Darkness has a way of causing us to search for the light of Christ. A month ago I found myself in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’, haunted by its ever-present reality. So I attended a nearby church worship service where intercessory prayer was offered. My wife gave me a nudge and urged me to go forward. A very kind woman gently prayed for me in my darkness. It was a God-inspired moment for which I am most grateful. And eventually, by God’s grace, I found myself walking in the light of God’s love once more. 

God won’t leave us in the darkness and while it hurts miserably under that shadow, God will walk with us until we can again see. That is called HOPE. It’s the same hope Jesus had when he too endured times of darkness. 

There is a great verse at the beginning of John chapter one. Speaking of Christ, John writes that ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t put it out.’ 

I know others who have walked in the valley of the shadow of death but have held on to the next part of that verse in the 23rd Psalm. ‘I will fear no evil for you, my Lord, my Shepherd, are with me.’ 

This is the beginning of Lent, an appropriate time to remember our own weaknesses and walk with the one who knows our weaknesses.


Is it not possible that we as Christians are subject to the groaning of this world just as anyone else? While we may not fear evil, the ultimate loss of faith, we do need to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

There is, in all of this, a type of abandonment. Some feel abandoned by God whose oft-repeated promises seem to insulate believers from earthly trials. But the God we have come know and trust in Christ subjected himself to the worst the world would offer, to the point of crucifixion. The true sign of the faith is trusting the crucified Christ – the pioneer of our faith and our own journeys. Pioneers lead the way through the worst to discover the best. Even those travellers in long ago America had their share of fear, anxiety, and doubt but they knew to keep their eyes on their leader. (See Hebrews 12:2)

Sometimes even the firmest of believers have to experience what the ancient writer called the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ As we walk blindly through this, God extends his hand to guide us beyond the grave circumstances of earth’s bounds. It is only through this ‘dying’ that we truly encounter Christ. The disciples discovered that truth.

In 1939 amidst the Nazi rise to power, King George VI of England, gave a speech in which he quoted the poet Minnie Haskins, entitled “The Gate of the Year” (1908):

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied, ‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God – that shall be better than light and safer haven than a known way.’




John 1:4 -5 “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; and the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (MSG)

John 1:9 “The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light” (MSG)

I love this section of John 1. It is so full of hope for not just believers but for the whole world. Christ’s life is the contradiction of darkness. And darkness comes in so many forms touching so many lives. When we are confused we say, “I am in the dark”. When we despair we say, “These are dark times.”

What this passage is declaring is that the Messiah came to bring life into the light of every person. There is a spark of the divine in each one and with it comes the hope that we don’t have to be despondent.

When God created everything the Bible says that God saw light as good and brought it OUT of the darkness and God’s desire for all of us is to have the hope that light can bring. God shed God’s light on the darkness of the souls of the world when Christ entered in to us. With God’s work in our lives there is no way for darkness to overwhelm us. Maybe I should say that we all face dark times, even as believers, but in the midst of that darkness is the reality of the light of Christ. If we don’t FEEL it then my encouragement to all of us is to believe it, believe that God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of Light.

Look at what the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1:13. “God rescued us from the dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much…” (MSG)

We all have places of darkness in our lives. We can probably name them to ourselves right now. There are places of brokenness and hopelessness. Maybe times when we willingly walked into darkness. There are situations where our darkness prevents us from seeing tomorrow. But please know, and I am saying this to me as much as anyone, that Christ sees tomorrow, all of our tomorrows. His light dispels the darkness ahead. I believe that. So much in Scripture affirms that.

At the time of Christ people had run out of hope and those who sat in darkness were waiting for hope. Maybe you are or someone you love is. I know for sure that there are a lot of devastated people in the world who need a little light right now. If it’s you then receive these promises in the passages above.

And there are people who need whatever light we have received through our own understanding of Christ. They need hope. They need people to stand with them against the darkness. It may be through money, our prayers, our presence, and certainly our proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

In this New Year I am hopeful that more light will be seen, received and lived in this world that God loves so much.


True story. The scene: a day recently in public classroom of 1st graders. The assisting teacher is told not to speak of Christmas or Santa due to politically correctly guidelines. “Ok. Sad. But Ok,” She thinks. Her daughter is one of the first graders as is little 6-year-old Johnny.

One day Johnny is in a small group with six girls. He says, ‘wanna hear something?”

He counts down, ‘three, two, one,” and then blurts out “f_ _ _”. “Whoa,” thinks the assisting teacher. She speaks to the head teacher who cautions her to be careful about censuring Johnny for his language and repercussions it might have with the family.

So let’s let this straight. The teacher can’t say Christmas or Santa, but ‘f_ _ _’ is an acceptable politically correct sword.

Well, the assisting teacher did tell Johnny that while it might be acceptable to talk that way at home (and maybe not), in front of his classmates it is unacceptable. Period. I think next year the little girl will be going to private school.

BUT…the good news is that while folks may wonder what is happening in our world there are people like the assistant teacher who are a ‘light for the world’ as Jesus mentions we should be in the Sermon on the Mount.

While there is much that goes awry in our world there is much that is good. Now, a small group of us have taken to pray for Johnny (not his real name but God knows him and loves him.)

The world in many ways experiences a darkness of the mind. Thank God for a mom who brings some light into the darkness. Oh, that reminds me of a verse from Isaiah 1:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (speaking of the time when Christ would come into the world.)

May God in this season grant such light on ALL of us. And may the name of Jesus be introduced into Johnny’s life with even more strength and endurance than some of the other words he has learned. And may Johnny and all of us discover more deeply the love of Christ. Amen


John 1:5: The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (NASB)

I like this rather literal translation of John 1:5. It means that when Christ came into the world, as light, the darkness had no idea how to handle him.

If you have ever been in a bar you will notice that the lights are very dim. The thinking is that people enjoy pleasing themselves with alcohol in a place where it seems they are not so seem.

But the great think about Jesus is that he came to enlighten the world and let us see who we are even in our bad times and let us know that no matter who we are we are loved. The darkness doesn’t know what to do with that.

Darkness has sort of a life of its own; calling people to live for themselves.

When Jesus enters the world the darkness cringes because any amount of light dispels the darkness.

When I was young and afraid of the dark I always had to have a nightlight, just one little light on in the hallway somewhere letting me know I was safe. There is no darkness that can overcome a nightlight. When you light one little candle the darkness goes away. The darkness, if can talk to itself, says, ‘Now what do I do? I can’t make the light go away. I have to go away and look for a place where there is no light.’

But Jesus is the light of the world, the whole world and there is no place that darkness can overcome him. Oh, we can close the door, run away from the light but it will always be there and sooner or later the light will find a way into the darkness and the darkness will once again say, ‘Darn, now where do I go?’

The scripture says that Jesus is the light that enlightens every person. That’s good news because it means that in every corner of this world the light of Christ shines and people will see it and run to it knowing that in the light they are much safer than in the dark. And even our sins that will be discovered in the light will be forgiven by Christ.

On this night there are many candlelight services demonstrating how little lights dispel the darkness. Tonight we celebrate the death of darkness even as we celebrate the birth of Christ and the light. Run to the light. He is our only hope.

And don’t worry. No matter how dark your or my situation or that of the world, once we receive the light, the darkness will once again be stumped, hang its head and disappear.




Let’s be clear. This world does not belong to Satan, the devil or any other powers and principalities. We may be fighting against their miserable terrorism (Ephesians 6) and they might be called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2) and even ‘prince of the world’ (John 14) but make no mistake his princely crown is paper and the lie of his lips is that the world somehow belongs to him (Matthew 4- the temptation of Jesus.)

But King Jesus is the ruler of all empires of this world. In fact it’s why his disciples and Paul often got into trouble because they claimed there was another King, Jesus, and the Romans didn’t take kindly to such a proclamation. (Acts 17)

And the disciple John made it clear that greater is the Christ in you and me than any power in this world. (1John4)

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem to his own death he was coming on a donkey as a King, the King of the world, the universe, King to dethrone any powers that might think to be somehow rulers of this creation. He was taking his rightful place as King.

He tells his disciples in John 16 that though they will have tribulation in the world they don’t have to be afraid because he has overcome the world. And through faith in this same Christ we are the ‘overcomers’ with him. His faith given to us is our assurance of victory.

So when the day does not go well for you or the forces of darkness are surrounding your life you simply tell them in the most biblical sense, ‘go to hell’. ‘Be gone.’ We serve a risen King, a powerful Emperor, a sovereign God and nothing will separate us from his love. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No other ruler can make that claim or keep that promise.

And if you feel as if you life is falling apart at the moment you remember that just when the whole world seemed as though it was falling, at the crucifixion, God was doing his mightiest act of salvation and good for his own glory and to make sure that you and know that no matter what is going on we are his children.

So let’s take this day and celebrate what it means to be a child of God with joy and happiness.

And since mothers’ and fathers’ day is coming let’s rejoice that God who acts the most loving of both cradles us in his arms. You tell the devil that, or anybody who thinks to mess with you this or any other day. Amen.