Light and Darkness Day 7

Saturday, Dec. 3:

AM Psalm 20, 21:1-7(8-14);
PM Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117;
Amos 5:18-27; Jude 17-25; Matt. 22:15-22

Barbara Beasley

During the first week of Advent we focus on themes of light and darkness,
an easy concept for me to understand and relate to, and to meditate with.
However, as I was prayerfully preparing for this devotional, the Lord took me in
a surprising direction. I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns, “Be Thou
my Vision.” Ok, vision, light—I get the connection. Then he took me to
Paul’s encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus, drawing my attention
to the blinding light of Jesus. I didn’t see that one coming.

Normally, when I reflect on the Light of the World, I think of healing, love,
forgiveness, comfort and warmth – the familiar, often prayed for attributes of
Jesus’ presence. When have I contemplated the blinding qualities of that light?
Getting back to my hymn. I know all the words by heart, sing it easily and pray
the words as I sing. But what does it really mean for the Lord to be my vision?
And what does it mean for the Lord to take away vision as he did with Paul (or
Saul as he was known before his conversion)?

A verse often read during Advent is Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in
darkness have seen a great light.” Jesus reaches out to us, calls us out of our
darkness, shining his light on and opening our eyes to our sin and unbelief. It
truly is a “great light.” He is, indeed, the light that has come into this dark
world. But Paul’s encounter with this Great Light left him without sight—
hearing the voice of Jesus but not seeing him. He was walking in darkness,
blind for three days.

Why would Jesus put someone in a state of darkness in order to call him out of
the darkness of unbelief? Dark nights of the soul, times of spiritual dryness, the
feeling we can have that God is distant or remote—Are we too being blinded
by the light of God? Are we too being purified by the bright light of his holiness?
What needs to be brought into the healing light of Christ? Like Saul, are
we working passionately but in the wrong direction, at cross purposes to God?
When our sight is restored, what vision has been gained?

In Ephesians, Paul prays that we might have the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of our God, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened. What a profound prayer from the heart of the man that Jesus set free from spiritual blindness, re-named, gifted with great vision and insight, and then sent to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentile world.

Perhaps, like Saul, we, too, are being given a new name and a new vision, one
more befitting our true identity in Christ. Perhaps we too are being given a
name that our Lord whispers to our hearts as we are transformed from “doubter”
to “believer,” from “fearful one” to “one who stands on God’s Word.”

(Today’s exercise: Walk outside during the daytime and look up to the sun.
Thank God for the simple gift of sunshine. Also, thank God for shining his
light in your heart. If you have the time, walk outside at night and look up
into the night sky. Thank God for the darkened firmament. Thank God for the
things he does in the darkness.)

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