The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. – Isaiah 9:2
It was dark. Very dark. The darkest of darks. It was as if there was nothing there. The very air itself cast a black blanket around her. It surrounded her, engulfed her. It was suffocating her. She felt the thickness of the darkness, her own breathing muffled so much that she could barely hear herself, could barely tell that her heart was beating, that she was alive. The thick blackness cushioned itself around her, and yet it left her ice cold. So cold, in fact, that she was began not to feel it anymore, she began to feel her very senses fall away.
She had almost forgotten what she was doing, why she was here. Had almost forgotten who she was or where she was going. Each step took her a shard of a fragment further on, further away from what she had left behind. And yet she had lost her way. She had been walking for so long. It had long passed the time at which she had expected to be there, expected to be anywhere. She didn’t even know where she was going, didn’t even know what she was looking for. But something within her kept her going, something within her drove her on.
But her body was weak, and though she felt the force spurring her on, she could feel her strength waning within her, her feet breaking with every step. And as a sudden feeling of fear and hopelessness overwhelmed her, her knees hit the ground, bowing her head in despair.
But something changed. She felt the moment happen again. Because as her knees hit the ground, the darkness was broken. It was the smallest of lights, but to her it was as though, from being blind, she could now see. And as she lifted her eyes to the sky she fixed her sight on the most beautiful light she had ever seen. A single star. A tear in the sky through which the light of heaven shone through.
And so she followed the star. She followed the star because it was all she had and yet it was everything too. She followed the star because she knew that it would lead her to the place she needed to be, she knew it would lead her home.
I wrote the poor extract above on Christmas Eve, in an attempt to express something of the meaning of Christmas. I have always been struck by the imagery of light in the bible and wanted to try and express it in my own writing. If you’ve made it through my sketchy first draft thoughts then I hope you’ll bear with me in explaining it just a little.
Because, in taking the verse at the beginning of this post, I wanted to show you something of the wonder of the light that came at Jesus’ birth, of the true and certain hope that his life, death and resurrection give us. And to show the glory that comes with the light, I wanted to show you the darkness before.
The extract that I wrote isn’t literally my experience, but I wanted to express the feeling of what it is to find this beautiful light, this beautiful hope after having walked my life in darkness. Because in a way, I think that all of us find it easy to forget our purpose, to forget what it means to be a life. And I think that, on our own, it is very easy to lose our way, to place our hope in changing and failing things, to walk away from what we were created to be and to pursue our own ideas and desires.
Just like the Prodigal Son, I know what it is to have turned away from God and to have forgotten what I had been given, to have wasted my inheritance. And just like the Prodigal Son I felt the loss and emptiness of a life without God, I saw that I couldn’t do so many things on my own and that I needed my Father. My knees hit the ground, and I bowed my head. I had lived my life so far for my own glory, my own reputation and my own wishes, and yet I found myself too weak live life in my own power, I found that I needed my Heavenly Father, and yet I had turned away from Him.
But the beautiful thing here is that, though I walked in my own darkness, my Father gave me a light, just like the light of the star that He gave the wise men those many years ago. And though there is still darkness in life, though we all face suffering and though I still struggle with things that overwhelmed me before, I have the light of God to lead me. And this light is far more powerful than the darkness.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. – John
Because I have a Father in heaven who loves me, not because of what I have done, but because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, whose love is therefore unchanging, whose strength I rest upon on. I have a Father in heaven, who reached out to me when I was in darkness and brought me into His wonderful light.
When humanity walked in darkness, when every single one of us falls short and so often turns to sin, God the Father sent His Son into the world, and light dawned upon us.
And this light doesn’t just hold for one day, it isn’t just the temporary flame of a candle, its life isn’t limited like the power like a lightbulb. The light that came down that first Christmas over two thousand years ago is eternal. And it is the light that will lead us home.