This month, like a couple of others when I have had to write this monthly piece, has been trying for me. Sometimes I just do not know what to write. I am preacher, not a writer. However the deadline loomed five days ago, and something must be written.
Let me start with a lyric from the band Mumford and Sons. “But hold on to what you believe in the light. When darkness has robbed you of all your sight.”
I came home from work the other day and said hello to my family in the usual way. Sometimes I feel very much like a stereotypical family man, and while a younger version of me would be nauseated at the idea, today I quite like being a family man. I kissed my wife and the baby she was holding. I had to find my son who was hiding simply by covering his eyes. All was right and I was happy.
Like other families I heard stories of what the children did when I was away. The girl is smiling now. Her mother can play a little game with her and her face will light up with joy that cannot be taught, but simply exists waiting for us to take it … or at least to acknowledge it. Then my wife said, “And Langston did the cutest thing!”
“Oh really?” I asked, “What’s that?”
“I was sitting on the couch feeding the baby when he marches into the room with his flashlight on,” she tells me. “I asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ and he tells me, ‘Looking for the dark, mommy.’” We laughed together as I imagined my son walking around in the fullness of day looking for darkness to illuminate.
Then as I sat with that image I wondered if there was not incredible truth some mixed with a boy’s play. He holds the light, and he knows the purpose of light. Light makes darkness go away. Perhaps my profession insists that I spiritualize his play, or perhaps his play forces me to become more spiritual.
Paul once wrote to a group of people frightened by the darkness that reached for them, “you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.” It was his way of reminding them that even though dark days loom ahead, even though evil would try its hardest, and even though sometimes we feel lost we are not. For we are heirs of salvation, purchased by God and thereby children of light.
In my little boy’s playtime he gave voice to a great truth. It is not darkness that can overtake light; it is light that overtakes darkness. Jesus once preached, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Perhaps he could have added a story about a boy with a flashlight that goes looking to eliminate darkness.
Darkness still saturates our lives, our families, our communities and our world. There are those who believe that it will win. Perhaps during the rough and tough days of life we wonder if the light is gone completely. It is then that we must remember what we believed in the light. If darkness has somehow robbed us of all our sight hold on to the belief that we share of Jesus. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
A friend of mine told me that he was quite afraid of dark as a child, a little more so than even normal. During a prayer meeting at his church his parents informed the people gathered that he was scared of the dark. He was not mocked or told it was silly to be afraid of the dark. Instead those who carried light surrounded him and prayed that he would know himself as a child of the light, as the beloved of God, as someone the darkness cannot touch. It was as though someone with a flashlight went looking for darkness in order that it would disappear.
Oh, that we all would carry such lights … I imagine the world would change.