At Wind Cave National Park we experienced this sensation very vividly. The guide explained that without a source of light we could feel our way along the edges of the room, but would ultimately become confused about direction because we had lost all references to the outside world and had no way to correct our navigation.
In life, we are accustomed to having light at our disposal — streetlamps turn on at twilight automatically, our cars have headlamps that illuminate for great distance, we think nothing of walking into our homes at night and simply flipping a wall switch that makes each room as bright as we’d like. Even on campouts, we carry lanterns of various sizes and flashlights with powerful LED lamps that take very little power to illuminate great distances. Further, remote wilderness camping has starlight and moonlight which can (because of the artful design of our eyes) be more than adequate to find our way along a path to the latrine and back to our campsite. Some could argue that we take having light at our disposal for granted.
Finding our way in life depends on more than literal illumination to see the path under our feet — we depend on experience, wisdom, learning and insights. We use this information to make choices and select a direction, but we also face temptations to hid in the shadows to keep from being observed when we want to keep secrets or do something we know would lead to disapproval by others – especially God.
Ultimately, choosing to walk in the light yields the best results – based on avoiding stumbling blocks and getting to a proper, desired destination with the shortest path possible.
The Bible has a lot to offer on this topic. Especially considering that metaphoric light serves to expose our illicit deeds and intents, and to provide a way towards reconciliation — showing us who we really are in the eyes of a perfect Creator, and showing us His great love for us despite our rebellion.
You see, when God first created mankind, the only stated rule was simple to obey, but mankind faced temptation and failed to obey. Instead of seeking God out to ask forgiveness, Adam and Eve hid from God (Gen 3:8-10). Later in the book of John (starting with chapter 1, verses 1-18) Jesus is introduced to us but He is described as the Word, and the Light. Each description has distinctive meaning for us. The Word and the Light are provided to help us recognize our real position with God — that we’re separated from Him, dwelling in the darkness of our rebellion, but that a mechanism now exists for us to be reconciled to Him. In John, chapter three, verses 14 thru 21, the author states:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
The reference to Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness calls people to remember the story told in Numbers 21:4-9 where the people had been rescued from a life of slavery, were being led to a promised land of good living, and had all of their immediate needs provided for (i.e. food, water, clothing), but they chose to ignore God’s provision and love and grumbled and complained bitterly, selfishly. Serpents came and bit them on the feet and many died. Now they really had something to complain about! Recognizing that they should have been grateful, they asked forgivness and for deliverance. The serpents didn’t go away, but as long as people kept their focus on the temporary device that God had Moses make, they wouldn’t die from the bites and they could escape the area that was covered by these serpents.
The story provides a parallel to mankind’s greater need for reconciliation. Adam and Eve had everything, but they wanted more and broke the only rule they had been given. Into that darkness of rebellion, hard work to stay alive and such, we have been given light to find our way back to God. Instead of looking up to a device mounted on a staff, we look up to Christ who hung from a cross and was later glorified by being raised from the dead – having also paid the cost of our sinful behavior once and for all and enabling us to reconcile with God.
Perhaps most importantly, the last three verses (quoted above) tell the sad story of those who reject the light, reject the opportunity to reconcile —
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
So we have a choice — walk in the light (obey God’s directives and commands, study His Word, learn more about Him and His calling for our lives) or walk in darkness (being self-centered, self-serving, hiding from the light so that our deeds might be called secret and that we might try to avoid the weight of God’s judgement).
There is no middle ground — we must choose. Some would try to argue that Christ’s substitutionary death (He died in our place) gives us the freedom/liberty to defiantly sin and disobey. There are ample scriptures to counter that thinking:
- Galatians 5:13 (NASB) – “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
- Jude 1:3-4 (NASB) – “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.“
- Romans 6:1-7 – “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
- 1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 4:17 – “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?“
- Jude 1:17-23 – “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”
God provides for us to learn about Him in His Word. Here are some key verses about walking in the light (where the “light” is typically a metaphor for God’s wisdom, His word (the Bible) and Truth):
- 2 Samuel 22:29 – You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.
- Psalm 43:3 – Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. (we can call upon God to send us illumination through His word)
- Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
- Psalm 119:130 – The unfolding of your words gives light it gives understanding to the simple.
- Isaiah 42:16 – I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
- Isaiah 50:10 – Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
- Isaiah 60:19 – The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
- Micah 7:9 – Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD’s wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
- Matthew 6:22 – The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
- Luke 11:33-35 – “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
- Romans 13:12 – The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
So on campouts we carry a flashlight, a means to start a campfire, and we can often rely on moonlight or starlight to help us find a path — we’re never really in complete darkness like being in a cavern — but we value lights to make our way smoother.
Living life without the illumination provided (freely) to us by the Word is a choice based on the assumption that we don’t need to dig through the bible to figure our way. However, life can be so much smoother (or at least reassured) when we do rely on the bible for illumination — it can give us a bigger picture of our situation and greater perspective.
You don’t leave your headlamp/flashlight home when camping, so don’t leave your bible on the shelf, unopened, when dealing with life in general. Walk Worthy – Walk in the Light.
Want to dig deeper?
Consider asking your parents, your church librarian and your spiritual adviser about their recommendations for basic bible studies you might pursue, or about biographies and non-fiction books that deal with applying the Word to your daily life.