“FOLLOW THE LIGHT”
Our son, grandson and I went cross country skiing last night. What a beautiful setting! It was about 26 degrees, a light snow was falling, and the propane lights, placed periodically along “Shorty’s Loop,” were reflecting off the groomed path and the snow-laden trees on either side. Our grandson Luke was just learning to cross country ski but is definitely “hooked.” He didn’t want to quit and commented that of all the winter activities he is able to do when they come to Montana, this is his very favorite. He said he especially liked the “ker-plunk” sound when he fell!
The lights are placed in such a way that there is a short stretch where the track is pretty dark and you need to look toward the next light to make sure you are still going in the right direction, because there are other loops which take off from the lighted one. If you get “sidetracked” onto one of them, it would be very dark and you would definitely have difficulty staying on course.
I couldn’t help but think of how God has “lighted” our pathway. There often seem to be some “dark” stretches where we can’t really see the track we are following. We need to “keep our skis in the track” and look to the next light ahead. Initially when God created the heavens and the earth, there was darkness and “Then God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). God, who is light, was the source, for He didn’t place the sun, moon and stars as the light source until the 4th day of creation (Gen. 1:16-19). But sin and spiritual darkness entered creation as Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Eventually the darkness became so great that God judged the earth with a world-wide flood. God spared Noah and his family because Noah walked with God and after the flood subsided, God took the light which He had created and split it into parts, giving us the gift of His rainbow as a promise that He would never again destroy the world with water. But sin affected more than the physical world. The spiritual was also infected, and a flood could not wash it clean, nor could the sun give it life. Another Light was needed–the same Light that shone in the beginning before the sun, moon, and stars were put into their places–and that Light was Jesus, but it would be centuries before He would make His appearance as “The Light of the World” (Jn. 8:12).
Meanwhile, as we travel through history, which is really “His-story,” we see numerous times when God manifested His light to mankind. For example, God guided the Israelites in their wilderness wandering with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Ex. 13:21,22). He manifest His presence in the Tabernacle and Temple with His Shekinah glory (Ex. 40:34-38). Despite all the miraculous things that God did for Israel, they failed miserably in their duty of sharing the light and glory of God with the nations, and for many, many years “His-story” became very dark.
But then, the prophet Isaiah made a proclamation that brought hope to the world again: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them…For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”‘ (Isa. 9:2,6). The world, however, was left to ponder that promise of light for 400 silent years. It was one of those “dark stretches” between the appearances of God’s light.
There is no record of God’s communicating with man from the time of the prophecies of Malachi until the angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias to tell him that his wife would bear a son who would go as a forerunner of the promised Messiah (the light of which Isaiah had prophesied) (Lk. 1:13-17). Then the angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary with the startling news that she too would bear a son saying, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David…for The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:26-35). Then when Mary gave birth in the little town of Bethlehem, the humble shepherds saw the glory of the Lord and heard the angels’ proclamation of good news about the coming Light of the World (Lk. 2:8-14).
Then it was God’s special light that drew the magi to Bethlehem as well (Mt. 2:1,2,9-11). Way back in the book of Numbers, God had spoken through Balaam, prophesying that “A star shall come forth from Jacob” (Nu.24:17). God hung His brightest star right over the place where His Son, the Light of the World, had entered the world. The Light was back for all the world to see. The Gospels are punctuated with “light” as the writers relate the life and ministry of the Light of the World. And at one point, Jesus let three of His disciples get a little glimpse of the awesomeness of His light and glory (Mt. 17:1-6).
The religious leaders and the pagan world didn’t receive the Light and they set about to put out the Light (Jn. 12:35-37; Mt. 26:3,4). They plotted and were allowed to carry out Jesus’ crucifixion and the light went out–they thought (Lk. 23:44-46). Had darkness won? Hardly. This was all part of His-story, prophesied in Gen. 3:15 and lived out for us in Jn. 10:11,18, as the “Good Shepherd” who laid down His life for the sheep. Was that the end of His-story? Praise the Lord, “no!” After three days, He rose from the dead (Lk. 24:1-9). Then Acts1 tells us that the earthly work of Jesus was done and He ascended back to heaven. All of a sudden, a bit of twist appears in His-story (I Pet. 2:9). Not only has the light been revealed to us in the person of Christ, but we now have the privilege and responsibility of reflecting that light to others. Paul wrote: “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor. 4:6). And the Apostle John wrote this: “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I Jn. 1:5-7).
In Matt. 5:14-16 Jesus reminds us that we are now “the light of the world” and challenges us to let our light shine before our world in such a way that they will see our good deeds and we can point them to the true Light. Because, remember, it is, and always has been His-story!