ISSUES OF FAITH: Finding light in a dark world

IT IS OVERWHELMING how dark it becomes on the Olympic Peninsula after the sun sets.

You can experience this every time you walk down the sidewalk, ducking in and out of the rays of the street lamps or peer past the beams of your front porch into darkness that envelops your neighborhood.

However the darkness that lays thick over our area this time of the year is best felt while driving down the highway.

Sure, there are a few spots where the darkness is broken by a light, but for the most part your headlights are the only thing separating you from being wrapped up by the blackness of the night.

It is profound what the darkness does to us.

For my kids, who all year have no trouble feeding our animals at 6 p.m., this time of the year they are terrified by what might be lurking just beyond their sight.

They take flashlights, hold hands and run as fast as possible to do the work.

What’s worse is that you and I can’t laugh too loud because we are not much different.

We constantly give great power over our lives to the things we cannot see, to the things that might be and to our haunting fears and the darkness that veils the snares lying in wait for us.

In this life of darkness and uncertainty, we need a light. It is truly remarkable the comfort that comes from living in the light, not fearing the darkness nor its power over you.

This time of year we focus on who it was that truly displayed power — first through the meekness of a child in a manger. He did not come with the coercing force of intimidation, fear or death, but the power of love, joy and life; life that is the light for all people (John 1:4).

We must remember the king who was conceived, born and lived as the true light of the world: Jesus Christ himself (John 8:12).

The one who came to shine the light of his truth on all who dwelled in deep darkness and the shadow of death (Matthew 4:6, Luke 1:67-80).

Over and over we give power in our lives to the darkness — to the things we cannot see, a future of possible hardships, illness or broken relationships. We allow this fear to control us, yet it is him who is the light that broke into the darkness, shattering permanence of any pain this life brings (John 1:5, Romans 8:37-39).

Therefore, remain in the light.

Our imaginations run rampant, fueled by our fears, but he who is the light of the world (John 8:12, 12:46, 1 Peter 2:9) pulls us from that dark road, soothing the terror of our mind (Matthew 11:28).

His light illuminates the days, weeks and years in front of us so that you may be wise to the snares that otherwise would have entangled us (Ephesians 5:8-9, 1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Living as children of the light, we are guided by the light and boldly confess the source of our help.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Jesus Christ is that word that is the lamp to our feet. He is the word that is the light to our path.

Just as we need our headlights on these dark nights to illuminate our way home, we need his light which breaks into even the deepest recesses of our souls and exposes all of the darkness that abides there.

He illuminates your passions, resentments, guilt and shame; then with his outstretched arm points to his cross he was born to bear, where he ransomed you. He has destroyed the condemnation we earn with our flesh (Romans 8:1).

Through him working in you the same love he showed when we were once his enemy (Romans 5:10) by saving, by his blood, he warms our heart toward forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes, his light illuminates all that is done in secret, bringing us shame.

However, that same light shows you and me that there is no sin too great, too hidden and too dark that he, as the light of the world, who was born that silent dark night so long ago, has not forgiven as we turn to him.

It is so dark this time of year, therefore every time you flip a light switch, reach for that flashlight or turn on the headlights on your car, remember the true light we all need and have been given in Christ.

It is so freeing to know that the darkness of this world is not what controls us, but the light that no darkness could overcome, Jesus Christ, emboldens us, as he uses us now as his children, as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Shine bright in this dark world as stars shining bright in the night sky (Daniel 12:3).

So this Christmas, this New Year, rise and shine with the confidence that you have been made a child of God through the word made flesh, the word that was the light of the world, the light that illuminates our paths.

To God be the glory.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev.Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or pastorlovejoy @rocketmail.com.

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