One summer my family decided it would be fun to raise backyard chickens. I went to the farm store and returned with ten tiny chicks. We put them in a bin in the basement with wood shavings and a heat lamp, and I enjoyed their tiny cheep cheep cheeps as I went about my daily tasks. When they had grown into a gangly mix of fluff and feathers and were no longer content to stay inside their bin, we moved them outside to the chicken coop.
We had attached a large run to the coop, but still thought it would be nice to let the chicks out to roam around the yard. So out they came. They scratched in the soft dirt of the raspberry patch, gobbled bugs, and hunkered under the shrubs. After an hour or two of letting them wander, I was ready to be done chicken-sitting. Unfortunately, the chicks weren’t interested in returning to the coop.
First, we tried to catch them, but we didn’t have the squat-down-and-let-you-pick-them-up kind of chickens, so our efforts resulted in a lot of rushing about for both humans and birds.
Next, my teenage son suggested we could herd them into the coop. He found a long, wooden pole and, running in a half crouch with the pole held low to the ground, attempted to direct the chickens back to their home.
The chicks ran — just not toward the coop.
Then we recruited other family members. Several of us surrounded one bird at a time, closing in until someone managed to grab the cornered cockerel. Another family member manned the coop door, yanking it open so the squawking fowl could be deposited inside, and slamming it closed so no birds escaped. Finally, we managed to get all ten chickens back inside their house.
We repeated this process several times over the following weeks, but because chicken chasing is tedious work, we waited longer and longer each time. One day as we procrastinated returning the hens to the coop, we discovered a much easier method. We simply had to leave the door open and as the sunlight faded, the chickens returned to the coop all on their own. As darkness closed in around them, they instinctively sought their place of safety.
We all experience darkness — physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sin (our own or that of loved ones), tragedy, illness, disappointment, depression, loss, and a host of other struggles can bring darkness into our lives.
When the darkness creeps in, or sometimes bursts through, where is our place of safety?
Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency said, “When tragedies overtake us, when life hurts so much we can’t breathe, when we’ve taken a beating like the man on the road to Jericho and been left for dead, Jesus comes along and pours oil into our wounds, lifts us tenderly up, takes us to an inn, looks after us. To those of us in grief, He says, ‘I will. . . ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, . . . that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions’” (Sharon Eubank, “Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness,” April 2019 General Conference).
Jesus heals wounds.
He carries burdens.
He offers a safe haven.
Proverbs 18:10 tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
We don’t have to run far.
One of my favorite promises the Savior has made is, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63). As soon as we make an effort — any effort — to draw near to Him, He is working to close the distance and offer us safety.
When we go to Him on our knees, pouring out our hearts in earnest, pleading prayer, He is there to hear our plea, to grant us peace, to lend us strength. He does not leave us alone.
When we seek Him in the scriptures, we will find Him — teaching, guiding, inviting.
He implores, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
He wants us to come to Him, but doing so has to be our choice. He won’t try to herd us. He won’t capture us and throw us inside the strong tower. Instead, He stands with arms outstretched, ready to encircle us, to provide rest and solace. Safety in the darkness.
Jesus Christ knows the dark places. He has been to all of them. Because of His Atonement, He knows all of our experiences intimately. He has felt your pain, your sorrow, your despair. He knows what succor you need and how to heal your wounds.
He is the Light in your darkness.
His door is open.
You can run to Him and find safety.
Cami lives in Idaho with her husband, various family members who come and go, and an energetic Siberian husky. She volunteers as a costume director/seamstress for the drama department at her local high school where she gets to make elaborate clothing most people don’t wear in real life—which is what makes it so fun. She enjoys reading, bird watching, gardening, and Zumba, but her greatest joy comes from being with her family.