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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

the CULTIVATING

journal

Christmas Light

December 10, 2019



 

The People Who Walked in Darkness

 

When I think as far back as I can, which is to around age four, I can’t really remember a feeling of walking in personal darkness.  Maybe because of my genetic DNA or a nurturing home, maybe because my whole being was anointed in prayer and the Word from day one, or maybe because the Creator decided it would be that way.  But whatever the reason, I have never felt deep shadows in my spirit; despair and depression have never darkened my heart or mind; joy has been my near companion. 

But I know that the world is dark.  It has been dark since the moment Eden’s gates shut with Adam and Eve on the wrong side of them.  I know that whether I feel it every moment or not, whether in joy or in sadness, whether well-fed or hungry, darkness has smothered this earth and its inhabitants for thousands of years.  Brokenness has reared its head in my life personally plenty of times: through miscarriages and loss and fear and damaged relationships.  Even those of us who know the truth of the Gospel are pilgrims in this darkened world, and the effects of it don’t leave us unscathed.  We humans have been in darkness a long time. 

I wonder if those Old Testament saints felt the darkness press around them.  Is that why there was so much fire in the Temple of God?  Why He so often shows up in flames and lightening?  To push back against the darkness and show that there is True Light coming?  It was a long time in coming. 

I remind my little ones with what is probably an annoying degree of regularity of how long 400 years of silence is. “Do you know what year it was four hundred years ago?  The Mayflower hadn’t even set sail yet!”  What must four hundred years of silence from heaven have felt like? 

Four hundred years of wearying ritual.

Four hundred years of generations without any word from God. 

Four hundred years of ancient hands grasping tight to scrolls that are crumbling and worn. 

I can imagine the priests looking at each other on Passover, wondering how long they were going to keep slaughtering lambs.  If there were ever a time that seemed smothered by the darkness, when all of creation felt abandoned, it must have been those empty, hollow years.  Those centuries feel to me like a tomb: stale, cold, dark, dead. 

 

Deliver Us

 

My husband asked me at lunch today if I want to buy Andrew Peterson’s 20th Anniversary Behold the Lamb of God album.  We’ve had and listened to the original version for years and love it.  But this new edition is worth every penny if only for three bars of music.  The album tells one of the most breathtaking versions of redemptive history ever, climaxing with the title song, Behold the Lamb.  I picture the tiny Lamb of God, rubbed with straw to clean him of blood and placenta, wrapped in borrowed bedding, perhaps even licked clean by a mama-ewe come to feed.  But just before this sorrow-sweet lullaby, Andrew has included three bars of melody from an earlier piece called Deliver Us.  The words aren’t sung at this point in the album, but they must have been the cry of a laboring virgin mother-child that first Christmas night,

“Deliver us, deliver us, Oh, Yahweh, hear our [cry] . . .”

Certainly Joseph also desperately prayed those words.  All of creation, from the moment the cherubim were placed at the garden gate has wept and whispered and wailed those very words, “Yahweh, hear us”.

 From the cries of Eve beside the grave of her son to the weeping mothers alongside the Nile to Bathsheba’s cries for an innocent child paying for a king’s sin, “Yahweh, hear us” has been our petition at the gates of Eden for millennia. 

Slaves to Egyptian masters, slaves to Midianite oppressors, slaves to Babylonian kings, slaves to corrupt religious leaders all cried, “Deliver us!”  And in the darkest, loneliest corner of Bethlehem, Light came.

 

We Have Seen a Great Light 

God’s whole story begins with light.

It’s the very first thing out of His mouth, even pre-empting stars and moons and suns.  Light is an amazing thing to me:  not everyone can see it.  When looking at other artist’s works, I always look for the ones who can portray light rather than color and texture and shape only.  I tend to photograph into the sun, rather than away from it because I always think the light is more interesting than any subject.  Light is one my favorite things that God created: from candlelight to firelight to warm afternoon light to dappled forest light.  Each has a personality and purpose of its own.

I used to always think that when Revelation talks about there not being a need for the sun in the New Jerusalem that meant it would always be blindingly brilliant all the time.  I wondered how we would ever sleep, which I know might be a weird question, but I remind you that I’m a mom to five little ones.  Sleep is a big deal.  A while back, I realized that Revelation also says that there won’t be need of a moon.  Of course the Light of the World in His infinite array of variety would be the most glorious light ever!  Glowing lamplight on freshly rain-washed streets, sparkling starlight swirling around us as well as above, sunbursts of every color.  He is not just a good light; we have seen a Great Light! 

The fullness of time has come at last!  Finally, the angels are not just guardian soldiers to keep us from breaching paradise; they are heralds of God breaching the darkness of our world and bringing peace with Him.  The Lamb has come to take our sin. We walked about, as much as a person can, in complete darkness: stumbling, afraid, lost.  And in one glorious angel-filled night, the Word became flesh.  He revealed to us glory and truth and grace. 

It’s still a dark world.  The clocks relentlessly tick toward an end that is promised and sure and yet vague and sometimes frightening.  How we rejoice that we do not have to walk in the darkness!  On us a Light has dawned.



The featured image title “December Moon” is (c) Lancia E. Smith and is used with her glad permission for The Cultivating Project. 



 

Jordan Durbin

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