Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Light - Part V

Darkness...and light. I can't stop thinking about it.

Darkness has a place in the natural world. Darkness has a place in our physical lives too. What about our spiritual lives?
In our largely urban,
high-tech, lit up world we sometimes lose the natural flow of things; nonetheless, there is often something calming about night. Things slow, light grows gradually more dim, we stop work, and grow more ready for rest, we settle in our homes, children yawn and eyes grow heavy. In warmer months I like to sit on my little deck and listen to the sounds of darkness. Muffled traffic, occasionally an owl or other nocturnal creature, quiet voices, crickets "singing," and frogs croaking.
I love to travel in the car at night when on a long trip, especially if I'm in a large open area like America's great plains region. The moon rises. Clouds drift across the sky. Voices and music or drama emerge from the static of the car radio, stations from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Kansas City, Kansas, New York City...have you listened to the radio at night in the open? Once on a long and and sad trip to Texas, my father and I (for the first time on such a trip it was just we two) passed the hours by trying to identify the radio station locations by the accents or local patter of late-night radio jocks. As we crossed the vast emptiness of Arizona's desert we listened in amazement to jazz from New Orleans. We began the trip with battered emotions and anxious hearts. No, the long night drive across the land did not cure us of our pain. But it did help to calm us and help us, for a while, step our of our narrow little world.
Genesis says God "separated" the light and the dark, calling one day and the other night. Thus, the darkness of night is good, as creation is good. Knowing this, I looked to see if I could find instruction for us, as God's beloved sons and daughters, to seek darkness. I wrote in an earlier post of the "treasures of darkness" that Isaiah speaks of, wondering what those might be. But overwhelmingly I see scriptural references to God as light. Even Isaiah does not tell us to seek darkness, only that God can bring treasures from things we might see as dark.
When I say we need darkness, I do not mean "Darkness" (which is one way I think of evil, Satan, wicked forces and that which is not of God, "in whom is no darkness at all" as the book of James puts it. Here is the way Eugene's Peterson's "The Message" rends that well-known passage.

James 1:16-18 So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
What beautiful imagery! The "Father of Light!" And God's good gifts are pictured as rivers of cascading light. If you have been to Yosemite National Park perhaps you have witnessed what they call the "fire fall" in the evening. Man-made, the fire fall is nonetheless a spectacular sight, a river of fire cascading down a steep cliff. It can be seen from long distances. I thought of that when reading those words. Cascading rivers of light.
Someone recently said to me that God, being the creator of all, must have created spiritual darkness and sin. No, darkness is not a thing in and of itself. It is simply the absence of light.
Sin is simply the absence of holiness and goodness.
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret"
Eph. 5:8-12.

Paul reminds us that we were once darkness - without Christ, the Lord. It is good for us to remember the darkness sometimes, not to revel in it, but simply to remember our lost and hopeless condition without Christ. Even the "good" darkness that is night would be difficult to endure were it not for the certainty of dawn.
If we realize the depth of the gifts God has given us, we can walk with hearts thankful toward God-- and it can help keep us humble too! I don't always feel like a child of light. Sometimes I'm distraught , discouraged, disillusioned, distracted (and occasionally just plain ol' dumb). But, thanks to Christ the Lord, I can walk as a child of light. You can too!
How to do that? Ah, that is the question! A few things I'm working on doing right now are these:
  • Take time to specifically recall the faithfulness of God in past darkness.
  • Thank God for the faithfulness shown in those times.
  • Be still and know that "He is God." If I don't choose stillness deliberately, the chaos (and darkness) of this world can be overwhelming.
  • Use the faith I have to see myself as a child of light, a beloved possesion of the "Father of Light" whether I feel all shiny or not!
  • Think on good things. Avoid negative thoughts and negative people when I can.
  • Remember that I can only remain in the light as I remain "in Christ" on a practical, day by day walk, chosing, living, and making room for God's light in my life.

My foolish selfish nature sometimes seeks to do this apart from God. It doesn't work for long.

I Want to Be in the Light
I keep trying to find a life
On my own apart from you
I am the king of excuses
I've got one for every selfish thing I do
What's going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicion
That I'm still a man in need of a savior
I wanna be in the light
As You are in the light...
If you click on the link you can listen to the song, "I Want to be in the Light." It's not Bach or Handel or even Fanny Crosby. But it expresses my feelings pretty well. I can only live in the light, only be a child of light, as I walk with Jesus.
It seems I have come back to the beginning of where I started with this little series I wrote for myself. "The people who walk in darkness will see a great Light...on them the Light will shine."
May the Light of Christmas, Jesus Christ, fill you with hope, peace, love and joy.
I wish you all blessings and good gifts from above!
I'm off to Minnesota!


Unknown said...

Beautiful thoughts! God bless and have a wonderful Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my site and posting. I didn't mean that you had expressed an opinion. I meant I couldn't agree with the authoritative stand by the "powers that be" way back then (that is those who believe they had the right to determine what a person could or could not do in private prayer time) or with the people (and I don't care what denomination it is) that still believe that have a right to do that. I'm sorry I was confusing. Your series on Light has been very en-"light"-ening. Thank you for sharing your heart. Happy Holidays to you and yours.


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Hey, sorry I spelled your name wrong. :-(

Thanks for clearing that up. I get it now. Ha!

zorra said...

((Singing Owl))
I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!

Jeni said...

Although the Light has been given to us 2000 years ago, so many of us still "walk in darkness."

But, I've noticed so many people blogging and on my favorite blog list, have posted their wish for Peace as being a top priority.

If only everyone who has that wise just tries each day to work towards that end, perhaps, just perhaps, we could manage to get so much closer to making it a reality.

The Light given to us, if accepted, gives us peace of mind. The teachings of the Light of the World gives us the means toward attaining peace across the globe.

Light just one little candle every day and we can get us that much closer to knowing full peace.