Living in the Light

Several years ago, I took our oldest son on a wilderness camping experience in the northern Colorado Rockies. He was a city boy who grew up in Denver and hadn't spent much time in the wilderness. He was used to city lights and activity, not stars and coyotes. Wilderness was not a natural fit for him.

I took him to the wilderness to teach him -- and have a little fun at his expense. One night, I set up a challenge for him. About a half mile from our camp, I hid an object behind a forest service sign and told him he had to head off in the darkness to find it.

With no flashlight. After dark. With coyotes crying in the distance.

I told him he could take anything with him, so he chose a weapon and set off on his search. What he didn't know is that we were following him several yards behind just to keep an eye on him. A twig would snap, and he'd panic and take off running. At one point, he ran past us in a blur without seeing us there. He arrived back at camp, his heart pounding.

We reminded him he could take ANYTHING but a light. He thought for a moment and asked, "Can I take one of you guys?" I responded, "Yes, you can!" So he set off back into the darkness and accomplished his task. We were his companions in the darkness.

The light of God is our companion in the darkness. We try to navigate this life on our own -- without the light of God to lead us -- and end up spending so much of our existence in survival mode as we react and stumble along the way.

The prophet Isaiah said, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned." John reminds us to "live in the light as he is in the light."

So what is life in the light like? Here are a few thoughts:

1] Living in the light is a person decision (John 12:35-36). It is a decision of our will. In God's grace, he has shown us the Way, but it is our personal choice whether or not to accept God's Truth or not.

2] Living in the light brings transformation (Ephesians 5:8 & 1 John 2:6). When we live life illuminated by God's Truth, there will be a shift in our ethics, our values, and our relationships with others and ourselves -- all because there's been a transformation in our relationship with God.

3] We will still feel the tension between living in the light and living in darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5 & Romans 7:14-25). Paul called it wrestling with the "old self". He admitted that he didn't understand why he kept doing the things he didn't want to do. All he could do was trust Jesus. Like Paul, we don't want to become complicit with darkness, but we will wrestle with it at times.

4] We will love justice if we are in the light (Isaiah 58:7-10). Light in scripture is often used as a metaphor for our witness, and our care for the oppressed is an authentic sign of a life lived in the light of God.

5] We will love the Law of God if we are in the light (Proverbs 6:23 & 1 John 5:3). There is a hijacked view of God which tries to convince us God is raining on our pleasure parade with all his restrictive, oppressive, and old-fashioned commandments. But his laws are none of those things. God's Law is simply a better way to live -- life-giving! Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The light of God is a gift to those who receive it. It is our constant companion as we navigate the Way in this world.