What a beautiful night! It's almost cool out, and the trails in the woods are freshly groomed. Not a leaf is quivering and there's a bright full moon. I slipped on my flip-flops because I can walk more quietly in them than my everyday shoes. I open the door, look around, and breathe a sigh of relief since the cats aren't hanging out on the porch. They won't be tagging along tonight.
Past the shed is like stepping into another world on nights like this. The shed blocks all the artificial light the trees miss and, for some reason, the moonlight seems to intensify to almost-daylight. Everything is bathed in a pale bluish light like an early '60s western movie where they tried to simulate night. It's almost surreal.
Deeper into the woods, artificial sounds fade to the background until they're un-noticed, unless one tries to hear them. It's as natural as can be out here. Leaves rustle as a mouse scampers along. Animal calls from crickets and frogs to raccoons, whip-poor-wills and critters I've got no clue about become almost deafening. It is almost unbelievably peaceful! I take a deep breath and thank God for blessing me with such beauty. Nights like this are fairly frequent, yet uncommon enough to always be a treat. Such nights also inspire spiritual thoughts other than thankfulness.
On the way back to the house, my eyes wince as the neighbor's dusk to dawn light pierces the brush on the house-side of the shed. I hold my hand up to shield my eyes, and squint through the light as my eyes adjust. I often ponder the analogy of living in darkness without Jesus and my adjusting to walking the trails in the woods comfortably on moonlit nights without any flashlights or lanterns.
Stepping from the Light can look quite attractive and often feels good and even right. As we adjust to the lack of light and different sounds and appearance of things, we can almost forget about the light and divine guidance. Then I hear the call back to the light. It might be my watch telling me it's time to go back. It might be my cell phone or the dogs might start barking and I feel like I need to check it out. The call to the light could take many forms, but the call needs to be answered.
The call is heard and answered. We head back to the light. Sometimes the light hurts our eyes and we turn away from it. Sometimes we know we must do it and head right into it until we adjust and things get clear. Some people, however, feel that pain of the brightness and back into the shadows. The Light often provokes discomfort. Jesus knows we live in a dark world, and can see it all around us. He wants to be that lamp unto our feet. A lamp for our feet doesn't dispel all darkness, but it clears a big enough path that we can find our way without stumbling –unless we look away, or ignore His Light.
Imagine all those varying states of Light and dark in which people can live. Some people live in the Light and love it. Some live in the Light but enjoy slipping into the shadows from time to time (Do you have that hidden sin you don't want to give up?). Others prefer to live in the shadows and only slip into the light periodically (Sunday-only Christians). Some live in Shadowland, but only step into the light when they feel like they must (C&E (Christmas and Easter) Christians). Too many think they're living in the light, but actually live in a shadow where the Light is obscured by false doctrine (Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Universalists, etc.). Some live in the shadows and know of the Light's existence only from seeing it reflected into their world. Some live in the dark and avoid any form of Light. We're all in one of these places. Where are you?
And one thing to remember: Think of when people shine a flashlight directly into your eyes. Isn't that irritating! Don't misuse your Light when talking to unbelievers.
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Paul, this was lovely. Thank you. I felt as though I was strolling along with you in the cool of the night. I liked the analogy at the end as well--particularly about not shining our light so that it becomes irritating. Very good point. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator and Editor, FaithWriters' Magazine)