A group of five enthusiastic cave exploring friends, or spelunkers, arrived at a celebrated cave known for its high ceiling, great length, and multiple exit points. There was a moment’s hesitation upon discovering that only two of them had their headlamps. Being excited for the adventure ahead, they decided that would be enough. Once inside, far enough in for the entrance daylight to have dimmed, it was time to get the lamps on. The first one lit up perfectly. The second had a jammed on/off switch which turned out to be unfixable without tools. Undaunted, they continued along on their adventure with the solo lamp bravely leading the way. Twenty minutes in, they noticed, to their dismay and mounting concern, that the sole lamp was dimming. In just a few minutes, it, too, flickered and died. Instant fear gripped the group until they each began to rehearse the rules of spelunking as they applied to this situation. First, do not panic! Check. Next, hold someone’s hand before moving. Check. Third, wait for eyesight to adapt to the darkness. Check. Fourth, identify any possible point of light if possible. Check. Continuing to hold hands, begin slowly, step by step, to move toward light, however faint. Ever so slowly they proceeded, with multiple slips and falls, in the direction of the pale promise in the distance. As they neared it, they had to resist the urge to push forward faster, but wisdom prevailed and they made their way, step by painstaking step, to the exit ahead. Once they could clearly see sky, hearts beat faster and they began to make their way to freedom by way of a perilous vertical climb. Outside, nervous laughter erupted as they considered the Breaking News Headlines had they not kept looking to the light.
Jesus declared himself to be the Light of the world. Looking to him brings freedom just as surely as the five friends in the story above found freedom by looking to the light. Maybe this is why he warned of the risks of hiding light in a basket, why true Light is akin to that of a city on a hilltop, permanently visible, and from a great distance. It is true that light is both a great help to those walking through a dark place and a signpost for those of ill-intent. Jesus chose to be Light for all, even when his opponents used it for their advantage. When he said he must go to Jerusalem, he was saying in effect, that he must continue to be Light. He stayed visible ‘for his life is light for all humanity.’ John 1:4. And now, with his Spirit within us, it’s our turn. PD