So there I was in the hotel shower, wearing nothing but a layer of soap bubbles when everything went black. Seriously black. Not a glimmer of light, not even when my eyes should have adjusted. We’d had to rebook the hotel as our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather, and the only room they could offer us was quite pleasant, but it only had a bath tub, and no shower. However, they breezily informed us, there was a shower we could use downstairs, if we wished. It was an OK shower, but in a closet under the stairs, behind a room used to store some cleaning equipment. The maid had come in for something and shut off the light behind her on her way out, not realising I was mid-scrub! Of course I shouted. I bellowed. But to no avail. What to do? Standing there naked, wet and soapy in unfamiliar territory was not the perfect start to my holiday I had envisaged! Still, little by little I managed to touch my way around, rinse myself off, and discover where I had put the towel, so I could feel my way to the light switch. Ohhhhh the relief! But I can tell you that I know what darkness, real darkness looks like. And feels like.
Pharaoh got to see and feel that sort of darkness (Exodus 10:21-29) and there was no switch to flick for him. But it wasn’t the lack of light that really got to him. Pharaohs believed they were descended from Ra, the sun god, the one who held the power of light. For them, an eclipse was a short time when Ra had been defeated. Three days of darkness demonstrated only too clearly that the God of Moses was the one who held the ultimate power. God was Lord. God was supreme; there was no escaping his authority. The Israelites might have been happy to go and worship their God, but Pharaoh was still holding out, kicking and screaming. He would not submit to the power of Almighty God; not even if it cost him everything. He cut off all lines of communication, and Moses left him to face the consequences. No more could be done to help him.
Ever been there? You cannot escape the fact that God is God. Yet there is some area of your life you don’t want to accept his lordship over. Prayer gets hard, the bible stops speaking. We kick and scream, and roll out every theological argument to persuade ourselves we have got it right, and we do not need to listen to that niggling voice inside. Pharaoh’s answer was the wrong one. Cutting off communication from the only one that can help you find peace is just not how to resolve the issue. Moses had told Pharaoh what he needed to do, but in the end he chose to pay the price of resisting God.
Whatever we think about him, God is God. And he loves us and wants the very best for us. We can chose to listen, trust him, give ourselves afresh to him, and come back into peace, or we can choose to pay the price of resisting him. Seeing it like that, it’s a no-brainer.