A Reflection on Stomping Out the Darkness: Chapter 1

Hey, everyone! Sorry that I've been a bit lazy these days to keep the blog up and running. Today, I've decided to do a reflection on the first chapter of  Stomping Out The Darkness, a Christian book which is authored by Neil Anderson and Dave Park. Here's a quick summary.

Neil takes over this chapter, jumping to action immediately. He tells you to imagine that it's the first day of the school year. You skid into the your preassigned chair a split second after the tardy bell, and the teacher stands up. She says, "I want all of you to introduce yourself to the class. She tells the class that she will be starting from the latest to the earliest and points a gnarled finger at you. "Who are you?" she yips. You say your name loud enough for the whole room to hear. She says, "Wrong. That's your name. Who are you?" You start to sweat. "I'm the student body president." "Wrong again, that's what you do." You say your nationality. "No, that's where you live." you say your church denomination. "Sorry, that's where you go to church." You answer questions about who you are, like star quarterback, homecoming queen, etc. Neil goes on to say that those people aren't you, because they are based on things you could lose anytime, such as physical or mental capacity or the beauty you have. He tells us a story about Dave Dravecky, former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants who
underwent surgery for cancer in his pitching arm. The doctors thought he would never play professional baseball again, but Dave was not a doctor. On August 10 the following year, he returned to the mound and won an unbelievable victory for his team. Sadly, he breaks his arm again at his next game just five days later. The doctors had no choice but to have it amputated.

Dave's life changed drastically as he realized there were more important things than baseball, such as his family and his being a child of God. He said, "When I came home from the hospital, I realized that all my son, Jonathan, wanted to do was hug me and play football on the lawn. All my daughter, Tiffany wanted to do was to hug me, and all Jan, my wife, wanted was her husband back. They didn't care whether I had an arm or not... It was enough that I was alive and I was home." He made a comeback as a motivational speaker later on. What Neil is trying to get across is that we must put our identity on eternal things, not on material things which fade away, like what we look like or can do. Dave Park then butts in on the fun and says that understanding who we are is fundamental in being a child of God. 

The narrator is once again Neil. He starts a story about a 17-year old girl named Mary who drove a great distance to talk with him. Mary was cover-girl pretty who had finished 12 years of education in 11 years, graduating with a grade point average of 4.0. She got a sports car for her graduation from her parents. She had everything going good for her. On the outside, at least. After about half an hour of talking with Neil, he has found out that, inside, she's far from having it together. She soon admitted in tears that she sometimes cried herself to sleep at night wishing she was someone else. Neil then moves on and says people often put up masks to hide their true selves. Somehow, the world has rooted in our minds to keep a certain status of beauty, intelligence, or strength, and doing so will keep us emotionally stable, which is not true, as proven here in Mary's case. As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!... Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" He's trying to say that even he, the wisest man who ever lived, and one of the richest men too, said that all the stuff and status on earth won't give us the personal wholeness and connection to God we need and naturally want.

Neil also tells you that the world has taught us to buy into the popularity-equals-meaning equation, and that most people are trying to make it add up. The majority of people think that if a particular person has nothing, he or she is hopeless when it comes to finding happiness.Which is false. He gives an example of a plump, ugly guy who works hard and always gets C's. He asks if there's any hope in finding happiness for that guy, and as we know, most kids would say no (it's not meant to rhyme, really) . But that's not necessarily true. He can always shape up and become better, but most people don't really consider that. A happy life is normally related to good looks and relationships with popular people. But in God's kingdom, the popularity/success-equals-happiness and failure-equals-hopelessness do not exist. Everyone has the exact same opportunity for a meaningful life, as God views everyone as equal. Another reason is because identity, wholeness, and meaning comes from the acceptance of act of Christ's self-sacrifice. Neil informs you that the faulty equations of the world are warped by Satan, to prevent us from knowing who we truly are.

My thoughts

So that's a quick summary of this book's first chapter. Pretty long, huh? And that's not all of it. Neil goes on to say... I'm kidding, I'm kidding! I won't bore you with all the other details. Now, let's reflect on this chapter. Okay, this chapter is mostly about finding our identity in Jesus Christ. This is very important to some of you readers, the reason being that you buy into popularity-equals-happiness equation and you despair because you don't find fulfillment. I hope this helps you. The only identity equation that satisfies our souls' longing is the equation of you plus Christ equals wholeness and meaning. This is the only equation that exists in God's kingdom, and the most reasonable in all existence. Personally, I only find doubts about my identity from a daydream or two, but like most rational people, I brush them off and focus on the things at hand, for some of these daydreams are a bit illogical. This also has a few illustrations about the original design of the people God meant us to be, and the people we have been tainted into by Satan, and then the sterilized version of us, which is walking in the Holy Spirit, which is the longing of our souls. 

The idea of this chapter is that we must find our identity in eternal things, not temporal ones. Neil wishes for us to understand who we are, and what our identity is based on. Our identity is on Jesus, the Rock Who stands. Mr. Anderson has helped me, at the very least, to realize, that this is why most people, especially the rich commit suicide. It's because they don't have Jesus to satisfy their souls' needs. Yes, they have all their earthly needs, but there's a longing in all our hearts and souls for the connection with our Creator. That, my friends, is what we all need and want.


Comments

  1. Wow! Great work, Jed! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the first chapter of Stomping Out the Darkness.

    I like how you nailed the bottom line - "The only identity equation that satisfies our souls' longing is the equation of you plus Christ equals wholeness and meaning. "

    I'm curious to hear you read this article aloud. Thanks, son! I love you and I'm so proud of you.

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