Light

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Last evening there was a power outage in my neighbourhood. It was 10:30 before crews were able to restore the electrical current. That meant an evening in the dark. What does one do in the dark? It was too early to go to bed and the days are not long enough to be able work for a while by the light of the sun. So…

I improvised by reading by flashlight. It worked but my hands protested at have to hold the light so that I could read. The amount of light probably didn’t do my eyes any favours either. But, as the saying goes, “a man’s (and a woman’s) gotta do what he’s (she’s) gotta do.”

My Scripture reading for this morning was from John 8:12-30. The section begins with, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” I remember this verse, not only because I learned it as a child in Sunday School, and have heard it repeated a good many times since, but because our pastor preached on it just a couple of Sundays ago.

I got somewhat frustrated last night as the agony of lightlessness marched on. It’s hard to be productive in the dark. But even without the issue of productivity coming into play, it’s hard to be entertained in the dark. Nothing works well, if at all, in the dark. Mind you, I did do some praying—that you can do in the dark—so I can’t say it was altogether a bad thing for the lights to go out.

But generally, light is a good thing, a necessary thing, a vital thing.

Some of the crowd that heard Jesus’ words would have understood His statement far better than we might today. For those trained in the Scriptures, for Jesus to say that He was the light of the world was to equate Himself with God. He was God, but that was not something that most of His listeners were ready to accept. There were many Old Testament scriptures, familiar to the religious leaders certainly, that spoke of God as the light. Psalm 21:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” Habakkuk 3:3, 4 says: “God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power is hidden.

Judgment was connected with the coming of the light. Malachi predicted the coming of the light of God when he wrote: “‘Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…’” (4:1, 2). To this idea Zechariah referred after the birth of his son, John, who would be the forerunner to announce the coming of Jesus: “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercies of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:76-79).

Many of the audience would have recalled Isaiah’s words when they heard Jesus’ claims: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (60:1-3).

This statement made the Pharisees angry. They disputed His claim, but He did not back down. In fact, Jesus boldly told them that if they did not believe Him they would die in their sins (8:23, 24).

When I lived in Venezuela we used to have frequent power outages—I was often grateful for a gas stove! We got used to it. But God’s light is not an “on-again-off-again” thing (pun intended); it’s a constant. No flickering, no brownouts, no blackouts. There is no way to sabotage it, dim it, snuff it out. The batteries never fail (as did the first flashlight I read by last night) and the bulbs never need changing. When He says that those who walk in His light “will never walk in darkness,” He wasn’t exaggerating and He told no lie.

You know, that feels really good. To know that though every human system will fail at some point, but to have the assurance that His divine “hydro” is absolutely guaranteed, is reassuring. I can always know where I’m going when I follow Him. I can always know what to do when I watch what He does. He is light, and He lights today’s path as He leads me toward tomorrow’s destiny.

His light is always on.

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