Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. – John 12:44-46 NIV
Think about those places where you can surround yourself in total darkness. I know people who tell stories of the backwoods on a cloudy night where there is no moon shining. The absence of city lights combined with the density of the forest will literally choke out any possibility of light reaching the ground. But these places are few and far between. For starters, development has become so widespread that there are few uninhabited places left anymore. Plus the conditions have to be right to make this happen, so while it is not impossible, it is truly rare to find a place in nature that is totally void of light. (Now before the commentators chime in – I understand that traveling deep into caves and going on a deep sea exploration will also provide darkness – I guess I’d like to keep this in the realm of places you can access more readily).
For most of us, those places where we can experience total darkness are going to be manmade. And in that realm, it’s not really difficult to create such a place. Basements, cellars, closets; any room without windows and a door which seals tightly will produce total darkness. This is an important distinction – man creates total darkness in a creation where God goes out of His way to provide us with illumination.
Don’t see it? (no pun intended). Consider the way we were created. Our eyes were designed with pupils that open wider to allow us to see in places where there is extremely low light. You know this to be true when you turn out the lights in your bedroom at night. Initially, you can’t see when the lights go out, but in a matter of seconds your eyes adjust to the new light settings and provide you with as much vision as is possible. Plus light will extend as far as it can to bring illumination in darkness. Draw the curtains and light will still sneak around them. Shut the door and the light pours underneath. In fact, a person must work diligently to achieve total separation from light by immersion into darkness (Remember the caves and ocean floor? The cellar and the closet?)
Do you have dark places in your life? If you do, you have probably spent time trying to find effective ways to illuminate them. In the physical realm, a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot will do the trick. However, a trip to the hardware store can’t brighten those dark places that exist in our spiritual lives. What is your dark place spiritually? Is it the guilt and shame of a sin you feel can’t be forgiven or forgotten? Is it the impact on your self-esteem caused by abuse or neglect? Are you still stinging from an offense someone has committed against you, allowing your sorrow and anger to fester? Is it a feeling of unworthiness that you hold on to so that when the lights grow too bright you can crawl anonymously back into the shadows of your comfortable hiding place? You see, darkness doesn’t have to be connected to some horrible deed or tragic event – it can be something as simple as holding onto a lingering lie, maintaining your comfort zone, or simply giving up on your hope that anything will ever change.
Darkness comes in different packages but it always produces the same end result. When you are in darkness you are isolated. You lose confidence in yourself and in the knowledge of your surroundings. Darkness causes you to grow fearful, leaving you groping around for anything familiar. When you find something you think you recognize, something you think will help you, you commit to it without the full assurance of its benefits. Darkness greatly increases your risk of injury while greatly decreasing your chances of being helped by anyone else. That’s a pretty hefty list of issues. How could we possibly solve so many significant and dangerous problems? It’s simple – turn on the light!
In John 12:46, Jesus explains this clearly as He says, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” You only have to struggle with darkness if you refuse to turn on the light. Christ came to bring us light. In Him all of those issues and struggles we face that would otherwise try to shroud us in darkness are exposed. With illumination comes recognition of the problems, opportunities to solve them, and the vision to overcome and avoid them in the future. Christ is our light – may He shine brightly to chase away the darkness from every area of our lives.