Act not in fear, but out of love.
Put Self below and not above.
Rather be wronged than to do wrong
When all shrink back, keep standing strong.
When all Hope fades, let yours shine bright.
In deepest Dark, be brightest Light.
For every valley, deep and dark,
A flame of glee begins to spark.
When we cry out from mountain tops,
A time will come when feasting stops.
Do not ask “why” of suffering;
Don’t to despair or brightness cling.
Shadows fall and light will rise.
It’s all laid out before your eyes.
Life is not life without its seasons,
And darkness has no deeper reasons
Than to balance out the light.
So keep the longer view in sight.
What now is will soon be past.
Embrace the moment while it lasts.
For every light,
A bit of darkness comes forth.
The reverse is true.
“He called the light day, and the darkness night. So evening came, and morning came; it was the first day.” — Genesis 1:5, REB
When God creates the universe in Genesis 1, He begins by bringing forth light. We tend to understand light as being positive. God is light (1 John 1:5), Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12), and we are called to be children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). We get it: light is good.
But life isn’t all light and sunshine.
There is darkness in this world, both physically and in a spiritual sense. We experience pain, suffering, violence, and oppression. People starve, fall ill, are attacked, make mistakes, and leave us too soon every day.
Darkness is often portrayed in Scripture and religion as the enemy. It is the sign of evil, ignorance, and suffering. Yet all God makes in Genesis 1 is called “very good,” and in the initial verses God doesn’t eliminate darkness.
Darkness is kept, named, and maintained as an ever-present aspect of reality. As such, it is part of God’s “very good” creation. We may not like it, it may hurt, but it’s also how we are aware of light.
When a light is turned on, shadows immediately emerge. This is a law of life. What we know as “good” and “evil” are only definable in the context of each other. Both are necessary for wisdom in life.
Sitting in silent worship last night, I looked at my candle and asked for Christ to teach me wisdom. What I received was a message I have needed for a long time.
You see, I hated my darkness. I have a past, and though I’ve accepted that it happened, I hadn’t accepted that the person I am today doesn’t deserve to constantly be punished for that past… until last night.
What came to me was, “You cannot be the better man you are now if the worse man had never been.”
Have I made mistakes? YES! But paying for those and learning from them has led me to a place in which I am proud of the person I am now. I am not perfect by any means, but I am learning to love myself, and my love for others is enhanced because of it.
This couldn’t be the case if not for my darkness. The same is true for you and for all of humanity. Our darkest moments help highlight (and even produce) our greatest ones. Does this mean we strive to promote evil so that good may come? Of course not!
Rather, this message should serve as a reminder that where darkness is, light is close at hand. By the same token, where there is light, shadows fall. Therefore, we should neither be hopeless or complacent, but ever watchful for what God is calling us to.
Peace be with you!
“Good people produce good from the store of good within themselves; and evil people produce evil from the evil within them. For the words that the mouth utters come from the overflowing of the heart.” — Luke 6:45, REB
In the ancient world, the heart was where thinking was supposed to occur. Feeling occured in the stomach and the head… was there. When someone in the Bible is referred to as hard-hearted, it means they are stupid as opposed to the common interpretation that they lack compassion (though there is a correlation).
So in the sixth chapter of Luke, when Jesus is in the midst of a sermon, he drops a lovely nugget (more like ten) for today’s seeker. He speaks of our good and bad produce, that they “come from the overflowing of the heart.” In today’s terminology, we might say that such thing come from the overflowing of our mind.
What we occupy ourselves with internally will always manifest externally.
If we are bitter, insecure, wrathful, hateful, or prejudiced in our mind, we will behave accordingly. Likewise, if we are in the habit of internally practicing forgiveness, compassion, love, acceptance, and gratitude, our lives with bear evidence of such meditations. Where we place our energy is important, as it determines what we contribute to this world.
Let’s go forward with a mind that will help us produce something good in our lives. It’s so easy in the current political and social climate to become full of self-righteous negativity. But no matter how justified we may feel in our darkness, it’s still darkness, and it doesn’t help.
Instead, let the Light shine. First, let it shine within you. Once we do that, it will inevitably shine through us for others.
Peace be with you!
Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. — Luke 11:35, NRSV
We humans have a tendency to focus on the negative. If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship at any time, you ought to be aware of this. We tend to notice and emphasize the flaws in ourselves and/or each other, and negative memories are often closer at hand than positive ones. Obviously, this isn’t good for us, but what do we do?
In the Scripture for today, Jesus reflects on the healthiness of our “eye,” for it “is the lamp of the body” (Luke 11:34). As such, the health of our “eye” determines whether or not we are full of light or darkness. We are cautioned to “consider whether the light in you is not darkness,” in order that we may be “full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays” (11:35-36).
This teaching of Jesus has a prophetic quality to it, meaning it is something of which we should always be aware. At any time, that which should lead us to living lives of light could become a means by which we stumble and bring about darkness. However, this also works in reverse!
When we face our darkness or that of others, it’s important to remember that the same qualities that drive us nuts are also part of what makes us beautiful. The trick is acknowledging this and tempering those qualities so that our light shines brighter and brighter.
For example, I deal with depression. I feel things intensely, and this can obviously cause problems for myself and others. However, it’s also true that this emotional turbulence is actually the inverse of the ferocity with which I love and care for other people. My wife deals with anxiety and is always looking for the next thing to accomplish or the next “life stage” we can get to. It drives me crazy! Yet I am also aware that this is simply the extreme of those qualities that make her the most gracious, accommodating, and driven person I know.
The light in us can easily become our darkness, and this is a life-long balancing act for which we should be graciously and compassionately prepared. Our gifts can quickly become our curses if we are not careful, and we can also be too quick to judge the darkness in one another without considering how these qualities are a part of what make them a source of light in the world. Likewise, when all we can see is the darkness, we should be encouraged by the knowledge that light is always close at hand!
You may be in a place in life that’s limiting your vision to your faults or those of others. Take heart, and remember that the light is never far. Sometimes all it takes is getting back into balance and focusing our energy on those parts of us in which God delights.
Peace be with you!