Out of darkness

Have you ever been in the dark before?

A few days ago, I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, so I launched out of bed in the pitch black. As I took a sharp right at the end of the bed — “ka-wham!”— I kicked an end table that we had relocated out of the living room to make room for the Christmas tree. I kicked it so hard I could have made a 50-yard field goal. OUCH!

To add insult to injury, the obstruction knocked me off balance and I wound up bumping into the door frame of the bathroom — with my head. Wile E. Coyote has nothing on me!    

It is amazing what can happen when someone turns on the light. You can actually see what is going on. You have a reference point. You may have been fumbling around early one morning trying to find your wallet and your roommate obliged you by turning on the light. You may be a mechanic or a health care worker who needs light to help diagnose problems. If you have ever gone rustic camping, you know how important a lantern is to night life in the woods.

Sometimes, we can be in the dark about Christmas. We often hear it is the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, that is not the case. It can be the most depressing time of the year, the most frustrating time of the year, or maybe even the most exhausting time of the year for some. Loneliness may bring about depression, unmet expectations may bring about frustrated feelings, and exhaustion may come from enduring another long season with no meaning behind it.

There are many decorative lights at this time of year, but when the true light of Christmas shines through, it changes everything. In Isaiah 9:2, a foretelling prophecy of the light of Christmas is given: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” In the nativity story in Matthew 1:21, this embryonic theme is expanded when Joseph is commanded by the angel, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The Christmas light — Jesus — reveals reality.

When Jesus came into the world, he was turning on a light for us. Consider these foundations of reality that are revealed through Jesus’ coming:

1. There is a God and he cares enough to act. The name Jesus simply means “the Lord saves.” Think of baby Jesus as a care package, sent to those that God cares about. God is concerned about you and your plight.

2. People are in need of “saving.” The word saving (salvation) is used many times in the Bible and simply means deliverance. Humans have a need to be delivered. We cannot do it on our own. Sin is the cause. Sin is rebellion, acts of violence or resistance to an establish authority. Because of sin, a relational barrier with God must be overcome.

3. The good news is that salvation or deliverance is possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus came as a baby, lived a perfect life and offered himself in our place as a substitute to atone for the debt that our sins brought about. Jesus is our relational bridge to God.

What happens when we leave the darkness behind and step into the light? Sometimes, we do not like what we see when the light is turned on, especially when dirt and filth are involved. The light of Christmas gives insight into the dynamics of the world we live in and why there is so much that is wrong with it. This light provides each of us an opportunity to face an accurate understanding of self and our greatest need. The light of Jesus informs our understanding of God, who he is, and his intentions.
Maybe all this is making sense to you for the first time. If so, you may be ready to step into the light. I encourage you to do so.

Express to God through a simple conversation (prayer) that you accept reality as he has revealed it through Jesus. This is a great starting point. But stepping into the light is more than just a one-time prayer. It involves a regular process of exposing our lives to God’s truth and living out what he reveals.

Imagine what would happen in your life if you stepped into the light of Jesus. You would experience a breakthrough that would change your life for the better, and knowing the true light of Christmas would give this holiday a new, deeper meaning.

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church. There will be  Genesis Christmas Eve Gatherings at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey. For more information, call (231) 487-0081.

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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