The other day a fierce windstorm left many of us without power. Thankfully, useless light switches and inoperable refrigerators were the only damage we had to endure. For some homeowners, the outage lasted only minutes. Our electricity was off for seven hours.
|It's amazing what a little light can do|
to help dispel the darkness.
After the weather front passed, I’d occasionally look out to houses nearby to confirm no one else had their “juice” restored. Without lights, TV, even use of the microwave, it provided a bit of comfort knowing we weren’t alone in our brief misery. It’s not fun being the only one in the dark.
We experienced this in an unforgettable way nearly 25 years ago. It was after the “blizzard of ’93,” an unusual winter storm in March that dumped upwards of two feet of snow throughout our region overnight. Howling winds and blinding snow downed utility poles and snapped power lines, leaving many people without electricity for days.
In our case, it was about 56 hours. Frigid temperatures penetrated our home. There was no cooking or taking showers (we had an electric water heater), and no TV for monitoring efforts to restore power.
Everyone in next subdivision, however, had lights, heat, running appliances, and showers as hot as desired. “No fair!” I thought. How could they, within walking distance, have lights and warmth when we didn’t?
Situations like these are among life’s little “tragedies” that seemingly take forever to resolve. Then, in a blink of an eye, they’re resolved and we can advance with our lives. Sadly, other circumstances are not temporary and not so easy to make light of – in the most literal sense. It’s the darkness that enshrouds the hearts and souls of men, women and children in our so-called “enlightened” age.
Many people seem desperately searching, but either uncertain about what they seek or unable to see what’s readily available. We see the symptoms: Anger, unrest, pain, bitterness, despair. These are byproducts of underlying issues – a lack of peace, hope, kindness, respect, love, or meaning. Without these, they grope in darkness far more profound than a temporary electrical outage.
Jesus often applied the term “light” to Himself. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). In the Old Testament, a prophet wrote of the coming Messiah, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
Sadly, even though Jesus freely offers His light to dispel the darkness outside and within, people refuse it. The Bible tells us they’ve grown comfortable in the darkness.
John 3:16 is familiar to most of us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But a few verses later, Jesus talked about those who have consciously rejected this most precious of gifts:
“This is the verdict. Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…” (John 3:19-21).
As I reflect upon our latest episode of briefly living in the dark, I wonder why anyone would choose darkness over the light. After being in the dark for some time, suddenly encountering light takes getting used to, but soon it becomes easy to embrace the light and shun the darkness.
Jesus commanded His followers to shine His light into the darkness, helping others to discover their own need – and desire – to live in the light. “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). The question is, when people see us – Christ’s disciples – do they see His light, empowered by His Spirit? Or do they see a weak, flickering beam, barely providing illumination at all because we’re trying to generate it in our own strength?