In these dark days filled with “news” that is so often manipulated and cloaked with deceptive obfuscation, a couple of events come to mind whose lessons about truth and light, though not new, are worth repeating.
One of those took place in a large auditorium where we stood along with a thousand or more others during a holiday service that was about to move into its closing segment. Everyone had been given a little unlit candle, and we held them and waited as the room grew quiet and the lights began to dim. In a few seconds, every light had been extinguished and as darkness filled the room, an indelible memory from an experience early in my life began a re-play in my mind.
A Discovery with Depth ~
I had never been claustrophobic, but touring a series of caverns in the Blue Ridge mountains had a disconcerting, claustrophobic quality for me. For a teenage country boy who had only seen mountains once, the prospect of descending into those caves seemed like a pretty exciting new adventure. Our small group followed a tour guide along some twisting passageways that seemed to wind downward forever before the narrow, damp rock walls opened into a huge cave. I had never heard the term “stalactite” or “stalagmite” before but was impressed that they were smart enough to invent a couple of words so the guide didn’t have to refer to them over and over as a “pointy thing hanging down” or a “pointy thing poking up”.
The air felt damp and humid, and we were surrounded by cold rock walls. The only sounds other than the guide’s voice were the shuffling of our feet and the sound of dripping and running water. The guide droned on and on about how the caves were formed, who discovered them, what kinds of creatures lived down there, and other stuff that really wasn’t all that interesting. The formations were beautiful to look at, though, and I was appropriately amazed as the guide informed us that we would now get to see what the caverns looked like in their natural setting. That was confusing, because I thought that’s what we were already doing. Then they turned off all the lights.
A Dark Moment ~
Apparently, we had descended more than half a mile beneath the surface and were totally cut off from any source of natural light. As blackness engulfed everything, the guide explained that we were “seeing” dark that was as dark as it was possible for dark to be. Whether that statement was scientifically true or not, I’ll never forget how paralyzing and frightening it was to be in darkness that was that complete. The black atmosphere was almost tangible, and it was horrifying to think about what would happen if I was trapped down there alone. It was like my eyes had stopped working altogether, and the feeling etched itself into my long-term memory. Darkness can feel overwhelming and frightening.
The auditorium wasn’t as dark as that cave, but the contrast from its former brightly lit condition was powerful. When the lights had remained out long enough for our eyes to adjust as much as possible someone down front struck a match and lit a single candle. The impact of that tiny flame was impressive. Even though it only illuminated the small space immediately around it, even those in the back row of the upper balcony could see it. Then the person holding that initial candle extended it and touched the exposed wick of another candle being held by someone else. Now there were two.
A Mesmerizing Process ~
A simple process began to unfold. Those two used their candles to light the candle of the person next to them and that person repeated the process. From our perch in the balcony, we watched the little lights move slowly across the auditorium, candle by candle. The scene was mesmerizing and the feeling was unforgettable and inspiring. Little by little, one candle at a time, the darkness began to retreat as hundreds of little flames proved themselves invincible against the darkness that fled before them. By the time the last candle was lit, it was incredible how bright the huge auditorium had become and lessons we all need to remember began to hit home.
The tiny flames multiplying in that auditorium illuminated something profound. It was the light that dispelled the darkness—not the people holding the candles. It didn’t matter whether the person was old or young, male or female, white or black, conservative or liberal. The darkness didn’t flee because of the personality, education, or spiritual gifts of the people with the candles, and no one’s flame was different or more special than anyone else’s.
Another enlightening realization was that the task of transforming that huge room enveloped in darkness wasn’t delegated to one or two with impressive “anti-darkness” credentials. Everyone shared one simple task. If our candle was burning, we were to reach out to someone next to us and share the one thing we had that the darkness couldn’t overcome. It was a simple one-at-a-time process, but the speed and efficiency of that design in defeating the surrounding darkness was astounding.
It’s Not Complicated ~
It’s easy these days to feel overwhelmed and hopeless against the darkness that has shrouded a nation once brightly lit with the Truth of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s tempting to withdraw and hope that God will send some gifted person with a holy floodlight to dispel it, but that’s not His plan. Jesus said,
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46 NKJV).
Jesus is the only power God sent to dispel a spiritual darkness that is omnipotent apart from contact with the light that is in Him and He has transmitted that light to us.
The prevalent darkness isn’t the fault of the people lost in it. Jesus passed the task of dispelling it to us when He said, “You are the light of the world….” (Matthew 5:14a NKJV). The task confronting us isn’t complicated. It begins by checking to see if your candle is lit, and if it is, then simply share your light with those around you who are still in the dark.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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