Once, in a Walmart, Nick and I bought Sophia a flashlight of her very own. Sophia flipped on the one we thought would work best, trying it out. But none of us could see even a little glow. The fluorescent lights of the store were too bright; the flashlight’s meager light was swallowed up.
“Oh, Mummy,” Sophia pled, “can we please go find some darkness?”
Can we please go find some darkness?
From the mouth of babes comes the wisdom of Christ.
Darkness is everywhere. We live in a world full of fear and in need of light. No one could doubt it who sat with me that day in a safe house in Greece, listening to Nadia and Mary and the others rescued from human trafficking relate their stories of treachery and horror and rape and murder. No child could doubt it who experienced, like me, abuse at the hands of trusted adults. No adult could doubt it who spent months looking euphorically ahead to the birth of a much-loved, much-anticipated child — only to be told in cold, clinical terms, “It is no longer alive.” No one could doubt it who had stood, as I had, in Auschwitz, contemplating the unspeakable horrors that had been committed there. No, clearly, darkness is everywhere.
But “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said.
A city 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 praise your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:14-16
The light quenches the darkness.
The light is a danger to it. The light eliminates the darkness. The darkness should be afraid of the light, because the light of Christ will eat it up. Just as morning follows night, the light of Christ is always coming.
As His hands and feet, we are the force that conquers the dark. We hold the truth that wipes out fear.
Keep your eyes on Me, Jesus says.
His presence in the darkness, in the face of the most primal, serious danger, vanquishes fear. Scripture promises,
Perfect love casts out fear. — 1 John 4:18
And it does. You see Him, not the evil or the danger, but the love and the light. And you discover something that will change your life and the life of everyone you touch. Once fear no longer controls you, and Christ is walking by your side, you are undaunted — and eager to go find some darkness.
Being the Light of the World
The prophet Isaiah says:
Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you. And His glory will be seen upon you. — Isaiah 60:1-2
God’s glory is upon us. It can break through the darkest night. It is in us ready to burst out and overwhelm the darkness.
This is what light does. It makes the darkness disappear.
It edges out the black, overtakes it, gobbles it up, and eats it away. That is why God brings us each new morning. But although the light and the power are God’s, He wants us to partner with Him in bringing light into the dark places where oppressors try their best to shut people away in darkness.
We can get worn down by the needs in this world, and wearied by them, God knows. We need sleep, rest, restoration, recuperation. That’s why God gives us the end of a day, and He doesn’t begrudge us our rest. He doesn’t want us to come to the end of ourselves and be defeated and enslaved in a spiritual Auschwitz, tormented, thinking it is the work we do that sets us free, so that we have to get back up on the treadmill and do more, be more. No, He doesn’t want us to burn the candle at both ends so that we end up lethargic, fatigued, burned up, and burnt out. To do that is to walk into the lie that was wrought in iron over the arched entrance of Auschwitz — to be held captive by the idea that work sets us free. This is not what God meant when He said in Isaiah 1:12:
Why this frenzy of sacrifices?
Working ourselves into a frenzy or tormenting others by working them to death is not freedom. It is enslavement.
But we are not slaves; we are free. And we have been freed for a purpose: to share what we’ve been given.
The Bible tells us,
He has shown you, oh man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8
We do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God when we rise ready, when we get up and go out with God to partner in His purposes on the earth. Some days, that may mean nothing more than doing a dozen little things throughout your waking hours: hearing that your neighbor’s husband has just walked out on her, and providing a listening ear, a casserole, and a shoulder to cry on; seeing the pain in the eyes of the girl at the checkout register; learning that someone has lost their job and their home, and opening yours to them till they can get back on their feet.
And some days, it means bigger, more dangerous tasks.
In the book of Esther, King Xerxes is persuaded by an adviser to issue an edict condemning all the nation’s Jews to death. Esther, a Jew, but chosen by King Xerxes as his queen, seems uniquely positioned to persuade the king to withdraw the edict — and, in fact, is urged to do so by Mordecai, who says,
Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? — Esther 4:14
Flying home from my visit to Auschwitz, I felt much the same: Who could say that I had not been born into a reasonably affluent and free society for such a time as this? For a time when I could see the injustice and crying need so common throughout the world and stand up to combat it?
You and I have opportunities every day to combat the darkness, the evil, that surrounds us in every country, every corner of the world.
The opportunities, in fact, are countless, and the needs are desperate.
Let my Schindler’s List moment ignite a similar moment in you. As God reminded me that day I stood in Auschwitz: As hard as it may be to believe, the crimes against God’s creation, against humanity, are no less egregious today than during the days the ovens were burning at Auschwitz, and those who perpetrate them no less cruel. Genocide, slavery, murder, rape, exploitation of the helpless — those things exist throughout the world, not just in concentration camps. And they exist now — not just in history.
Whoever saves one life saves the entire world.
The darkness surrounds us, and it is growing. But you are the light to combat that darkness. As am I. Together, with God’s help, let’s beat back the darkness for just one life. And then one more, and one more…
Watch the Video for Undaunted
Excerpted with permission from Undaunted by Christine Caine, copyright Zondervan.
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How and where are you shining? Today it may be doing something “small” — encouraging a neighbor or friend, buying food for a stranger in need, volunteering to make a meal for someone recovering from surgery or battling an illness. Or it could be something that you are uniquely ordained “for such a time as this”. Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you about being light in the darkness!