspective. Without an external truth to guide us, our senses and feelings can mislead us. It is so easy to jump to conclusions when all we do is look at specific circumstances or symptoms. Something as simple as looking at a clock in the midst of our confusion has the power to change our minds completely.

As time stretches forward, the world has an uneasy feeling that we are in the twilight before a darkening age. Mankind knows deep down that something is off in our ever-expanding fabricated utopia. The promises of our perfect modern life seem hollow and what we find in the midst of the hustle and bustle seems more like polished brass than pure gold, but this is the perspective of those that have nothing to look forward to. For the people of the light the twilight holds no fear. Twilight to us should be the signal of hopeful things to come. Soon the sun will rise and the eternal day will begin.

The interesting aspect of this line of thinking though, is that we are meant to be twilight seekers who live in a world that fears the dark. We are fish swimming up stream while everything else is flowing down. How do we cultivate a home of hope in a world that seeks to propagate an atmosphere of fear and despair? What they see as the coming of night, we see as the coming of a brighter and better day.

In our modern world developing ambiance seems as simple as lighting a scented candle. If the house smells like wet pets or stinky socks, just light a match. Instantly, orchards full of apple blossoms or snowy pine groves fill our rooms. Though this might work for the unwanted smells we want to mask, what do we do when the breezes of the world we live in bring unpleasant and unwanted despair or even terror? Yankee candle factory does not make a scent called “Hope.” We must build a home atmosphere of hope that is more potent than any scents carried on the wind.

Atmosphere is the sum total of a person’s or a family’s life. It is the scent of daily living all rolled together and inhaled by those that are with them. Real home atmosphere can never be mass produced, bottled, or bagged. If we want the influence of something added into the ambiance of our life, then we will have to add it. No apple pie in a jar here, just the effort of making a real apple pie.

Before Joshua and the children of Israel entered the promise land, Moses gave them his final words. Near the beginning we find Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Here we are given God’s plan for making a home atmosphere. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

The Jews were guilty of missing the point of these verses. This is not a list of formal rules that can be accomplished by placing mezuzahs on our doorposts or wearing phylacteries on our foreheads and wrists. This is a living idea, not a list of decorations. Christ put it this way, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” What is important to us, what moves us, what we think about, what we talk about, what we spend our money on, develops consciously or unconsciously our home atmosphere.

Let’s go back to the scented candle for a moment. If your children were asked to make a candle that represents your home, a candle that is the sum total of what is important to you and your spouse, what do you think it would smell like? Before you answer, maybe you should plan to take some time soon and actually ask your children. We might just be surprised by their answers.

Many years ago, a new missionary co-worker was visiting. We were talking about Easter since it was fast approaching. In a moment I’ll never forget, Andrew turned and asked my eldest daughter what Easter was all about. “Easter is about bunnies, colored eggs, and chocolate!” was the reply. Now there is nothing wrong with a little candy and fun, but at that moment Patty and I realized that maybe the atmosphere we wanted was not the real atmosphere we had produced. We did not stop eating Easter eggs and chocolate, but we did become much more intentional about adding the Resurrection story into that season of our life. Nature abhors a vacuum and so does life. If we do not work on something intentionally, circumstances will fill up life with its own emphases. 

There are lots of ways that we make an emphasis in our lives, but one of the quickest and most powerful is through the words we hear and the words we speak. Words give ideas, and ideas received are like seeds. They will produce troublesome things like skunk cabbage, or they can produce refreshing things like lavender. In our home we are seeking to fill our lives with words of beauty, truth, faith, hope, and love. There will always be times that our ears catch the sounds of harsh words, fearful words, and hateful words, but that does not mean we have to make altars for them in our homes. For us this looks like less news and more scripture, less scrolling and more stories, poetry and songs, limited media and more play. In this philosophy we do not see life so much as sacred and secular {for everything that speaks of truth can draw us closer to the One True God}, but more of what is helpful and hurtful. Robert Louis Stevenson put it like this, “Fiction is to the grown man what play is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life.” In all we place before our eyes and put into our ears, we try to ask ourselves a question: does this follow God’s instructions found in Philippians 4:8? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

In our efforts to obey these words, we are seeking to build a home with an atmosphere of hope.

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