In our recent mission trip to Costa Rica, our mission team adopted a theme of walking in the Light. One of the songs we sang as a team was the gospel song “Jesus, the Light of the World.”
When living in darkness, it is often hard to find light, and even harder to walk in that light. We see poverty in various forms. We hear stories of prostitution, gangs, and massive drug use. And we see darkness.
Yet, we are reminded:
“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, CEB).
Jesus said that. While we follow the Light that is Jesus Christ, he tells us that we are the light. We carry the light with us. So, it is our responsibility as followers of Christ to bear the light in the midst of darkness.
We met a boy around the age of 8 or 9 named Andres in Los Diques. He was shy and uncertain about coming back to the Bible school. But, after we got started the next day, he showed up. He and Megan bonded from the very beginning. We learned as the week went on that Andres lived with his mother and step-father, and that his step-father made sure that his biological children were feed first, before Andres was fed. Andres got especially close to Megan, and Megan to him.
The light was shared in the relationships that were formed.
Here is a video of the gospel song, “Jesus, the Light of the World,” featuring the late Jessy Dixon:
Like the flip of a switch, a heart attack takes the life of a saint. Like the flip of a switch, a father leaves his family. Like the flip of a switch, one argument leaves a relationship in shattered pieces. Like the flip of a switch, a car accident leaves a mother paralyzed. Like the flip of a switch, one loses his/her job. Like the flip of a switch. . . . .
Like the flip of a switch, life changes.
Like the flip of a switch, we are left in darkness.
When the darkness comes in its like looking through a peephole at life, all while knowing there are bright windows to see the light, but we can’t find them. It becomes a place where it is difficult to find hope, difficult to find peace, difficult to know what to do and where to go. Mark Lowry (the writer of the song Mary, Did You Know?) once described faith as a flickering light. We’re trying to remember in the darkness what we saw in the light.
A youth ministry activity that I have done in the past explored how close students feel to the light or to the darkness. I set up out water color paints, cups of water, paintbrushes and art paper and simply instruct students to paint something that represents how close they feel to either the light or the dark. The first I time I did this, the students asked to share their paintings. We did. And the stories they told were powerful, capturing the eternal struggle between light and darkness. We talk about what the dark and the light represent in our world and in our lives. We talk about how quickly the darkness can overpower the light, but also how the light can overpower the darkness.
One example from scripture is the story of Paul’s conversion (Acts 9). Paul’s story tells us that change is possible. We can leave the darkness and find the light. We don’t have to look at life through a peephole. There is hope.