A Paradox in Song

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 9/18/2007

Sometimes I think too much. There are times that I will see a quote or statement and I start thinking in detail about what it is saying. Sometimes, the person who said it did not intend for it to say what it says. Church signs are bad about this. After reading some of the things that appear on church signs, it is a wonder that we ever have any lost visitors come through our doors.

The other day, I saw a quote on Erynn Mangum’s blog. The quote said, “I would rather walk with God in the dark… than to go alone in the light.” The quote comes from the Mary G. Brainard song He Knows. I am sure that what Mary Brainard intended and the way Erynn Mangum took it was to say that even the worst of places with God is better than the best of places without him. If we take a closer look at the statement, it seems to be saying something else.

Usually, when the term in the light is spiritualized, we are referring to being in the light of Jesus. Darkness when spiritualized, is referring to being separated from God. Walk into an adult Sunday school classroom and ask, “what does it mean to be in the light?” and they will answer that it means to be saved. So, the song gives us a paradox. If we walk with God, we are in the light. If we are in the dark, we are not with God. We can neither walk with God in the dark nor go alone in the light.

So why does this matter? It doesn’t. There may not be another person on the face of the planet who cares to pick apart this song that has been around for more than a hundred years. The important thing is to walk with God and he will provide the light that you need.