Dispelling the Darkness

Read and reflect on Isaiah 9:1–7.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. –Isaiah 9:2 KJV

One night the motion-detecting floodlight on our house came on and stayed on, instead of automatically shutting off after five minutes.

 “The light isn’t working right,” I told my husband, after flipping the switch several times. 

“There must be something out there, setting it off,” he told me. 

The light is programmed so it remains off until the imbedded sensor detects motion in front of it and automatically turns on the floodlight, illuminating the driveway and the surrounding yard. The light is also programmed so it doesn’t come on during the day, when there is plenty of natural light to see where you’re going.

Even though I couldn’t see what was triggering the light, there was something in the darkness beyond the beams of the light the sensor was picking up. So said my husband. But I’m one of those people who have to see it to believe it, so I wasn’t sure if I agreed. Since I couldn’t see anything, I figured the light was malfunctioning. We couldn’t have the thing turning on in the middle of the night every time a deer or some other critter tripped the sensor. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I used the manual override feature and turned it off for the night.

But the light does have its advantages. It saves on the electric bill and gives us light to see where we’re going when we come home after dark.

Living in this world, we’re surrounded by spiritual darkness and will stumble unless we have something to light our way and give us understanding. What can give us spiritual light? There is only one source, God Himself: “The LORD is my light” (Psalm 27:1). 

Through His Word He gives us understanding and guides us in the way we are to go: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). 

If that wasn’t enough, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to make things clearer for us: “I am the light of the world,” He said when He was here. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). 

Even when He left this world physically and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, He did not leave us in the dark. He gave us the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune God, to guide us into all truth, teach us what we need to know, comfort us, and be with us forever (John 14:16–17, 26; 16:5–15). 

Knowing we humans need something we can see and feel, He told us we Christians are to be His lights, shining in this dark world of sin and grief and rebellion: “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14–16). 

He who is spiritual light created physical light (Genesis 1:3–5), and at the end of time, when physical light is destroyed with the old creation, He Himself will be all the light that is needed: “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord illumined it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23). “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 22:5).

Yes, much spiritual darkness surrounds us. But God’s love is the motion detector that senses our stumbling and groping, reaching for something to show us the way. His light is the only light that will illumine our life’s path. When it blazes in the darkness, we can choose to turn it off, walk out of reach of its guiding beams, or stay in the light and follow the only way that will bring us salvation, joy, and eternal life in a place of light forever.

As I light the second Advent candle, Lord God, I am reminded that You are my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? No one. What shall I fear? Nothing. Thank You. Amen.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons© 2018 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

What’s in the Darkness?

Read and reflect on John 1:1–18.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. –John 1:5 RSV

When I was a child, I was afraid of the dark. That was because my brother and sister, both older than me, would scare me with ghost stories and hide in the dark, making mysterious noises. I had a vivid imagination even then, and their antics only increased my fear. When I went upstairs at night, I had to flip on every light switch along the way, and I couldn’t fall asleep unless the hall light at the bottom of the stairs was turned on, its beams reaching into my bedroom, dispelling the darkness and calming my fears.

When I grew up, however, I learned no spooks lurked in the darkness, waiting to harm me, and the darkness held no real threat. But still, inky blackness had the power to resurrect old fears buried deep in the recesses of my heart. 

I remember one time my husband, our three children, and I were camping, and all the lights were extinguished. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand two inches from my face. My heart beat faster, and my breath came in short gasps.

“Calm down,” I scolded myself. I thought about turning on the reading light and reading through the night until I fell asleep, but the light would disturb my husband. So I squeezed my eyes shut, pulled the covers over my head, and forced myself to breathe deeply and slowly—and think about something other than the blackness that still held terror for me. 

While adults may scoff at a child’s (or another adult’s) fear of the dark, I believe we need to respect it for its power for good and for evil. 

The Bible tells us there are three kinds of darkness: Physical darkness is the absence of light and can harbor both good (rest) and bad. Our fears, worries, and heartaches are felt more acutely at night, and loom larger than in the light of the day. Spiritual darkness, not knowing what is right and true, also represents everything evil, gloomy, or hopeless. Eternal darkness is hell, the absence of God.

As Christians, we are to avoid spiritual darkness, respect its power to destroy and send us into eternal darkness, but not fear it. Why?

“I am the light of the world,” Jesus tells us in John 8:12. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus, the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, the child born in Bethlehem, the God-man who never sinned and became the perfect sacrifice, paying the punishment for our sin by shedding His blood and dying on a cross so that the darkness will no longer have power over us. Jesus, whose name means “God will save,” who overcame the eternal darkness of death and rose from the grave, continues to shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not—and cannot ever—overpower Him. 

Like that hall light when I was a child, His beams of love and life continue to reach out to me, surrounding me, enfolding me, dispelling the darkness around me, and calming my fears. I know I need never be afraid of the dark anymore.

As I light the first Advent candle, dear God, remind me that in this season of long, dark nights, that I never need to fear the dark, as long as I walk in the Light. Amen.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved.