Out of Darkness (Hebrews 1:3a)

The Son is the radiance of GodÂ’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3a)

Today I had a grand experience, helping my daughter to move out of her old apartment. As marvelous as moving can be under the best of situations, this one topped the list. You see, we moved her family out of the apartment but not into a new place. The reason for moving? They had a house fire that rendered the building uninhabitable.

With the electricity now turned off and the broken-out windows covered with plywood, the apartment was dark. I raked through wet sheet rock and charred paneling to try to locate salvageable items, all the while limited by the narrow cone of light coming from a head lamp.

You don’t appreciate the presence of light until you don’t have it. You don’t realize how incredibly dark a place can be–a place full of sherds of glass and jagged boards–until you’re there with the windows covered. Darkness, I can now attest, is not conducive to successful searching or moving.

I mention this because of the description of Jesus as the “radiance of God’s glory.” Radiance fills a place, a situation, a life, or a world with light. That feeble head lamp I wore this morning offered only a tiny fraction of the radiance provided by the sun through the windows or the lights on the ceiling. But even those normally ample light sources pale by comparison to the radiance of God’s glory.

God is so amazing that even the train of His robe filled the heavenly temple with glory according to Isaiah 6. That vision so overwhelmed Isaiah that he knew himself to be in deep trouble having witnessed it in his sinful state. That full glory of God overwhelms. But in Christ, the radiance of that glory comes to earth in a form fit for human experience.

Isaiah also tells us that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). I understood a small glimmer of that experience as I walked from the darkened bedrooms of Emily’s charred apartment into the well-lit living room. How much more light do we receive from Christ.

A Deer in the Dark–1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. –1 John 1:5

One night, years ago during one of the summers I spent on the Scout camp staff, I walked home from a campfire early, leaving everybody else in the glow of the dwindling blaze. Between the campfire site and the main part of camp, I had to walk through a profoundly dark area. No electric lights gave me guidance and the overarching trees blocked out whatever moonlight might have been available that night. Still, I knew this path well. Provided I stayed on the pavement, I’d be fine.

Somewhere in the middle of that inky darkness, I heard a ruckus in the woods, something crashing headlong through the underbrush to my left. I stood for a moment trying to understand what my ears perceived. A deer, I decided. A deer must be panicked and dashing through the night away from some threat, real or imagined. My ears then told me that the deer was headed my way, up the ridge to my left. What should I do? Should I run? What point would there be in that? For all I knew, I might run right into the deer’s path, winding up skewered on an antler. Shuddering somewhat, I determined to stand in place and wait. The thrashing in the brush came closer and closer. Then I heard a clatter of hooves on the pavement in front of me. How far? I can’t say, but too close for my liking. Then the beast dove into the brush on the right side of the road and headed down the hill to my right.

Let me be clear. I’m not afraid of the dark. I am, however, sometimes afraid of the things that the dark conceals. The darkness conceals danger and duplicity. It hides pitfalls and problems. Sometimes it conceals a stampeding deer that only God’s grace directs around you.

This is why I am relieved to read that there is no darkness in God. God is light. He illuminates everything. There’s nothing unknown, nothing hidden in him. In God, we don’t flounder around asking what to do. We don’t worry about the things we don’t know, the things that go bump in the night. In God, we don’t fear the ultimate darkness, death.

God is light. This much is clear. What is not so clear is how we will respond to that light. Will we hide from it, seeking to hang onto our evil deeds, or will we open ourselves to it, allowing it to seek out and expose our imperfections?