During a field training exercise while in the Army, I went on a night patrol with a platoon of soldiers. There was a new moon that night, so we definitely had the cover of darkness on our side. As the chaplain, I was only going as an observer so I stayed in the rear as we moved through the woods. It was absolutely dark and the only thing that kept us together as we moved through the darkness were the two, tiny luminous patches that were on the back of our helmets. These patches are called “cat eyes” with a very faint glow, and can only be seen when you are within about ten feet of the person in front of you.
Suddenly, the “cat eyes” in front of me disappeared. The next few steps in the darkness were on sheer faith, for I could see absolutely nothing. I kept walking, straining my eyes as I peered into the darkness, searching for those tiny patches. In the next step I discovered why the “cat eyes” had vanished. I tumbled down a steep embankment and joined the pile of soldiers at the base. I learned two important things: first, it is dangerous to walk in the darkness and second, night vision goggles are a great invention.
We are not nocturnal creatures who can function in the darkness, and that is even truer on the spiritual plane. Those who follow Jesus will never walk in darkness, for we have “the light of life.” We who follow have the “light of life himself,” Jesus Christ our Lord. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus our light is with us even in the darkest nights of our souls. He is with us even when we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Whatever your darkest night or day has been, Jesus stood with you in that darkness. Some are in the midst of divorce, preparing to bury a loved one, facing a terminal illness or picking up the pieces following a natural disaster. No matter what darkness attempts to enshroud you, the light of Jesus Christ is there. His light is rolling back the darkness in our lives and in the world.
There are times when in the midst of crisis it is difficult to see the light of Christ, and we do feel abandoned and forsaken. But when we look back on these events, after we have passed through the crucible, we see that Jesus was there with us. There are other times when we have stumbled about in the darkness, and have become very much aware of his presence and his light. However, we will never be in the darkness in which we walked before we met Jesus. We are not children of the darkness anymore. We follow the one who said, “I am the light of the world.”
To some it seems contradictory that in Matthew 5:14 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Who is the light, Jesus or us? It isn’t contradictory at all, because we are the light only because we reflect his light. As disciples of Jesus, we are filled with his presence by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we shine in the darkness for others. We all know the value of light in the darkness. Unless you are wearing your Pollyanna glasses all the time, you are also aware of the countless number of people who are stumbling about as they walk in the darkness without the “one true light.” Would you withhold the light of a flashlight while walking with a friend in the dark? No, of course you would share that light. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” You are the “cat eyes” of the world.