Saturday, December 3, 2016

Light of the World

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness instead of light because
their deeds were evil.

-- John 3:19

Grade-schoolers from previous generations knew Christopher Columbus as the adventurer who "sailed the ocean blue and discovered America in 1492." Although that's inaccurate history, Columbus was indeed one of the earliest and most important European explorers of what became known as the New World. And rather than making just one transatlantic voyage, he actually completed four.   

That final trip nearly cost Columbus and Lighthousehis crew their lives. In February 1504 they landed in Jamaica--but they soon encountered hostile natives. Even if Columbus could talk his way out of a fight, the expedition also lacked sufficient food and supplies. The situation was gloomy. What the brave explorers needed was a light at the end of the tunnel.

That light turned out to be more than a figure of speech. While studying his almanac Columbus discovered that a total lunar eclipse would occur in the next three days. The Italian navigator then told the natives that his God was angry because they had stopped giving supplies to his crew. Columbus warned them that unless the shipments resumed, God would reveal his displeasure by swallowing up the moon.

It's likely that the Indians laughed at Columbus' threat. But sure enough--just as the almanac predicted--the full moon appeared, but without its lower edge! As the minutes passed and the sky grew dark, the moon took on a startling, blood-red appearance. The spectacle terrified the natives, who begged Columbus to intercede with God on their behalf. Columbus agreed to try, and he returned to his ship to "speak" with The Almighty. This conference, however, was actually a ruse to gain time for tracking the eclipse's progress. At just the right moment, Columbus informed the natives that they had been forgiven and that the moon would be restored.

You can guess the rest. The full moon soon began to shine its bright light on the balmy Caribbean island. Filled with gratitude for escaping their supposed demise, the natives ran to bring provisions to Columbus and his crew. The crafty European explorers were saved. And within a few months, they departed for home.

When we fast-forward to the 21st Century, it's easy for us to judge the natives for their reaction to the eclipse. But are we really so different today? Everyone--even the most devoted Christ-follower--exhibits episodes of spiritual darkness from time to time. For example, how often do we utter cutting words toward our spouse and children, cut off other drivers on the roadway or maybe even fudge a bit on our taxes? The point is that we all fall short of God's perfect standards. And that's why we must always let the Light into our lives to drive out those things that should never see the light of day!

That Light is Jesus Christ. He invites you and me to follow him on our faith-journey toward his Kingdom--and all the while reflecting his radiance on those who still live in darkness:

"I chose you to bring justice, and I am here at your side," the Savior explains through the Book of Isaiah. "I selected and sent you to bring light and my promise of hope to the nations." 

Are you ready to help light the way?

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