Walking through the woods at night

“Ohh… no, no, no, no, no, no, no....” I hit it against my hand several times.

“What?”

My husband came closer. He hit it against his hand too. But to no avail. The truth could not be denied: the flashlight batteries were dying.

We walked faster, taking note of trees and turns as we meandered our way through the woods. Hoping we would make it to our campsite before the batteries died completely. Earlier in the day, we had gotten to the site by crossing a small stream. But we had to move our car for the night, and now, were stuck walking through the woods.

We had never taken this path before. We did not know the way. It was dark. And now our flashlight was dying. Oh, and, by the way, I was pregnant.

Anxiety ripped through my body. It manifested in anger. (Why didn’t my husband think to check the batteries before this trip?) It manifested in frustration. (Why didn’t I think to check the batteries?) But really, it all boiled down to fear.

I didn’t want to get lost in the dark woods.

I cried and prayed and walked and worried and wrung my hands and tripped and got back up and walked some more. When we finally got to the campsite, I crumpled in exhaustion and relief.

There’s nothing like darkness to remind you of the necessity of light.

The Israelites were familiar with wandering. Though, their wandering took place in a desert not a forest. The desert would have been a scary place at night. Except for them, it wasn’t. For they had the presence of God with them. Not just the abstract I-know-God-is-here-because-He-is-everywhere sense. But in the literal way in which He manifest His presence for their sake.

After the Israelites built the Tabernacle, their place of worship, God’s presence came down as a cloud that stayed above it. During the night, that cloud looked like fire. God literally gave them light in the darkness.

And so, many years later, the Israelites celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles as a commemoration of the way God led them through that time. During the feast, they would light large torches in the Temple courts. These torches would keep the Temple bright through the night. People would sing and dance and light their own torches in celebration.

It is during the Feast of the Tabernacles that Jesus stands up and tells the crowd,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

A new time had come. A time when God’s light would once again be tangible. This time, in the person of Jesus Christ. What a promise Jesus makes to them, and to us. Light, always with us. Always.

We don’t have to stumble around on a dark path anymore.

When I think of darkness, I think of shame and hiding. Not wanting to get caught. Not wanting our secrets to be exposed. Jesus says we do not have to be ashamed. He came to bring light to our dark places. He already knows about them and it has not changed His love for us. He wants to bring them to light for our sake. For the healing, restoration, and transformation His grace can bring.

When I think of darkness, I also think of fear and anxiety. Worrying about what path to take. Not wanting to fail or go the wrong direction. Not wanting to be attacked by something hiding in the bushes. Jesus says we do not have to fear. He is our light. We are not alone as we face those dark unknowns. He wants to guide and reassure and push us along when we freeze. He is there to hold our hand and the flashlight.

This is not a promise that with Jesus, life is perfect. But it is a promise that with Jesus, life is different.

We have the light of life.

This is what Jesus saying “I am the light of the world” reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one in the Reveal series, What do we really want?