Darkness clung to the cavern walls, falling from the ceiling like a mold ridden curtain. Our eagerness to explore, along with a taste for adventure was quickly dwarfed by fear. Yet we’d committed. Greater was the fear of being called chicken. Forever labelled adolescent cowards.
The unknown birthed a more deep-seated fright than any reality. Thirty meters into the cave, after passing two bends and away from the slight filter of light from outside, the full measure of blackness gripped our hearts like the cold fingers of death itself. Then the match was struck and the lamp turned up.
The ceiling moved in waves as a symphony of silky black writhing. Bats! My worst fear. The pets of hell itself. With their master’s chamber just ahead? Don’t breathe too loud, I told myself. I wanted to run out screaming. Wait in the car. But perhaps I was more afraid of failing.
If ever I needed to call upon the Lord for strength and courage, it was now. Silently, though shouting in spirit. Protect us Lord. Don’t let the devil or his flying attack rodents get us. Please make me brave. And don’t let that light go out!
Suddenly I was propelled forward—shoved from behind through the huddle of my companions. But no one had been behind me. I watched my hand reaching out to confiscate the light from the taller boy and snatched it high.
“This way.” Is that my voice, sounding with assurance?
Straightaway, I’d felt embodied by someone else, my limbs moving at another’s bequest. Through the labyrinth of passageways my rigidly erect body led the foray. The former quivering of liver and gut subsided, replaced with firm resolve, and an unknown peace. And my spirit heard the words of John 8: 12.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Passageways presented many possibilities. Branches of the honeycombed mountain base.
“How much string is left?” I wanted to know we weren’t going to get lost. The rearmost lad was unspooling a ball of twine. The end of which was tied outside. Our guide back out.
No one seemed to mind that I’d taken command. But maybe it wasn’t really me.
“Stay close together.” There was near silence. Someone’s teeth chittered nervously. Then the sounds of running water. And a faint glow just ahead. Around the next bend.
When we all finally stood in the spacious underground room, the beauty of its secrets dazzled our eyes. A shaft of brilliance beamed from a natural angle-cut chimney of sorts, lighting the cavern. The walls glinted with thousands of shiny reflections. Minerals in the rock walls. A trickle of water divided the forty foot length, with fifteen feet of smooth floor on either side. From the high vaulted ceiling stalagmites dripped, forming rivulets to gather in a blue pool of fresh, cold water.
Such hidden splendor took us by surprise. It was the light which enabled such beauty. And it was Jesus, the light of the world who had replaced my fear with strength. One day I would know the hidden beauty inside the darkness of my own heart. When Jesus would transform it with His light.
God was illumining us with truth that day. Before the lamp had been turned up everything around us was unknown. Blackness. Complete darkness is an egregious horror. With malevolent mysteries planted in our path to trip and entangle our feet. A paralyzing fear of the unknown. But once that lamp was lit, it revealed everything. And the shaft of sunlight from above shone to represent the true light, who lights the hearts and minds of men with truth.
Jesus is the truth and the light and the way to eternal life. As powerful as my fear had been, He was more powerful. My prayer had been answered instantaneously. He revealed not only His presence and willingness to walk with me, but also became my spring of never ending knowledge and wisdom, peace and purpose.
When again we stood outside that cavern, I knew that no matter what happened in my future, the Lord would be with me. And after walking through the myriad of this life’s passageways with me, He would be there at the end to welcome me home. Jesus is the light at the end of the tunnel.
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