The Darkness Won’t Survive

The Darkness Won’t Survive

My son broke a light bulb the other day. He wanted to test its strength. So he smacked it on the arm of the couch like a man christening a ship. In his defense, he’s four. It took half an hour to clean up the fragments. Bulbs break, but there is an eternal light. There is a flame that can’t be snuffed out. There is a power that can’t be cut off, even if the energy bill is delinquent.

In the beginning God spoke a simple phrase, “Let there be light.” A billion electrons rolled off his tongue in a cloud of heat and the darkness disintegrated. Sadly the human race ran from the light of God and the world came under a shroud. Not just humanity but all of creation.

Thankfully the light of God is determined and defiant in the face of darkness. Nothing can block this light. The sun is rising again on this earth. As John said “the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shinning.” (1 John 2:8)

The man who wrote those words knew about deep darkness. Most of his friends were systematically executed by a regime that rejected the light. So why did he maintain hope? Because the light wasn’t a naïve sentiment. He was a witness to it. He wrote about the things he had “looked at and touched with [his] hands.” (1 John 1:1) He was friends with Jesus who was and is the torch-bearer. 

We may feel like the fog is heavy and suffocating. We may hear damp whispers telling us to reject hope. But those voices will be silenced and one day the fog will burn up. We will arrive at the top of a hill that overlooks the place we’ve been searching for all along. The darkness won’t survive there because the light will be too strong.

The best part is, we don’t have to wait for that final day. We are called to be both recipients and bringers of this light here and now. Jesus is called the light of world. Interestingly, he gave us the same name.

Taller than a Tower

Taller than a Tower

Years ago my son JJ was standing next to the car when he noticed a communication tower close by. He cranked his head back to study it and then turned to my wife. “Mom,” he said, “that tower is taller than Dad, right?” He wasn’t making a statement. It was a question. He was trying to verify his assessment of Dad’s height in relation to the large structure. It was close enough he had to run it past Mom. From his vantage, I’m rather tall.

A few days later we were in the car. Without prompting JJ said, “Dad, I’m not afraid of anything.” And his statement was true. He is the kid who will jump from the top step with nothing but a rolled-up sweatshirt to break his fall.

It wasn’t until later I realized these two stories were connected. My son’s fearlessness relates directly to the fact that he believes his dad to be as tall as a 200-foot tower. If we are covered by someone who can protect us from harm, we tend to feel less afraid.

I’m not saying followers of Jesus are exempt from suffering. Jesus said that we would have to confront trials (John 16:33). Neither are we fully immune to fear. He said tomorrow will bring worries (Matthew 6:34). But consider the greatest trial any of us could face. I would argue that death is the one thing we fear more than any other. And we already know Jesus abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10). The sword of death was bent in half. So if our God has defeated the most formidable enemy we could ever face and his death-defying Spirit now lives in us (Romans 8:11), what do we actually have to fear?

The God with us is taller than a 200-foot tower. If he can help us overcome death, he can help us overcome anything.

 

Fighting a Flood

Fighting a Flood

I was once asked to help fix a commercial toilet. The head maintenance man was offsite and thus providing instructions over the phone. Those instructions were then relayed to me. I was told to turn a large hex bolt attached to the water supply (there were two of them which turned out to be important).

After the first turn, water began to drip from behind the bolt. When I inquired I was told this was normal. By the next turn, water was spraying out, like when you press your thumb over a garden hose. Still normal. On the final turn the bolt broke free releasing a fierce torrent of frigid water that struck me in the chest. In shock I stumbled aside and just watched as the steady stream of water spanned the full length of the bathroom and splattered off the mirror.

The water level quickly began to rise around my feet. The others with me took off as soon as it happened and I was left to fight the flood on my own. I splashed around until I found the bolt and attempted to force it back in place. The cold spray beat against my face and stung my eyes. I dropped it several times, once in the toilet. Eventually I managed to plug the hole. This happened just after another staff person cut off the main water supply on the other side of the building.

It is a massive understatement to say my efforts were futile. But in the moment it felt legitimate. When placed in a situation that is quickly spiraling, the natural reaction is to try and regain control. If that is your default, give yourself some grace.

But what if we stopped trying to hold onto control. I’m not saying do nothing. Don’t stand there and let the water bore a hole in your chest. But rather than self-reliance, what if we sought help. Acknowledge the beast is bigger than us and go to find someone who knows how to beat it.

Within Christian thought there is a word for this. It is called prayer.

Self-preservation

Self-preservation

Self-preservation is not all bad. If you were being chased by a Velociraptor it would be helpful. Or when you’re on a plane and they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before trying to assist others. Seems logical.

But there is another type of self-preservation. It is an inner voice that says “The ship is sinking and it is every man for himself.” It’s like the scene at the end of Titanic where the villain dresses like an old woman so he can secure one of the last seats on a lifeboat. It is utterly dishonorable and yet there is a small part of me that relates.

But the truth is, I don’t want to be that kind of man. I want to be one of guys still playing his violin as the vessel is going down. Or even better, I want to be the one who would charge the lower deck and sludge through neck-deep water to find any left behind.

The actions of the musician and the hero would be crazy if this world was all there is. But it’s not. There is life beyond this life. Self-preservation is a lie. Jesus said those of us who try to save our lives will lose them anyway. But if we are willing defy self-preservation, we will find a true life that can never be taken away. And this discovery can give birth to joy and courage and peace far beyond anything the world has seen.

Down the Mountain

Down the Mountain

People who are looking for God often climb mountains. This is why so many temples are built on high places. But the mountains we climb are not just made of rock. It is not so much that we expect to find God sitting cross-legged at the summit. We just assume that in the spiritual realm, God is high and unreachable.

It is true that God is elevated and worthy of worship. But David Platt once made a simple yet beautiful observation. Jesus revealed something amazing about the character of God. He didn’t stay on the mountain waiting for us to climb to where he was. Instead, he came down to find us.

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