Light Dispels Darkness

 In Preaching & Teaching

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

One morning I was sitting in my favorite chair where I often sit and gaze out a wall of north-facing windows in the family room on the backside of our house. We have a high ceiling and so from my chair I enjoy watching the clouds drift across the expanse of sky.

On this particular morning as I was spending some quiet time reading my Bible, I happened to glance downward toward the floor where something quickly caught my attention. It was a ray of light that created a nice patch of light about the size for a cat to lie and bask in the sunlight. What struck me as odd in that moment was that the sun was not positioned to shine into that space. The sun was still low in the sky off to the east, and there was a sofa and other furniture that blocked direct light that might shine from the northernly windows into that darkened space. Then I looked up and saw that the early morning sun was just high enough to slant in through the eastern edge of the windows and shine onto a large mirror hanging off to my left on the far west wall. The mirror captured the light and reflected it at an angle back into the room, and that particular ray of light shone into a dark space, illuminating it as brightly as if the overhead light might had it been turned on.

Now I am not a physicist, and I cannot explain in technical terms the scientific phenomenon of the electromagnetic spectrum, but I am thankful to have eyes that see light. An elementary-aged child could have easily observed and explained in simple terms what I had observed. The light shined onto the mirror, and the mirror reflected it back into the room. I began to pay attention to rays of light reflecting off that mirror, and a few days later I noticed that same mirror reflecting a ray of light into a dark corner of the hallway that leads toward my garage. The mirror had not moved, but the sun was shining from a different angle, struck the mirror at a different point, and so the light was shining into a different area of darkness. Then one morning as we sat in church, my husband commented about a reflection of the stained glass wall behind us shining onto a small area of the brick wall—except the light wasn’t shining on the brick wall, it was shining upon the plexiglass that is used to buffer the sounds of the drums, and that plexiglass was reflecting the beautifully colored pattern of light. It was simple, yet fascinating; complex, yet easily understood . . . like so many teachings of Jesus.

I thought about how in all these observances that none of what I was observing was from looking directly at the original source of light. Rather, I was seeing light originating from the source (the sun) shining on or through another object that reflected the light. In John 1 we are introduced to Jesus as we are told that “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Then in John 8:12 Jesus affirms, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What a great promise that whoever follows Jesus (notice that is active tense), Jesus promises will have the light of life. The light of life—Jesus—will shine through us! In Matthew 5:14 Jesus spoke to his followers, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As followers of Jesus, we are not the original source of life and light, but the original source illuminates the life, the goodness, the truth, and the faithfulness of God in our lives for all to see.

You may feel like you where you live or work or go to school is a dark place. It may appear to be a place where there seems to be no light of truth. The people around you may have positioned themselves in the darkness to try to avoid the light of the gospel. But Jesus knows where they are, and he knows where you–his followers–are! I try to remember in challenging times, places, and situations that God has appointed the time and place of our births. As his followers, his Spirit is projecting his light into the dark places through you—places otherwise seemingly hidden from view of the Son. Perhaps you are in a difficult place right now just because that is where God needs to you be to reflect his light.

Yet, no one around us can hide from the presence of God. Psalm 139 says there is nowhere we can go that God is not there. If you have loved ones in dark places, do not give up hope. Instead, trust that they are not hidden from God. No place is hidden from God . . .
. . . no jail cell
. . . no hospital room
. . . no boardroom
. . . no courtroom
. . . no park bench
. . . no factory floor
. . . no mansion
. . . no college dorm
. . . no military battlefield

There is nowhere his eye does not see, and his light cannot shine; no heart he cannot soften; no mind he cannot change.

But he lets us choose.

He lets us choose
. . . to turn toward him
. . . to answer his call
. . . to be his instrument of love and peace
. . . to reflect his light.

We all need him, and there is no one he cannot use.

You may feel as immobilized as a mirror hanging on a wall, but you can still choose to avail yourself to reflect his life, light, and love.

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