The Christmas Eve service at our church ended with each of us holding a lit candle — a tradition many of you likely experienced as well. But right before the flames started making their way down the rows, the ushers turned off every single light in the auditorium and let us sit in darkness. They wanted our eyes to be adjusted to the dark so that the brilliance of the candle would be even greater.
The pastor mentioned to all of us that it might be somewhat of an eerie feeling, knowing that we were sitting with 300 other individuals whom we couldn’t actually see. But my first instinct when they shut off the lights wasn’t what I expected.
It was actually comfort.
I love being around people, but I’m a natural introvert, so feeling some “distance” due to the lack of light was strangely comfortable. No one could see me — I didn’t have to worry about what they thought when they saw me.
Is there an analogy there when it comes to our spiritual journey?
I remember growing up and hearing in many places that the Christian walk was a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we choose Christ?
Well the reality is, walking with Him is very hard and many times, painfully uncomfortable. He places His light on us, and we’re exposed for all we are and all we aren’t. And that’s terrifying.
There are times in life where it feels much easier to retreat back into the world’s darkness. Realizing who we are as humans can make us wonder if we should just give up and live the life we seemingly can’t stay away from.
Sometimes we’re so adjusted to the dark that the light of Christ hurts too much. To illustrate that point, Mumford & Sons in their song “Winter Winds” have this line: The shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved. Sometimes our inability to accept God’s forgiveness and our inability to forgive ourselves drives us into despair.
This may be a strange story with which to close, but I read a book recently which pointed out the strength that Mary and Mary Magdelene showed at the empty tomb. When the angel of the Lord appeared in brilliant radiance, they were afraid. The power of the light caused fear. But they overcame that fear and went to share what they had seen — and not seen — with everyone. They could have remained shaken and retreated back in fear. Instead, they let the light inform and empower them.
To see ourselves in God’s light is not easy. We can’t expect it to be comfortable. But don’t let it intimidate. Let it inspire and inform. That’s when real life happens. For as Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”