The choral professor sat on the stool in the music store, one afternoon decades ago, choosing his words with care.
“I teach on a campus filled with light. Where is the darkness into which I’m to shine?”
I didn’t know the answer. I did know one thing:
I didn’t like where the conversation was headed.
I like the light. It’s where I’m most comfortable. I can rest easy; cares and worries don’t touch me there.
Dark is dismal. It’s frightening. There are unknown creatures in the dark—terrors I can feel, but cannot see.
And yet, the dark is where we’re called to minister.
The music professor didn’t stop with asking the question. I was sure he wouldn’t.
He packed up his family and found a dark place in which to shine his light many miles away from the comfort and clarity of his former life. Instead of the city of light at which he had served, he was forced to shine his lonely light on the pathway in a place where almost no one carried any light at all.
It has been many years since the conversation. The professor has long since passed over into that place where light is ever shining.
Can you imagine how brightly his light shined in that dark place? Think how dramatic the distinction must have been! A match lit in pitch-black darkness can seem almost blinding.
His words still haunt my thoughts.
No great quest is ever played out in the light of day. Darkness—that’s where fierce battles are waged.
The blackest holes imaginable are the delivery rooms for the most brilliant of all victories.
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And yet, we don’t begin our journey from those black pits. No. From homes blazing in light and meeting places shining with the brilliance of the sun at its apex, we must set out.
With conscious forethought we turn our backs on the light places and stride into the darkness, carrying only the light we’ve been given.
It’s a frightening journey—no part more terrifying than the first step we take.
And yet, the path through the darkness is of utmost importance.
Our destination has never been on this side of the darkness, but always on the other. We are bound for a better place, but there is ground to be covered before we arrive there.
The inhabitants of this dark world will never know the meaning of God’s light if not for us in their presence. Those who stumble through the darkness will never see light if we never walk beside them.
We are the lamps set on the lamp stand, not under the basket. (Matthew 5:15)
We are the stars that shine in the universe. (Philippians 2:15)
We know that darkness and evil are the hallmarks of existence in a fallen world. Yet somehow, our spirits quell at the prospect of leaving these places of light our Creator has privileged us to experience.
In a sense, you might say light is dangerous. We humans are gluttons, never satisfied with what we need, but demanding what we want.
We would stay in the light, soaking it all up ourselves for a lifetime, if we could. Indeed, some of us never set foot outside our fortresses of illumination.
The day will come—it will—when all is light. Until that day, we shine as His lights in the blackness of an ever-darkening world.
If we don’t, who will?
Backs to the light, we carry the light into a world that cries out without any clue of what it needs. In desperation—and darkness—they seek first one way, then another, for that which we hold in our hands.
It’s not our light. There is enough of it to illuminate the pathway ahead, but it shines to draw those around us.
To Him. The light draws them to Him.
A borrowed light. And yet, it shines through us.
We, who have been brought into the light of day, are sent back into the darkest, deepest night.
Dare the quest!
Take the leap!
By far, more is lost in basking comfortably in the sanctuary of light and warmth than by venturing forth into the dark unknown.
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The world around us is getting darker. We can see it happening.
The light will be the brighter for it.
It’s time to turn our backs to the light.
It’s time for us to journey toward the light.
And, yet for all the leaving from and journeying toward, we walk in the light.