Darkness has lost its meaning to us. Since the discovery of electricity and invention of the light bulb the world has been on a campaign to banish darkness. Just look around you some night: guard lights flood every house, street lights bathe our roads, office buildings shine through the night, spot lights sweep through the air, the rooms in our houses have lights on even if we are not in them, and our retinas burn as we stare for hours into the glare of our televisions. If you don’t believe it, you will the first time the electricity fails and the night as you know it stops…dark, dark, dark and silent…very silent.
Years ago during an ultimately doomed stint in the Boy Scouts of America my friends and I set our sights on earning the hiking merit badge. The reasons are fuzzy today but we believed we had to complete a short five mile hike after sundown in a wilderness area. Sounded fun during the day, then the sun went down. At some time during our attempt the flashlight we brought (but forgot to put fresh batteries in) began its quick descent to death. There we were miles from any other light source; the overcast skies blocked the small bits of natural light that would have helped – it was DARK! Those dark moments are etched in my memory for life because in our minds every rustle in the brush became a mountain lion, every owl hoot a ghost, and every crunch an axe murderer poised to attack. We stumbled over unseen obstacles and worked ourselves into a panic over the unknown.
I suspect people in the first century understood darkness much better than we do…and feared it. When the sun went down there were no buzzing guard lights to brighten the night. Of course Jesus, a master of word pictures and parables, understood this and used their fear to perfectly describe the importance of his being:
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “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 (NIV)
Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees 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)
I would have given anything for a light in my moments of darkness induced panic. So it is with my spirit; only through Christ will my darkness be brought into the light so that I will not stumble.
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” John 12:35-36
Fear darkness, put your trust in the Light. Put your trust in Christ.