1 John 1: 4-6 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
In the dark
Have you ever been in complete darkness? I’m not speaking metaphorically, I mean real darkness with no light whatsoever? Just after we were married, my husband and I went to visit his parents in Arkansas. While we were there we went canoeing, shopping and other great adventures (ah – the life before kids). One of the days there, we went to tour some caves. We were the only two on the tour. I love touring caves, and this one was wonderful. We went into the second cave with our guide, and what happened next is an experience I will likely never forget.
The guide asked us if we had ever been in total darkness. I said, “I’ve been in the dark.” He said, “No, I mean total darkness.” My husband and I looked at each other and said, “I don’t know.” The tour guide then turned off the lights in the cave. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see even a fragment of myself (not even my hands or nose), much less my husband, the guide or the cave. Within a moment (a very short moment) I felt afraid. I spoke, hoping that would calm my nerves. I reached out to grab my husband’s hand, but in this darkness, it was like he didn’t exist. I was at the mercy of the guide. The man with his hand on the light switch had all the power. I had never realized how having even a little light can change a situation. I never want to be in complete darkness again.
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
I guess experiencing God’s light would be almost the opposite of my experience that day. With God, the Light, you can see the one who leads you. You can get your footing. You can reach out to others and take their hands. In the cave I was afraid to move, afraid the cave and everything around had disappeared, but in God’s light we can see what is real, what is true.
Walking in the dark
In the cave it was so dark I wouldn’t have even moved. I was paralyzed by the darkness. That is the extreme. For most of us we live in a world where darkness happens a little more subtly. Each night I wake up and have to go to the bathroom in the dark. I know the way by heart, and it’s usually not a problem. But sometimes it is a problem. Sometimes I put my computer along the wall of our room after working in bed or watching a movie. If I don’t get the battery box out-of-the-way, it can make for a very painful walk to the bathroom. Sometimes, no matter how often I’ve walked to the bathroom before, I still manage to catch my toe on the end of our bed as I pass by it. OUCH!
Walking in the dark is dangerous
When we walk in the dark in our spiritual life by lying, cheating, stealing, slander, lust (need I go on?), we often think the things we’re doing aren’t that big a deal. They start small, like taking a dollar from our moms purse without asking or like my sister and I would do, taking quarters off my fathers dresser without asking. Even if we did ask, I know there were a few times I took more than I had been told to take. We say a lot of things to ourselves to make our walk in the dark not seem so bad. We say things like, “He can afford a couple more quarters”. Or, “The guy with the BMW doesn’t need me to pay for the ding I put in his door. He’s rich, right?” But small walks in the dark can lead us into deeper darkness. “I’m just getting coffee with her, totally innocent right? Oh wait, now she wants to find someplace quiet to talk.” It’s a slippery slope.
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
These are hard words to hear this side of heaven. As sinful people, we’ll never fully be walking in the light until Jesus comes again or we go to heaven. But that earthly living doesn’t give us the freedom to sin and walk in darkness, but the freedom to draw closer to the light and further from the darkness. When I was growing up and started to date a bit, there came a time when my mom had to tell me that boys weren’t allowed in my room. I said (of course), “Don’t you trust me?”. To which she wisely responded, “I trust you, I trust him, but I don’t trust the situation.” And that is how it is for so many of our sins, and so much of our time in darkness. We don’t work hard enough at keeping ourselves out of darkness. We don’t work hard enough at keeping ourselves in the light either.
His light doesn’t depend on us.
While we can lead ourselves out of the light into the darkness, the light is always there. God has saved us from our sins that we might spend eternity with Him in heaven. It is this blessing that calls us to walk in the light, to turn from our past lives of sin, not just because they’re bad for us, but because those sins and the darkness is what separates us from the one who loves us more than anyone else. Just like me reaching out for my husband in the dark cave, the Lord reaches out to us in our dark places, takes our hand and leads us back to the light. Unfortunately, sometimes, those of us who are stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do pull our hands out of His and remain in darkness. We pull away, leaving ourselves stranded.
Walk in the light
Hold fast to the one who has brought you out of darkness, so that you may not be overwhelmed by the darkness. Jesus is the Light. He is the way to everlasting life, and can lead you out of that darkness. Even letting in a little light can change your whole world. Once you have a little light, you won’t want to live without it. So go towards the light!