The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5
I had recently moved to southeastern Washington from Illinois and was excited about the prospect of backpacking. So after much thought and research, I decided to go to the north side of Mount St. Helens for my first backpacking trip in the Northwest. I arrived late in the afternoon with two of my adult children. We only hiked about two miles when darkness quickly descended upon us necessitating that we pitch our tents at a spot beside the trail. We were able to get a bite to eat and find our way into our sleeping bags before we were engulfed in darkness. And I mean total darkness. It was a cloudy night. There was no light from the moon or stars. In fact, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
Fortunately, we all had flashlights. But the battery in my light had nearly lost its charge. My light was very dim, and yet it provided all the light I needed to see that dark night. On the other hand, the battery in Kelsey’s light was fully charged. Her light was much brighter than mine making it much more effective at seeing every detail of the terrain around us. But when she inadvertently shined it directly into my eyes, I was totally blinded.
I learned a valuable lesson in life that night. The brightness of my light is not as important as how I use my light. Jesus is the Light of the world. When I accepted Jesus into my life many years ago, His Light began expelling the dark thoughts in my mind and the selfish desires deep in my soul. Little by little the darkness continues to leave my life. I wish I could say all the darkness was completely gone, but it’s not. The truth is, I still have plenty of selfish desires and sinful thoughts. And yet herein lies the value and the proper use of the Light of Jesus in my life. He gives me His Light to illuminate my path. He gives my His Light that my life may be happier, brighter, and filled with peace. When I am walking next to a fellow traveler in life, my light can help us both as long as I don’t use it against him or her.
You see, it is when I decide to turn the Light onto my fellow traveler, to shine it in his or her eyes, that the precious gift of Jesus becomes a blinding force rather than a precious gift. We too often want to use the Light of Jesus to illuminate the sins of others thereby using His Light as a judgment in their lives rather than a ministry of reconciliation and love. When I am tempted to argue the “truth” with a fellow traveler, I think about that night on the north side of Mount St. Helens. I remember how it felt to be blinded by the light that would have otherwise helped me find my way, and then I remember to use God’s Word to shine Light onto the path and not into the eyes of the one next to me.
May we remember why Jesus has given us His Light as we read in Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.