Shining In the Dark
By Jennifer Slattery –
It is easy to live in self-protection mode. It is comfortable to surround ourselves with Christians, seated in a nice, safe, predictable church pew. But as I read the Bible, I never see God calling Christians into seclusion. Consider Joseph in an Egyptian prison. Egypt was a pagan land. How many prisoners, enslaved by darkness, watched Joseph pray day after day? And what about Paul? One of our favorite stories is of Paul singing in prison. How brightly did his light shine surrounded by inmates?
When our daughter was young, we lived in Southern California. Life in California is unique in many ways. It is not uncommon for a child to go through life without ever touching snow. You can live on top of your neighbors and not know them. You’ll spend hours in your car, not moving in rush-hour traffic. You’ll drive forty-five minutes to find the hiking trails cut in the center of the city. You’ll sit in your back yard, which will likely be covered in cement or gravel, and stare into the night sky in search of those ultra-bright stars that somehow manage to outshine the city lights.
One evening, we wanted her to see the night sky without the “dimming” city lights, so we drove to the desert. We lived on the edge of the Mojave, so it didn’t take long, but once we got there, the view was spectacular! The stars that appeared so faint at home blazed, and numerous stars that were previously out-glimmered by streetlights, dotted the sky.
This image often comes to mind when I pray for guidance. As new opportunities come my way, my first reaction is always self-protection—to remain tucked in my nice church pew, surrounded by brightly shining Christians, waiting…just waiting for that occasional non-Christian to trickle in. And yet, where does our light shine the brightest? In the dark. God’s love is extravagant, initiating, self-sacrificing. God’s love penetrated the darkness.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness cannot, does not, will not overcome it. So, carry your candle and run to the darkness.
Jennifer Slattery is a novelist, columnist and freelance writer living in the midwest with her husband of fifteen years and their thirteen year old daughter. You can find out more about her and her writing at htt://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.