Spirituality for Today – August 2009 – Volume 14, Issue 1

Let There Be Light

By Janice Alonso

I am a person who likes order. I rise at six, read a devotion, spend quiet time with God, and then mentally sketch out the day as I walk my Labrador. By nine, when I feel I'm at my most creative for writing, I'm usually settled in at the computer. I don't walk before the sun rises. So when we spring forward to Daylight Savings Time, moving the extra hour of darkness to the morning, for a few weeks my time line is shifted an hour forward as well. For someone who treasures her routine, this temporary, minor adjustment is a major inconvenience; however, the inconvenience is only in my perception and major only by my measuring stick. Over time I've resigned myself to this being a situation I'd just have to learn to deal with. This past March I decided to take a different approach. I reluctantly gave up my routine and let the morning evolve on its own. The result was, well... enlightening: I found myself using this extra hour to research how the Bible speaks of light and darkness. I didn't have to read far.

And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning the first day.

Genesis 1:35 (NIV)

On a first reading, I felt I hadn't learned anything new. I was introduced to the story of God's Creation of Heaven and Earth in my preschool classes in Sunday school. The concept is a simple one: God separated the light from the darkness and called it good. What it didn't say, but I have translated to mean, is that darkness is bad. It can be, and it is often referred to in that way in the Bible, many works of literature, and by society in general. The above scripture states that God called darkness "night."

For many, night is an anticipated part of the day. We wind down from our work demands, enjoy family fellowship, relax in a favorite pastime, and sleep. Taken in this view darkness becomes a good thing: it is a refuge where we can restore our tired bodies, soothe our frayed emotions, and unburden our overloaded minds. As much as I enjoy rising early and getting a head start on the day, I'm just as eager to let go at its close and indulge in activities I don't normally do during the day. In the day, I write; at night I read. In the day, I clean house and run errands; at night I do needlework, crossword puzzles, and watch television. In the day, I exercise; at night I curl up on the sofa in the den with my husband and my Labrador. For me, darkness is a time of peace and, in a way, a reward for a productive day. Was this the message I was to take away from my extra hour? Somehow, I thought there was more. I kept reading.

I explored deeper and came up with a notebook paper filled with verses, but three hovered close to my heart.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12 (NIV)

As Christians there is no disagreement among us that Jesus brought light into the world, beginning with the illumination from the Star of Bethlehem announcing this wonderful news. God always was, always is, and always will be... but humans lived in a shadowy existence before Jesus' birth. We literally walked in darkness. It was His son's light that made it possible for mankind to see and commune with the Heavenly Father.

In my daily extra hour, I reread several of my writings. Most are devotions about God: trusting God, obeying God, praising God... all good ways to honor Him. What I discovered was, I didn't always mention Jesus, and that is what separates us from other people: we are called Christians for a reason. Yet, in my Christian writing, I often failed to remind the reader of this.

For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

The reason this verse touched me was because I've always described my pieces as writings from the heart. Had I only been writing part of the good news? I've told story after story about God's greatness, but in many I had not finished the telling: it is through the light of Jesus Christ that we are saved. I had become so absorbed in the telling that I had left out the meaning and its impact in the devotion. If I had been writing a work of fiction, I would have been leaving out the message of the story. Imagine the Wizard of Oz without Dorothy learning "there's no place like home."

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

John 1:5 (NIV)

This last verse spoke directly to me. The extra hour of darkness on those early spring mornings did not thieve away anything from me. They were instead a time given over to reflect on what Christ's birth means to the world, to Christians, and specifically what it means, or should mean, in my life and in my writing. How much light began to shine through that darkness. God is always with me, but more important, my relationship to Him lies in my faith that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

Time has shifted so that I no longer have that hour of darkness, and instead of looking at those weeks as an inconvenience which served as a barricade to my writing, I now see them as a gift which nourished and fed my spirit and energy... much like my initial observation: darkness can be a good thing. Too often though, the purpose of my writing is shrouded in darkness. I must always remember that the work I create is not the end product. The ultimate purpose of that creation is for the glorification of God, and that glorification of God is reflected in the face of Jesus Christ.