A preaching friend I knew in south Mississippi about a hundred years ago recently wrote about his summer vacations at his “Granddaddy and Mamaw’s” house and the “neat” experience of having to get drinking water via the hand pump and dipper at the well. I wrote him and told him I could remember similar experiences at my dad’s family farm in Indiana. The biggest differences, I guess, were the lack of a pump on the well. Grandpa used a bucket, rope and pulley to get the water up, though there was a hand pump attached to the kitchen sink.
Ken also talked about having to use the outdoor “facilities” at night, which exposed him to all the “bears, lions, snakes, wildcats, panthers” waiting for him in the shadows. He remembers vividly the “many times I barely made it back to the house in a dead heart-pounding run, one step ahead of whatever-it-was that was chasing me!”
Lots of us can relate to the fear of the “things that go bump in the night,” or maybe don’t make any noise at all until they have you. Growing up as a young teenager, I sometimes got home from an activity after dark. Our residential street had a short (100 yards) stretch of woods just off Bankhead Avenue on Atlanta’s west side. Those woods were thick and dark, especially on a moonless night. Now, I didn’t always run, but I did sometimes shield me eyes so I couldn’t see the woods! Those goblins couldn’t get me if I couldn’t see them! It made some sense at the time.
Scripture often uses the images of light and darkness to illustrate the spiritual principles of knowledge and ignorance, of righteousness and sin, of truth and error. Moses said regarding the creation, “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). David famously wrote “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). He followed it in the same psalm (v. 130), “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
Jesus describes himself as “the light of the world,” and added, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). Light and darkness are always separate, and that is never truer than with spiritual light and darkness.
The Bible also talks about “walking in the light” (see 1 John 1:5-10). The light of God is always available to us if we choose to walk in it. Christians don’t have to walk in the darkness (though we will, being human and subject to temptation). But when we do, through humble confession, we can be forgiven because God is faithful and just.
Jesus referred to himself as light, in part, to give light to everyone who wants to see the eternal difference between him and darkness (John 1:9). “…whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:20-21).
Light or dark — where do you want to live?