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Light and Darkness at Christmas

December 24, 2014

Have you ever experienced total darkness? Ever been down a mine or in a cave, perhaps? I’ve been down a number of caves and as part of the tour several times now the guide has switched off all the lights. Then there is complete darkness, no light at all. It is the strangest feeling. I’ve put my hand in front of me, I even touched my nose but I couldn’t see a thing! Then the lights went go again and the world returns to normal.

That experience of being in a dark cave gave me an appreciation of what real darkness is like. It also gave me a sense of how wonderful light and sight are – how important they are to everything that I do. In that pitch darkness I couldn’t even walk about safely.

I recently met someone who was forced to work in a coal mine by the Japanese during WWII. He hated it but what made it all that much worse were the poor lamps they were given. They had batteries that often failed. When that happened all he could do was sit in the absolute dark that he hated and wait until someone with a working lamp came by to guide him. If he hadn’t waited he could have wondered off, got lost and never come out again. Chosen darkness was bad enough but that forced darkness must have been truly terrifying!

Total dark is frightening, and I think it’s this sort of dark that John was talking about in John 1.5 when he wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

A totally dark world with light shining in it may sound a bit fanciful but all you have to do is hear the news of wars and horrors in so many places. There are wars and horrors now just as there were 2000 years ago. That is the darkness that God’s Son came to shine through. He came so that this world could have some hope for a better future. A future without crying and pain and mourning.

But this world now has this light. Jesus has come. But this world still isn’t as it should be. There are still wars and sickness – still so much darkness around. That leads some to think that all this talk of God and light and hope is all just wishful thinking. Maybe it is, but I don’t think so. I am sure that God’s light is shining but not so brightly that it blinds us to everything else – I’m still free to choose – light or dark? That thought took me back to my first bad motor bike accident:

I was on my first motorbike. It was only little but it would get up to about 70mph. It’s biggest failing though were its 6 volt electrics and very weak headlight. I was coming home from a friends one winter, late at night. This was in North Yorkshire, at the foot of the moors and blowing a blizzard. I was being sensible for once and going slowly when this big Merc came up behind me. Suddenly, with those powerful lights behind it seemed as though I could see for miles. So I speeded up. I was whizzing along. Then it all went wrong. First the Merc overtook me. Then I could barely see past the front wheel again. I was going far to fast and couldn’t even see where the edge of the road was. Suddenly I wasn’t on the bike any more I was flying through the air. I finally landed in a garage forecourt miles from anywhere with the bike on top of me. I’ve still got gravel in my knee from that crash and all because I didn’t have enough light.

You can have light and it still isn’t enough. We have Jesus’ light now but it isn’t bright enough to blind people to all evil. It is bright enough to change lives – it changed mine. But I had to accept Jesus and let him work in me. I’m riding through this life with Jesus’ light to show me the way. That light isn’t so bright that I can’t still make mistakes but with care it is bright enough to guide me safely through life. It is bright enough to show me how to care more, to love more and to forgive more. It isn’t that bright but it is all I need for now. It is bright enough for me to recommend anyone to get to know Jesus better.

As for the darkness still in this world, I know that there is a brighter light to come when Jesus comes back. A light that will drive out all darkness and evil for ever. I’m looking forward to that time, I really am.

Until that time comes though, I’m content with the light that I have, and more than happy with the hope and love and guidance that come with it. I’m happy and I’m going to really celebrate the birth of my happiness this Christmas. The 12 days of Christmas are just beginning and I intend to enjoy them… really enjoy them as a ‘thank you’ to God for sending Jesus here to this messed up world.

Thanks for joining the party.

God bless, and Happy Christmas.

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