...and they will not have the need of the light of a lamp
nor the light of the sun...
it's not like I have never driven in the dark before, but on the particular night it was late, I was tired, and we were nearing the end of a 12 hour drive. On top of that, it was winter and very cold. The fear of black ice or suicidal wildlife had me white knuckled.
Even though I had my brights on, the darkness was so intense that it just swallowed up whatever light my car could produce. To make matters worse, I couldn't see behind me beyond the warm glow of the dashboard. In fact, I had enough light to see a few feet in front of me. The only ray of hope I had in this moment was the faint glimmer of two red tail lights a mile or so ahead of me.
My eyes shifted from side to side and back to the middle of the road. If ever there was a time to live in the moment this was it. Of course I kept my focus on driving, but I'll admit my mind began to wander like the twist and turns of that old country road. I couldn't help but think God was telling me something. In fact, it was my focus on discovering that message that kept me from not having a complete panic attack.
The great theologian Henri Nouwen wrote, "We often want to be able to see into the future. We say, 'How will next year be for me?' 'Where will I be in five or ten years from now?' There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day."
It dawned on my that God was pointing me to where I needed to be, at the helm of a Ford Explorer. My family was the precious cargo that I had been entrusted to safely deliver to our home. I had just enough light to do just that.
But in that wild darkness I realized that what Christ did on the cross took care of the need to look behind me. And what his resurrection meant was that there was hope, red tail lights if you will, somewhere in the future. But it's here, in the now, that I was needed, and that we are all needed. For it's in the very present moment where most danger lurks, and temptations jump out at any given second.
Nouwen concludes, "The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk (or drive) through life with joy and be surprised at how far we can go."
Inside us all is a divine light that guides our steps, that illuminates our paths, and blinds the temptations from getting too close to us. Let us look inward to find that light, and rejoice in it without needing to worry about the great beam that will be cast over the world to take all the dark shadows away.
We should count it a blessing that we are not able to see completely in the now, the bright light that shine throughout eternity where "there will no longer be any night; and they will not have the need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever" (Rev. 22:5).