Last year, while I was working at an inner-city ministry, I sent occasional email updates to friends and family members who had requested them. In December, I wrote these words:
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” ~Genesis 1:3-5
As I read these verses, I wondered, “If God knew that the light was good, why did He only separate it from the darkness? Why not get rid of the darkness completely?”
After that, I started searching for other verses that talked about light and noticed several that used phrases like this: “the Lord turns my darkness into light,” “[He] brings utter darkness into the light,” and “in the face of the darkness light is near.” A verse from 2 Samuel 23, speaking about a just ruler, caught my attention in particular: “He is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.” The part I was struck by was how precious light seems after darkness.
When darkness threatens, light becomes all the more noticeable. What if God allowed the darkness to remain because it draws attention to the light? I don’t think that’s the most theologically correct answer, but it made me look at my work in a different way. Here, we constantly walk the line between light and darkness. Honestly, many of the families and kids we serve come from pretty dark situations and those situations don’t automatically become better when they walk through our doors. But because I see the darkness, the times when the light bursts through are all the more precious.
I still stand by those words. Every Christmas Eve, my family lights all of the candles in our house and listens to Christmas music. The candles are beautiful, not in spite of the darkness around them, but because of the darkness. Sometimes it takes a bit of darkness for me to notice the light.
There were times last year when the darkness seemed very dark. I lost my heart to a group of beautiful and brilliant kids, and when they were hurting, I hurt too. When I failed them, it hurt even worse. Looking for the moments of light was hard, and I often forgot to do it or forgot to celebrate those moments when they came.
During this time of year, the darkness can seem never-ending – and not just because the sun is setting earlier. Family tensions, the loss of a loved one, or financial worries may consume all thoughts and emotional reserves. It is times like this that make recognizing the light so important, though.
Last year, I too often forgot to look, so this year, I want to remember. I want to spend the next month remembering the light I saw last year and recording those moments, so that I won’t forget. And I want to ask God to show me the current moments of light as they come.
I’d like to invite everyone who reads this post to join me, because I think sharing about the moments of light you experience makes them even more powerful. (Plus a little accountability is often quite helpful – that’s why I told you I’m doing this. Ask me about it later, and make sure I’m keeping up.) I would be honored to hear about any moments of light God shows you this Christmas season.
Where did you see the light in the darkness today?