"It was the best of times; the worst of times..." as Charles Dickens ushers in his "Tale of Two Cities;" resonating with as much impact today as when it hit the streets in 1859.
The “worst of times.”
Never far away…
Press a button;
Flick a remote;
Click on a mouse…
They may erupt from the next conversation, or the next outburst.
The worst of times: a deceitful darkness that’s home-delivered; or hard-wired into our homes, our work or study scene. Or all over town if everyone stays tuned to feed or to feed from the rigid attitudes that radio shock jocks love to highlight from among their callers…
People should be more religious! But is that the answer?
Tossing religion into this darkness mostly results in self-righteous extremism: in the red corner we have the reptilian violence of terrorism, while in the white corner a smorgasbord lies in wait; suspicious sects or preachers who almost lust for the eternal doom of those they write off as wicked.
Maybe they mean well underneath it all. Are they being selectively portrayed by a sensationalist or cynical media? Yet the moment they publicly declare any sense of pride or achievement in making innocent people suffer, it stops being a case of good people having bad days or bad press. They are denying the very nature of the God they strive to defend.
Have they ever considered that if God as great as they say he is, does he really need that level of protection? Can religion distort us so much that we may eagerly die for our faith, yet just as eagerly kill for our doctrines?
Yet “the best of times” are also right with us; closer than a heartbeat - only an honest prayer away - wherever we are. And it’s worth knowing that God designed praying to be so easy we even can do it with our eyes shut!
Let’s focus on God for a moment: a God who needs no religion but who deeply desires our relationship. This God has a resurrection on his CV - the ultimate burst of all-conquering light bursting out from within all-enveloping darkness!
John the Apostle, despite his dark loneliness of being exiled off the western coast of Turkey, was held and released by this truth. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” he declared in John 1:5. As he introduced his gospel, he expressed some of most cosmic scriptural insights in such basic language that this chapter has become every prospective pastor’s introduction to New Testament Greek.
Only God’s mind can encompass such scope with such simplicity.
As we open our hearts and minds to the light of God’s presence and power, we start seeing clearly enough to pick our way and to keep living above pious but doom-laden despair. He also helps us to keep our feet on the ground, so we also avoid the imbalance of constantly claiming life to be one long dessert that’s loaded with micro-wave miracles. For knowing him personally is a lifelong adventure that keeps throwing his light on our value, our potential and our limits.
That’s the reassuring part, but his light also highlights advance warnings of the results if we try to manipulate events or people to achieve unworthy goals. Scary at first, but stepping back beforehand carries far less stress than the embarrassment or guilt if we ignore any of these warnings. He wants us to relax in the fact that his love embraces our worst as well as our best, so we can accept ourselves for who we are – without ever forgetting the changes that are all part of his work in progress...
Sensing how deeply he loves us makes it easier to love others and to respect them for their progress, for their potential and for the challenges they also face.
All these insights come saturated with the light that his love brings: the only force strong enough to maintain the insight and the energy that we need to make any lasting difference. For love works his perspective and patience through us, so we can stay alert and energised to activate ways to transform the worst of times into the best of times.
So no-one needs to be left in the dark.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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