Swiftly flee the clouds of darkness;
Speedily the mists retire;
Nature’s universal blackness
Is consumed by heav’nly fire,
Is consumed by heav’nly fire.
While this is an excellent and joyful Second Coming hymn, this third verse made me think of a scene in C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle,” the final book in the Narnia series. There is a scene where there is a kind of false Aslan being kept in a stable and an ape named Shift, the brains of the deception, is interpreting “Aslan’s” will for the Narnians. Things come to a head and Tirian, last king of Narnia, forces his way into the stable door only to find it has become a kind of bridge into a world where the real Aslan rules, along with the Pevensie children and all the other faithful Narnians, living and dead.
Under those deep blue skies and soft summer breeze and trees laden with fruit, a ring of dwarves sit exactly where they were tossed into the stable at the start of the scuffle. They are blind to the paradise around them and convinced they are still sitting in the stable, even as Lucy is begging them to see their surroundings.
“Your wonderful Lion didn’t come and help you, did he?” they jeer. “And now–even now–when you’ve been beaten and shoved into this black hole, just the same as the rest of us, you’re…starting a new lie.”
Aslan’s response is that they have “chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they can not be taken out” (Chapter 13).
They have chosen cunning instead of belief.
This phrase cuts me to the heart, because I have done this exactly. I have chosen knowledge over faith, becoming “wise in [my] own eyes, and prudent in [my] own sight” (Isaiah 5:21). I have done this because there is a kind of safety in it. Choosing knowledge is building yourself an edifice with your own hands. Choosing faith is admitting that your vessel is cracked and needs to be constantly refilled.
“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel” (D&C 45:28, emphasis added).
Let this hymn be a reminder that we don’t have to sit in darkness. We will still have trials and have our bodies broken, our heartstrings rent, our beloveds suffer. However, by spreading the Good Word around, we have a chance to spread that light as well as take it into our lives and hearts to refine us, to warm us, to comfort us.
When the world will be at rest,
Rapidly is drawing nearer;
Then all Israel will be blest,
Then all Israel will be blest.