Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about light. As the days get shorter and the nights earlier, I am increasingly aware of my need for it. As the light decreases so does my energy. I’m less motivated to head out in the early morning to walk. Come evening, I’d rather stay cozily cooped up inside than gallivant about. And living in the country means more stars, but it also means it’s harder to see at night.
All this is beyond my control. As the earth journeys around the sun, it limits the amount of light I receive. There is, however, a light that never changes.
“I am the light of the world,” Jesus said in John 8:12 (NLT). “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Why light? For one, nothing can live without it. Absolute darkness is incompatible with life.
Light also reveals things. The road in the path of my headlights. The steps to my front door (when the bulb is working). Obstacles and dangers that might harm me. And on a spiritual level, it reveals false teachings and things I’d rather hide.
As one of my children pointed out, Jesus’ claim also countered the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians and other early civilizations, which worshipped deities that they thought resided in the sun. In contrast, Christ – a living, breathing being – claimed to be more powerful than physical light. He claimed to be a light that would not only sustain life in this world but in the world everlasting.
How could anyone make such a statement?
In claiming to be ‘the light,’ Christ referred to an ancient prophesy, which spoke of a time of great gloom, when “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). This passage ends with the promise of the birth of a child whose name would be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” and of whose kingdom there would be no end. Christians see the fulfillment of these promises in Christ.
So what does this mean for us?
For those who follow Christ, it means that even when the world grows dark – whether literally or metaphorically – God himself, in whom there is no darkness, will be our guide. He guides us through his Word, the Bible. He guides us through the life of his Son, Jesus. And he guides us through the gift of the Holy Spirit, his presence with us.
The amount of light we receive is not limited by outside forces, but by our proximity to it. Will I follow Jesus or not? And if so, how closely will I follow? While walking at night, it is much easier to see the path if I am the one holding the light, than if I am following from a distance.
And so, as the days shorten and the light dims, consider the light that leads to life. Read the book of John, and see what truths God brings to light.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Connect at www.meadowrue.com