“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” ―Genesis 1:1-2
The Word of God overcame the darkness that covered the earth at the time of creation. Sin plunged the world back into another kind of darkness. The eternal Word became flesh. This Word brought into being a new creation, in which God says once more, “Let there be Light!” The advent, or arrival of Christ into the world, changed everything. Christ is the Light of the world; so much so, that we can either say: “Let there be light!” or we can say, “Let there be Christ!” The effects of both are dramatic, to say the least. Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Or, perhaps you’re still afraid of the dark? Why? Part of it is the fear of the unknown (ignorance); part of it is our imagination (the bogeyman). Darkness makes us feel vulnerable because in the darkness we are vulnerable.
Evil, by-and-large, is nocturnal. Having worked as a police chaplain, I know that the hours between 10 pm and 3 am are the worst―there’s a whole other world out there. Have you ever tried to walk in the dark? I do it frequently because of having to get up during the night. When I do, I walk in the dark, I don’t run. I don’t even walk confidently. I’m usually feeling around with my hands and arms trying to identify objects that are where I know they should be. Even when you do know what the basic layout of the house is and where the furniture is located, walking in the dark is, at best, difficult. It’s so much easier to just turn on the light and walk in confidence. Once, in a dark hotel room, I tried to make my way from the bed to the bathroom. I stumbled over a suitcase and hit my head on cabinet and still have the scar to prove it.
Picture yourself, however, in unfamiliar territory and with no light whatsoever. Perhaps you’ve visited one of those underground caverns as we did. At some point the guide turns out all the lights and the utter darkness is overwhelming. Why would someone want to walk in darkness? Physically, it just doesn’t make any sense unless you’re forced into it. Spiritually, however, many desire it on a regular basis. In Ecclesiastes 2:14 we read, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness….” Jesus said: “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.” (John 12:35). The metaphor is so appropriate. We know how difficult it is to walk in the dark. We know how pleasant it is to walk in the light. We know there’s a sharp difference between darkness and light! Advent changes everything. Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” And John had already said of Jesus that He “was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” I read of a true story that the Naval institute published that illustrates this point:
While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noted a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course with the other vessel. The captain instructed, “Signal the ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.”
The return signal countered, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.”
The captain signaled, “I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.”
The response was, “I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change course 20 degrees.”
By this time the captain was furious. His signal curtly ordered, “I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees.”
The reply: “I’m a lighthouse. You make the call.”