In this month’s newsletter, I am reflecting on what it means to be in this “season of light.” Here in the UK, as we approach the shortest day, it can seem that those precious few hours of daylight are gone in a whisper. And so, our need for light can feel ever more necessary.
Yet, I must admit that these dark nights can also lend themselves to making this time of year even more magical. Christmas lights can seem more sparkly, and stars can appear ever brighter, encouraging us to look up in wonder.
Walking through London this week, I came across this church and couldn’t help marveling at how glorious it looked set against the inky black night sky.
But I am ever mindful that this time of year can be difficult for many, and as families gather over this holiday season, it can be a time fraught with tension and sadness, where lights (however bright) feel dim at best. The late Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness”. My hope as you read this short devotion is that whatever circumstances you might find yourself in, however dark life may seem, you realize anew there is a light for the journey and his name is Jesus!
Sharing the Journey
A Devotional By Kate Smith
“The people who walked in darkness will see a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." — Isaiah 9:2
I have always been slightly afraid of the dark, that often irrational thought that as the light fades, I somehow need to get home, quickly rushing to draw all the curtains and switch on the lights. Somehow it seems, somewhere along the line, I have learned that darkness is dangerous, and however much I try to rationalize this fear, I can still find myself breathing a sigh of relief when I find that light switch!
And yet I wonder if you, like me, would be surprised to know that darkness can be good for us! According to Dr. David Crawford of the International Dark-Sky Association, darkness can be vital for our health and well-being, helping us to rest more deeply and thus enabling us to live more fully. It seems that there is more to darkness than our fears would have us believe, especially when we consider how, without darkness, we would not be able to see the stars or any dawning light!
“The people who walked in darkness will see a great light.”
I am reminded of a Christmas Eve a few years ago when, as part of an Advent devotional, I was encouraged to take myself outside as dusk was approaching to “watch and wait” for the night sky to appear. And so, donning blankets and carrying a thermos flask of tea, I ventured out to face the night and wait.
It's funny how quickly we can miss our creature comforts. I soon became cold and found myself willing the time to go quickly. But it didn’t, because this, I was to learn, was something that needed time.
Time enabled my eyes to adjust to the failing light, and as darkness fell, time enabled my senses to be more attuned. And as I accepted the discomfort of being exposed to the elements, so time turned an anxious wait into an excited expectation that something wonderful was about to happen.
I have often been curious that God seems to do His best work in the darkness! It was in darkness that God began creating (Genesis 1: 1–5), and this truth remains, as we see how seeds need to be planted in the privacy of darkness for life to emerge. God also promises in Isaiah 45:3 that we will be given “treasures in the darkness” and as I saw my first star, Venus, heralding in Christmas Day, a visceral thrill of unexpected childlike wonder filled me anew – the darkness had enabled the glory of God to be seen.
“On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
I am aware on this journey that many of us can find ourselves at some point in a “closet,” and such closet living can feel dark and lacking hope. Often when our child first comes out to us, the fears are such that we run and hide. Although it is not good to linger in the darkness (of the closet) for too long, it can be a place where, if we are willing, we find healing and hope.
My closet experience was one of the darkest experiences I have ever known, so much so, that I became physically unwell. And yet, as I reflect on that time, however painful, I can see how the Lord was beginning to change me. I experienced such tender moments when the Lord drew me close like never before.
It was also in that dark closet that I was able to “see” more clearly and was given pictures and visions of a future that brought me comfort and hope, confirming the promises woven into Micah 7:8 (ESVUK) “when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5
Venus is also known as the bright morning star, the name Jesus also gives to himself in Revelation 22:16. On that Christmas Eve as I sat watching and waiting, I couldn’t help wondering if this is how the kings and shepherds felt as they saw stars and heard angels and then at last laid eyes on the infant Jesus—Emmanuel, God with us—the ultimate treasure that had come to banish the darkness with His glorious light!
As we anticipate celebrating your birth this Christmas time, I pray that your healing light may bring hope for those who may find themselves walking in dark places. Where there is weariness, I pray many will find joy, and for those who are experiencing despair and fear, that thrills of hope may meet them in unexpected ways and in unexpected places.
Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas
Embracing the Journey Newsletter Editor
Greeting From Greg & Lynn
Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a joyous New Year! May this holy season find your home filled with warmth, love, joy, and peace. Warmest wishes from us to you.