Monday, September 12, 2011

The Light of The World

When I was a child, I have a memory of going deep into a cave with my family. When we were sufficiently far enough in that we could no longer discern any light from the entrance, my father had us turn off the flashlights we were using. The result was instant darkness. I held up my hand, inches from my face, trying to see even a tiny bit but to no avail. The darkness was simply too engulfing, too complete. Of course, all we had to do was turn back on our flashlights and that light that seem so insignificant when we were first entering the cave was suddenly a bright, shining beacon in the dark.

Life is often like that cave from my childhood. We enter in, leaving the glowing sun without, and venture forth into the dark. At first the light from the cave entrance illuminates our path, but gradually it decreases until we find ourselves surrounded by utter blackness, unsure of how we arrived and hard pressed to find a way out. The despair of finding ourselves in this situation is often overwhelming and makes it difficult to believe that we will ever emerge from the darkness.

But though at times it's difficult to see, Heavenly Father has prepared a way for all to rediscover light in their lives. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the world to be the light of the world. John 1:4-5 states, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Christ shines in the darkness as our beacon of hope; our sure way to emerge from whatever darkness is engulfing our lives and back into the light of God. John explains further, "[Christ] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (1:9)

A familiar psalm expresses the belief "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1) Whether it is fear, disappointment, grief, self-loathing, depression, anger, or any other malady that keeps us from seeking the light of Christ, He continues to plead with us to come unto Him. John records, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Sometimes, when I feel as though darkness has blinded my path and I can no longer see, I remember the story of the man born blind. For countless years, this man had lived in darkness with no hope of escape. Then Christ came, as recorded in John, and stated, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he (Christ) had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." (John 9:5-7)

Christ can perform a similar miracle in each of our lives. He knows how to remove the blindness covering our eyes and hiding the light. He invites us each to wash/repent so that we too may come forth seeing. I love the imagery in Isaiah 9:2 "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Abinadi further declared, "He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death." (Mosiah 16:9)

But Heavenly Father will not force us to choose the light. He has given each person their agency and will not retract that gift. Like the serpent raised in the wilderness with the promise that he that looked would live, we each have the choice of whether or not we will seek for light in our lives. Samuel the Lamanite, in preaching to a wicked Nephite city asked, "How long will ye choose darkness rather than light?" (Helaman 13:29)

Sometimes it's hard to believe that even with the sins we have committed in the past, God would still want us. We are afraid that if we turn to the light, we will be rejected and found unworthy. But then I remember the story of Alma the Younger. He went about actively trying to destroy the church of God. He committed many sins and led others down the paths of wickedness as well. But Alma was confronted by an angel who caused him to review his life and the path he was taking. Alma states, "I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell... And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul." (Alma 36:12-13, 16)

But God showed mercy even to this man who had committed so many sins against him. Alma continues, "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." (Alma 36:17-21)

If God can heal even a man such as Alma and bring light back into his life, then surely he can do the same for each of us. One of my favorite songs when I'm feeing low contains these verses:

Never doubt His goodness.
Don't believe that it's too late.
He sees your every struggle,
and He knows the trials you face.
Feel His warmth around you.
See His arms are open wide.
Know that He stands ready,
when you start to change your life...
Follow and believe Him.
Put your trust in Him again.
Change your heart forever.
Let the miracle begin.

The light of Christ is a miracle in each life. D&C 88:67 states, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be fill with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things."

D&C 88:11-13 states, "And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space- The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things."

Just as turning on a flashlight instantly brought light to me in a dark cave, the light of Christ can and will light the life of each person that turns to Him. And I know that by following that light, we can all come back into everlasting light in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

1 comment:

  1. I love the imagery in this post. I've been in just such a cave both physically and spiritually. And despite the feelings of utter loneliness and abandonment that accompanied the darkness, I was able to find my way to the light and to my Savior. Thank you for this post Jennie. It really brightened my day.