In 1875, a beautiful, young woman named Blanche Monnier from Poitiers, France, was engaged to be married. She was from a wealthy family, but her fiancé was not. Her mother did not approve of the man she chose to be her future husband.
All of a sudden, she went missing. Her fiancé did not know what had happened to her, and it was quickly determined that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. Years went by without any trace of her. It would take over 25 years to find out what happened.
In 1901, police in Poitiers were notified that a woman was being held hostage in the attic of the home of the wealthy Monnier family. The police found Blanche in a locked room there. The windows of the room had been boarded up with no light coming in. She had been there for all those years, imprisoned by her mother. Scraps of food thrown into the room had kept her alive.
We are not surprised by the description of what the police saw. Blanche was filthy and was a skeleton of her former self. In fact, they did not recognize at first who she was. She certainly did not look like the beautiful socialite and debutante the city knew from 25 years earlier.
Being deprived of light and fellowship with other people for that long had obviously had terrible consequences on this woman. In addition to the filth on her body, she was physically weak. She had not had any kind of exercise for over two decades. She weighed less than 60 pounds. Her mind had been altered and would never be the same. She could only say a few words when the police spoke to her.
This, of course, is a horrible story. All who read Blanche’s story wonder at the level of evil her mother had succumbed to in order to do this to her own daughter. It defies explanation. Blanche was the victim of things over which she had no control. In 1875, this beautiful young woman had no idea of what her life would become as she was preparing for a wedding and a life with a new husband. The picture of her before she entered that dark room in 1875 and the picture of what she looked like in 1901 are such a contrast that all who see them say that that cannot be the same person.
Blanche did not deserve what happened to her. Certainly, no one would do something like that to herself. But the Bible tells us that in one sense there are some people who voluntarily lock themselves in a dark room. If they remain in that room, the consequences will be just as dramatic as the changes that happened to Blanche.
I am speaking of spiritual things and of a spiritual dark room. The Bible teaches us that God’s Word is a light (Ps 119:105; 1 John 1:7). As believers, we can take advantage of that light as we read and meditate on that Word.
But we also need the fellowship of other believers. We are placed into the body of Christ and need one another (1 Cor 12:12-20). What would happen to our spiritual health if we were deprived of these things? If we withdrew into a metaphorical room where we stopped reading and thinking upon the Word of God? What would it do to our spiritual health if we stopped fellowshipping with other believers? Wouldn’t that be like shutting ourselves up in a room where there was no light or human interaction?
I think the Lord gives a parable which teaches us about these truths. He uses real life things to describe such spiritual darkness. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son withdraws from fellowship with his father. He finds himself in a foreign land, feeding on the scraps of food thrown to him to feed the pigs (Luke 15:11-20).
Can you imagine what he would have looked like if he had kept doing that for years? He would have been weak, dirty, and mentally affected. While that would be true physically, it was also true in regard to his relationship with his father. Fortunately, he left the mud and scarcity of the pig pen and returned to his father.
The story of Blanche is heartbreaking. What happened to her physically is a picture of what many believers inflict upon themselves. When believers stop studying God’s Word and meeting with other believers for edification, it is as though they voluntarily climb up into a spiritually dark attic and lock the door. The results will be disastrous for their relationship with the Lord. Fortunately, unlike Blanche, but like the Prodigal Son, if we find ourselves in such a place, we can open the door and walk out.