My wife and I recently had a student recount to us a literal life or death moment that she experienced in the midst of a difficult season. We serve in a local ministry to precious men and women who like all of us are dealing with sin; but for them, the issues have reached the point of threatening their ability to be able to provide a safe, loving environment for their children. This young mom was facing the common difficulties of life, like overdue bills, medical issues, busy schedules, and responsibilities. But this was coupled with the struggle to overcome the powerful effects of addiction as she strives to stay with the child that she so desperately loves. And in a moment of weakness, with all of the stress of life seeming to pile up – the thought came: Just end this. End the struggle. This battle is too much. You are not going to make it. But she shared with us that as the thought of destruction was raging in her mind, another more powerful thought entered. She heard the words of a verse that we had read together in our class just a few days earlier: Genesis 1:27 ‘God created man in his own image’. For this young mother – that scripture was just as the Psalmist described: ‘a light to my path’. The darkness told her that giving up was the answer. Yet the light had broken through to give her hope. And as she looked at us crying, she said with determination, ‘I am made in the image of God, and I know I have a purpose. I am going to keep going’.
The language of light and darkness is a theme that is found throughout the bible; the description of a battle that has been raging long before any of us were born. The bible describes God, as the ‘Father of lights’ (James 1:17) from whom every good and perfect gift comes. And in darkness is the enemy of God that has opposed Him from before the creation of the world- ‘the thief’ who comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 3:19). And I would submit that all of us have found ourselves in the midst of this battle and many of us carry scars from it. The fight rages for us and for those we love. The battleground being thoughts, affections, and allegiance. Everyone faces choices of darkness and light– clashes between deception or integrity, hatred or reconciliation, lust or faithfulness, idolatry or sacrifice. Those conflicts are continual; the outcome of each one is not of little consequence. Because even if the choice seems insignificant at the time, the aim of darkness is to entice us toward that which will bring chaos and destruction. And in this war our hope is not in ourselves, but in God the Father who has sent His light physically and spiritually into the world. He has sent the greatest gift, Jesus Christ, who came to ‘shine on those living in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace’ (Luke 1:79).
In Christ alone is found freedom from the thief’s power. Our safe haven in this conflict, is to abide with Jesus. Our first and most pressing priority is our relationship with Him. We are all hard-pressed daily with life and responsibilities, but we cannot let good things become the enemy of the best thing. We must press into Jesus and listen for his guidance. Through Christ, in the smallest of thoughts or the gravest of actions we can choose light and the peace that comes with it.
And by His grace we can help others who have been wounded in this battle, by ‘sowing seeds’ of light into people’s lives (Psalm 97:11). If you have ever had a garden, you know that even the smallest of seeds planted at the right time, and with the right nutrients can yield a healthy and bountiful crop. As a parent, there is no greater distress than being separated from your child. And so I rejoice in the many men and women who are giving their resources to family ministries. Workers who are sowing seeds of light in parents and children surrounded by darkness, praying for a harvest of salvation, reconciliation and healing. And opportunities like this are all around us if we look. Perhaps it is giving of ourselves through service; opening our hearts to the potential of bringing light to darkness in a new and challenging way. Or perhaps it is as simple as giving an encouraging word to the grocery store clerk who appears to be having a hard day as they scan our items. In this great cosmic battle, even the smallest of actions can be used by our Father – the Father of light – to yield life in others.