It’s embarrassing to say it, but it really is quite easy for me to forget all about the deep darkness that covers this earth we live on. The poverty and injustice and abhorrent evil that characterizes the lives of so many is not something I live in as my daily reality, but rather something I have to go out of my way to find. I live comfortably, and the people who I interact with most consistently from day-to-day are people who love Jesus and are quick to encourage me and lift me up and pray for me when I am down.
I do not watch the nightly news. It is a conscious choice I made years ago after I realized it was not producing informed awareness in me, but rather, fear. The fear produced in me after I would feed on what the media was serving up that day would then fill my mind and my heart and my speech. It was bad news. (Pun!) And so, I turned it off.
I don’t believe we should be completely unaware of what is happening in the world, safe in our bubbles (as I tend to be), but I believe it is totally unnecessary to know every single shocking, jaw-dropping, and sensational thing happening on the face of the earth at all times. I try to inform myself of important issues in other ways, without all the sensationalism, but it is hard to do in this day and age, yes? I often wonder what it would have been like to live in a time where the news was conveyed solely by the mouth of a nearby friend or neighbor, rather than a never-ending, raucous, impersonal “News Feed” scrolling constant past my eyes or across the bottom of a screen. The way news was conveyed back then seemed… somehow closer to home. Did people feel more empowered or responsible to right the wrongs of the world in that context? Instead of being overwhelmed and bombarded by every bit of news from every corner of the earth, paralyzed to do anything by the sheer volume of wrong, were they more apt to act? Were there more heroes? Simply because the call to stand and fight hit closer to the marrow and was not lost in the noise of the WHOLE WIDE WORLD?
I have no answers to these questions, but these are just the things that I think about from time to time.
I have been reading this week about Jesus beginning His ministry. There is a prophecy from the book of Isaiah (chapter 9) that was fulfilled by Him starting out that ministry in the area of Galilee. It says of the people living there:
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
It struck me as I read of the deep darkness in the world even way back then, before there was twitter or facebook or talking heads on screens in everyone’s living rooms- the darkness people were living in then was the very same darkness that people who don’t see Jesus are living in now. The darkness is not darker now, just because we see more of the consequences of it. The lack of the light of Jesus is the same eternal blackness, no matter how it culturally manifests itself or how many people in the world can see its effects.
But on the other side of the token- the great LIGHT that has dawned on the hearts of those who see Jesus and believe that He is who He says he is… it is the very same light that burst forth all those ages ago when Jesus himself had his human toes in the dust of this earth, proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand! That light has not dimmed a single iota since that day, because that light was The Gospel and it is just as powerful & bright now as it ever was then.
So… why is the world still so dark, even after all these thousands of years since God himself dawned on that Galilee town?
I heard a preacher say it best the other day- there is a lot of soap in the world, but not everyone is clean. You have to reach out a GRAB the soap with your hands and apply it to yourself to be clean. And for many millions in this world, the light HAS dawned in their hearts because of their hope in Jesus. And it is still the job of those who have seen that great light to take it and shine it boldly from the mountaintops and hilltops and rooftops, into the very darkest places they can find.
So, I guess the thing I have realized in all these rabbit trails of thoughts is that, yes, things are very, very dark today. But on the other hand, has anything really changed since that day that He started preaching in that small town by the Sea of Galilee? “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.” Dark vs. Light, Death vs. Life. We have the exact same choice set before us today as they did back then.
Same dark… and same dark-quenching LIGHT. Will we choose to see?
Because of this great truth, PRASIE GOD, I don’t have to be afraid of the dark any longer. I can push it back wherever the Lord leads me. I am like a flashlight in His hands! No matter what the news screams at me through the televisions or computers of the world, the light has dawned, it is shining out from inside me, and I am forever and eternally illuminated. Lord, help me to not forget this or take this truth for granted. Open my eyes to see those right beside me who are still living in a land of deep shadows. Help me to remember who I am in You, and cause me to burn brightly right where I am by your grace and for Your glory.