Friday, December 17, 2010

Light Appears

I’m an avid hunter and each fall I spend time preying on the elusive Michigan whitetail. In my younger days, I judged the success of my hunt by the venison I put in my freezer. But more recently, I’m realizing that hunting gives me much more than venison. It gives me a place to be alone, silent, and still. It gives me a greater appreciation for God’s creation and the change of seasons I get to witness with all my senses. So, when that big buck strolls by, it’s like ice cream on a wonderful piece of cake. I get to enjoy both.

But, there’s an aspect of hunting I really don’t like. It’s something no good hunter can avoid. It’s darkness. It’s common knowledge among hunters that deer feed and move, generally, just after dawn and just before dusk. So, to increase your chances of intersecting a deer traveling to or from a feeding area in the morning, you need to be in your stand before dawn. And the guys I hunt with… well, they like to be in their stands an hour before light. Uggh! That means a 5 a.m. wake up call on a Saturday morning. That means a dark, sleepy drive from my house to my friend’s hunting ground. That means a dark walk to the stand and a dark climb up the tree, all while fumbling with a small flashlight. That means a long hour of sitting in a dark tree during the coldest time of the day. I hate that part of hunting. Time drags. It’s the longest hour of the day.

So, why do I go through something I hate so much? Why endure the discomfort and inconvenience on a Saturday morning when I could be enjoying a deep sleep in a warm bed? It’s because I know the light will gradually come. The sun will rise and the things I love so much about hunting will be fully experienced. It’s amazing what light does. It simply lets me see. Instead of straining to see 10 feet in front of me, I can see the entire forest in full color. Light also awakens the forest. Birds begin to appear and sing and other animals begin their daily pursuit of food. And… the hunt begins.

This past year, I worked through a book called The Story with a couple small groups I lead. Using mostly Scripture it tells, in chronological order, the story of God in about 400 pages. A few weeks ago, my men’s group finished the Old Testament portion of the book and as we reviewed the big picture of the OT, many of us commented on how dark that time period seemed to be. God created humans to live in harmony and relationship with him but, time and time again, they chose sin and rebellion instead of an obedient, blessed relationship with God. The OT seems to be filled with cold, dark hours where God’s people struggled to see clearly. Yes, there were torch bearers like Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel who carried light in darkness; yet as we read the OT we all longed for Light to appear. Mankind needed someone to wake up the world and bring life to a dead and dark world.

Then the Light appeared! Read John’s words, the words that open his Gospel account of the life of Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1.1-4

Light and Life came just as predicted. Isaiah, a prophet who lived in a dark period of time almost 700 years before Jesus, had a vision of the coming Light. In a time where the nation of Israel was in peril because of their rebellion against God, Isaiah envisioned the Light coming over the horizon.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned... For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9.2,6

Christmas is upon us. It’s time to celebrate the Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting Light! Our dark hours have hope!

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