Making Room: Turn Off the Lights



by Ben Gibson

We live in a world with too much light. At the flip of a switch we have access to something which was hard to come by for most of human history. Light emanates from our phones, from our computers. On an episode of Planet Earth, David Attenborough (in his ever so pleasant British accent) explained that the light from cities has caused confusion among baby sea turtles who once were guided to the ocean by the moon. Upon hatching, the first light they see is street lamps rather than the moon, resulting in the baby turtles fumbling across streets and curbs rather than waddling to the ocean. Even tiny turtles on the edge of the civilized world cannot escape the ever present deluge of light.

We live in a world where we set up too many lights to live by. We are uncomfortable in darkness and ambiguity. So, we search out lights to guide us. We are drawn toward the lights of success, comfort, relationship, and career. These are not bad things. But just as the village lights become fatal for baby turtles who are drawn toward streets with rushing cars, the lights we let guide us draw us toward something other than our true home. Confused by the numerous lights that we see giving off a dull glow, we lose sight of the light we were born to see.

Take time to sit in the darkness. The only way to find the true light is to turn off the other ones. Growing up, my parents would nightly have us turn off all the lights in the house to light the advent candles. We would do our advent devotional, reading and singing by only the few remaining lights. During this Advent season, we should turn off the phone sooner than we think we should and power down the computer before all our work is done. We need to turn off the lights. In those dark moments we can take the time to recognize what we have set up as lights in our hearts. We should strip them away so that our souls might spend some moments in darkness. We might just see the light that has come down.


A Great Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

At age 23 I was in the darkness. I knew it. How could I know the maker of all things? I could never be good enough. Then the light broke into my life.  My Christian friends told me it had nothing to do with my acceptability and everything to do with my need.

I heard the living word. Jesus, the light of the world who through all things were made, and in him was life and that life was the light of men and of me. He made me acceptable by paying my debt I could never pay.

The sinful woman who spread perfume, tears and kisses on Jesus feet knew she wasn’t able to save herself. She had seen a great light. Her savior.

Did the Samaritan woman at the well after 5 husbands see the light shining in the world when Jesus told her that the water he gave her would become in her a spring of water welling up to eternal life?

The man who was born blind could see after years of darkness. Jesus healed him and he could see the light. Jesus asked if he believed in the son of man. He said he believed and worshiped Jesus. He recognized the true light of the world.

And when the end will come, Jesus will take those who need him more than themselves to their eternal home where there will be no more night. “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” We have truly seen a great light and he is Jesus.
~J. Lovegren

We Can Be Lights

See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
 Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Isaiah 60.2-3
A few years ago, I had the pleasure to be on a backpacking trip to Yellow Aster Butte.  From our campsite, we could see across a valley toward Mt. Shuksan and to our right, Mt. Baker.  I was fortunate to get up early the next morning and sit on a rock looking across the valley and see the sun rise.  At first, just a sliver of the sun’s rays were able to peek their way over the mountains, but then the sun, shining in all it’s splendor, shone it’s rays into the valley, turning everything a brilliant pink and orange.

That is the first thing that popped into my head when I read over Isaiah 60.2-3.  The shady valley, like the earth, and the sun, like Christ, and the gospel, shining light into us, so that we might reflect that light to those around us.

Recently, I did a report on the persecution of Christians in Somalia.  Though they suffer bitter persecution, they are able to still shine the light in a dark place. Through Christ, and thanks be to God, we can be lights.
~Hans Tamminga (age 13)

Christ Comes to Bring Us Light

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
~John 12:46
The idea of light liberating the darkness comes up numerous times throughout the Bible, especially in the Beginning. It’s easy to forget how profound and amazing it is that Christ turns our personal darkness into light.
Reflecting on this verse, I remembered something that happened to me at college. Last year, my regular studying place was the floor lounge of the hall I lived on. However, for all of first semester, the overhead lights wouldn’t work, so the only lighting was a small lamp in the corner. We tried several times to get it fixed, but the maintenance guy could never figure out what was wrong. Then when I came back from Christmas break, I walked down to the lounge, and knew immediately something was different: the lights had finally been fixed.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for light as I was that moment.  That’s how I should feel every moment.
It’s easy to take light for granted. But just as I was thankful for the return of light in the floor lounge, we must be thankful for the light Christ brings. He has taken us out of the darkness of sin, and brought us into His magnificent light, a light brighter than we could ever imagine.
~Lea Gibson

Trembling at Dawn

Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains…
Joel 2: 1b-2a

How can we prepare for the darkness of what is coming? It is so close at hand. We know our death is inevitable, that our return to dust is a given, yet we tremble in fear at that awareness. Even God Himself, praying in the Garden before His arrest, faced the inevitability of His death with painful anguish. As one of us, locked in our flesh, His heart beating and bleeding, He experienced doubt, acknowledged abandonment, knew betrayal. God forsaken of God.

Overwhelmed by the army of locusts descending in the cloud as described in this Chapter of Joel, our darkness has become His darkness.

Only one who knows that suffering can lead us out of the gloom into the dawn of a new day, into a new life.

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart and not your garments.
Joel 2:12-13a

~E. Gibson

Accustomed to Darkness

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them
and they were sore afraid.  Luke 2:9

Brilliant light claimed a part of one Judean evening so many years ago. The men who saw it were not unlike us; they were familiar with darkness, wary of whatever might harm their livelihood and always on the watch for predators. More than us, they were always keen for the first glimpse of dawn on the horizon, glad for the peace daylight brings.

Light came to those men in a way they never expected. That evening, they became a part of the select few who had seen God’s glory barefaced and without warning. God chose to proclaim the first news of his light and his peace to men who were waiting for daylight to come. After so many years of silence, the Father revealed his glory, yet he did not leave them in fear; he proclaimed the news of his grace. When the sky darkened again, these men departed with unveiled faces to see for themselves this glory: the salvation of God.

We are not unlike them: we too are accustomed to darkness, familiar with fear, waiting for news of peace. We too have unveiled faces, and we wait in the hope of God’s promise: that we will become a part of that glory, that our faith shall become sight.

Don’t stop waiting. It may be as night, but the King has come, and he will come again.

~Breanna Siebring

“Overcome us that, so overcome, we may be ourselves: we desire the beginning of your reign as we desire dawn and dew, wetness at the birth of light.” – C.S. Lewis

A Great Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

How often do we walk in total darkness?   As little as possible. It is petrifying to try to find one’s way around when the power goes out on a moonless stormy night, trying to find where the candles are stored, or the flashlight that isn’t where it is supposed to be.  Toes get stubbed, knees get bruised, heads get bonked.  It is a feeling of complete vulnerability to navigate without light.

The darkest place on earth may well be underground in a cavern with no light source.  There is no sun, no moon, no stars.  You can’t see your hand right in front of your face.  It is what the blind experience day and night, but one minute of that blackness can be overwhelming to the sighted who plead for the lights to be turned back on.

And so we long for  light to illuminate the dark pathways of our life, to plunge the shadow of death into the dawn.

The light will rise, bringing us with it.