On June 29, 2014 I received a phone call that would change everything. I was told that my sister (my best friend) was gone. The words coming from the phone sucked the air out of my lungs, and I couldn’t breathe…It wasn’t until later I realized that suddenly, I also couldn’t see.
Imagine yourself in a pitch-black room. You can’t see anything, not even the hand you’re waving in front of your obscured face. Suddenly, there’s a light – a candle. Where do your eyes immediately fixate? On that little flicker of light…because it’s all you can see.
That sort of describes my last year. Intense darkness – and flickering light.
I remember those first 24 hours. I whispered the name of Jesus repeatedly. But I wasn’t calling out to Him, exactly. It came out more like a question. “Jesus?….Jesus…?”
My mouth was grasping for what my mind wasn’t ready to articulate: “Jesus? Are you there? Jesus? How could this have happened? Jesus? Where are you?”
Right before tragedy struck our family, God had repeatedly drawn my attention to Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”
Keeping my eyes on Him, locking eyes with my Savior. That was the posture He had me in the weeks preceding the phone call. But when the news came, I somehow found myself frantically looking around into the darkness and whispering, “Jesus…?”
(I didn’t realize I had closed my eyes the moment my world turned black.)
In the weeks and months that followed, I eventually forced my eyes back open and found that flicker of light once again. At times it seemed barely a spark; other times it was a dazzling light. But I don’t think the difference had anything to do with Jesus. The quality and quantity of light that He offers is consistent and complete.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
I think the difference had more to do with my vision.
I became curious about the impact that light has on our eyes, so I did a little research. One website described it like this: “Like a camera depends on light to capture vivid images, your eyes depend upon the correct amount of light to see properly. At night, more light is usually needed to see things you might have seen easily during the day. When it’s dark, the iris widens and the pupil dilates, or gets bigger, to allow as much light as possible to enter the eye…”
The problem wasn’t an insufficiency of light. It was there. My eyes had to adjust properly to “allow as much light as possible to enter.”
Have you ever experienced the kind of darkness that seems to swallow you whole? And have you noticed how in those most oppressive moments, the light of Christ captures our gaze like never before? But we must allow the light to enter.
In the last 12 months, I have experienced more darkness AND more light than I had in the decades prior. That’s the thing about darkness. It gives us the opportunity to adjust our gaze and fixate on His radiance.
More recently, God’s been peeling back another layer of this concept to my heart. All this time, I had been looking for light from somewhere outside of myself. Scanning the darkness, searching for the eyes of Christ to keep me safely within His illuminating gaze.
And that’s good. That has sustained me. But the Lord has recently brought the following verses to my attention in a fresh way:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…” (Ephesians 5:8)
These Scriptures teach me that the light of Christ is something that I no longer have to search for from without. That was before I knew Him – before His Spirit came to live in me. But Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The Holy Spirit – the very light of Christ is already within me! I once was darkness, but now I am light!
When we encounter the darkness of life’s trials, those who have the Spirit of Christ living within us already have everything we need to encounter the light. We need not grope desperately around in the dark, trying to find Him. He offers so much more than a flicker of light across the room. He offers a fire ABLAZE from within!
And when we “live as children of light,” we now have something to offer this dark, hurting world. You see, there are so many others around us, searching, groping, trying to lock eyes with something life-giving. And because He “made His light shine in our hearts,” we illuminate the path to Him.
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 11:33)
May we all let the eyes of our hearts “allow as much light as possible to enter,” for we ARE “the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14)
What a beautiful and humbling thing that the Savior of the world chooses to take up residency in our hearts. What a wonderful and miraculous thing that our spiritual eyes are full of His light and love, even (especially?) in the darkest of places.
May we find Him there, radiating from within.