“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.” Isaiah 9:2
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness for the peoples, but the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you. ” Isaiah 60:1-2
“Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12
I haven’t written in a while, and I’m struggling with what words I have to offer an opinion-saturated world. This morning, while reading the words above, I was confronted with how the Light of Jesus pushed back the darkness and the stark contrast between this Christmas season and the last, where I felt like I was wandering helplessly in darkness.
I feel like there is always a space to push back the darkness of fear and anxiety with the Light of truth, but it’s a vulnerable place to enter into. Especially because I don’t feel like I won the struggle, and that is humbling and humiliating for this prideful soul to admit. Jesus won, Jesus brought light into that dark night of the soul, but I shut him out for a long while in the process because fear whispered that if I let Him in, things would only get worse. But I tried to fight through on my own and I found depression to be my closest friend. Nights of insomnia and days where I fell asleep after 2 cups of coffee because I was so scared of the darkness that I could only sleep in the light. My “ministry” was nonexistent because I could barely pull myself out of bed and the joy in my heart dimmed to flicker that I couldn’t find on even the best days. Sadness wrapped me close and despair clung to my skirt hem, and I felt that there was a glass ceiling between me and God and I couldn’t break it no matter how hard I tried. But God gives sweet grace upon grace. In the midst of my mess He brought me to a place of safety and opened the door for healing and I found answers to the questions in my heart and saw a glimmer of hope where before there had been none. God gave me rest and wrapped me in the abundance of HIs loving embrace and I went to counseling and had wise people surrounding me, pointing me ever back to truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it. I stopped running from faith and tried to figure out what it means to me and how it learns to glow and be shaped when placed in the fire. Jesus met me there. He had been waiting for me to let him in and the glass ceiling shattered. I could sleep again, I could see glimmers of light in the dark situations, and fear finally shut up long enough for me to hear the voice of my Shepherd, leading me Home.
And I am in awe of my Savior. He could have come in might and power with a loud roaring voice, forcing me to shut up and recognize his holiness. But he led me gently, again and again putting truth before me, even when I ran away from Him. When I sought Him but refused to listen, he didn’t leave me. He stayed close so I would know I was so loved, if only I would seek his eyes in the chaos and read the mercy and steadfast love there. And when I refused to look because I was scared and I couldn’t take the oppressive darkness and I crumbled under the weight of expectations, he took me out of the fear-riddled land and put me in a place of abundance. He took me from the wilds of Karamoja where my team was falling apart, to the safe haven of Alongside where I learned how to trust again.
And this Christmas I see light all around me, such a contrast to the darkness of last year. All I can do is kneel in awe and wonder at the way our Jesus can redeem. Without him, I am nothing, I have nothing. But he has forgiven me time and again and given me every good gift. In him, I have found abundance. Abundant grace and love and joy and truth to fight back the lies that the darkness still tries to whisper. My faith has been tested in the fire and emerged stronger because of His hand of grace in me. This is a story I want to shout from the rooftops because truly Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. He has been with me every step of this journey and I would be lost and wandering alone in darkness apart from his grace upon grace. What a story. This babe that came to earth in the form of a human, so he might know our pain and carry our sorrows and cover our innumerable sins. This man who was fully God who lived and died and rose again so I might truly live. This God, who is coming back for us all who have faith in Him, a second coming that will reveal his holiness to the whole world. That’s what I’m watching with wide-eyed wonder this Christmas: the powerful works of a Holy Savior who loves us too much to let us stumble alone through the messes we make for ourselves.