Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #8: Light

Sometimes Duane and I drink "Sleepytime Tea" right before we go to bed.  I don't know if it actually makes us sleepy, and I'm not sure I really like the way it tastes, but the hot brew makes me feel all warm and cozy.  A few weeks ago I made two cups and started to walk from the kitchen upstairs to our room when Duane turned out the lights.  The living room downstairs went completely dark and I literally couldn't see where I was going.  Although I do prefer to see where I'm going, it's not that big of a deal. I can find the stairs, and I can walk up stairs without light.  And so I kept going.  This was not a great idea.

We had been puppy-sitting Cheddar and Duane had put the baby gate up to block the stairs.  It's hard to explain  what happened, but suffice it to say that I stepped on the baby gate, it started sliding, taking me with it, sliding down about three stairs.  I couldn't stop myself because both hands had mugs of hot steaming tea which I didn't want to spill on the carpet.  I also did not want to burn myself or break the mugs, which are my favorites.  And so I held them high, as level as possible, as my body began sliding down the stairs, on top of the baby gate.

It may have looked funny, but fortunately no one could see.  The lights were out.  I did scream, and Duane came running.  It was too late.  Despite my best efforts, the carpet and my pajamas were wet.   And I overextended natural range of motion in my right shoulder.  Several weeks later, it still hurts a little bit.

Duane turned on the lights and moved the baby gate.  We walked upstairs and drank the rest of the tea.

And I really do have a point.  Without light, we're all walking in the dark.  We can't see where we're going.  As long as things are familiar, this may not bother us.  Remember, I would have made it upstairs just fine if the baby gate had been put away.  But honestly, sometimes people leave things on the stairs so I could have tripped on something else.  I knew I would be fine--unless I ran into something I did not anticipate.  Which I did.  I'm lucky nothing worse happened.

We need the light.

Metaphorically--and prophetically--Isaiah speaks of Jesus when he says
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.  
John tells us in chapter 1 that Jesus' life brings light to everyone.  He says, "The light shines in darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it."

Light clarifies.  Light lets us see where we're going.  Light gives us new perspective on the way we experience life.  Who doesn't want light?

Remember, I didn't think I needed it.  I thought I could get from here to there without vision.
Remember, I was glad no one could see me.  I looked ridiculous.

Jesus says,
Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.  It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.  (John 11:9-10)
Literally and metaphorically, we need the light.  We need the light so we don't fall down, literally or metaphorically.  We never know what surprises lie in store.  Physically, light helps us to avoid obstacles.  Metaphorically, the light (Jesus) gives us new perspective on obstacles that get in our way.  Sometimes we hear the Holy Spirit telling us not to speak or to take a different course of action.

Sometimes we don't even realize that we've lost the light.  Think about when the sun starts going down.  We may not notice the encroaching darkness.  Until someone turns on the light.  Suddenly we can see more clearly.  Or we start out including Jesus in our plans, praying, talking to him, reading his word, and then we get busy and don't even realize that our hearts have drifted away from the light and into encroaching darkness.

Who doesn't want light?

Speaking of himself, Jesus says,
God's light came into the world, but the people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.  (3:19-21)
And so some people want to hide not just embarrassing accidents, like my fall up the stairs, holding two mugs as steadily as possible, but also questionable deeds.  Things they don't want others to know about.

In John 8, Jesus declares,
I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.  
I want to follow Jesus.  I want him to lead me out of darkness.  I don't want to fall down.  I don't want to trip on the obstacles that get in the way of living a full joyous life.

It's just that sometimes I feel like darkness surrounds me, and that darkness overwhelms me.  I can't see where to go next.  I can't see the future.

Where is Jesus?  Where is the light he promises?
My faith falters in the darkness.  I begin to doubt everything I know, about God, about Jesus, about what he says.

At that point, I have to continue to trust in the light.  This is the faith part.  And I know it seems backward.  I know it doesn't seem fair.  I just don't know what else to say.

Trust in the light.  Know that when the light dawns, and you can see what's happening, you'll see that the light has been with you all alone.

Jesus says, "Trust in the light while there's still time.  Trust in the light and you'll become children of the light."  (12:36)

I want to be a child of God.  I want to be a child of the light.  

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