Spiritual Survival (Part 5)

Light In The Darkness
by Rayola Kelley

The past four articles have been about the times in which we live. No thinking person would disagree that these times can prove to be quite depressing. It can appear as if all is hopeless. After all, who can save us from such despairing darkness? No mere man can save us from the encroaching evil. No one group has the means to change the course of the tide no matter how good their intentions are. No government can save us from the wicked designs of those in power. In fact, the government often becomes the main enemy, and advocate of evil.

In such hopelessness, it is hard to see that there is hope in spite of the darkness. In fact, when we study other dark times in history, we realize that there is a ray of hope. Grave darkness actually sets the stage for heaven to part this foreboding curtain with a great light.

For example, one of the most recent incidents where the light parted a great darkness was back in the early 1990’s. It was right after the iron curtain came down. After 50 to 70 years of grave spiritual darkness in Communist third-world countries, the light of the Gospel broke through with vibrant rays of hope.

I had the privilege of witnessing the impact of the light on these poor people. Jeannette and I were attending a missionary school with the hope of going to Russia on a short-term missionary trip. I remember seeing the first pictures and video of the first evangelistic meeting held in Romania, 70 years after God was kicked out of the country. This evangelistic meeting was held outdoors in the dead of winter. How many people do you think would venture out in the cold after being thoroughly indoctrinated in the religion of humanism, pumped full of atheistic philosophy, and inundated with the propaganda of the wicked gospel of Socialism and Communism for a whole generation? But, praise the Lord! There were 60,000 people who came to the meeting. When I looked into the eyes of those standing close to the camera, I saw fear, hopelessness, torment, and utter despair. They knew something that would behoove the unbelieving, lawless, godless, and immoral Americans to take note of, and that is, a country without God has no hope.

I also witnessed one of the first evangelistic meetings held in a Russian community. It was held in a stadium. Once again, the stadium was full of people. When the invitation was given to receive Jesus, the response was incredible. The aisles immediately filled with people, some even jumped about eight feet from the stands to the ground. The scene was the same no matter where you looked. People were not walking to the podium, they were running to it to receive the gift of precious life from above.

A video was also shown to us of a young man from Albania. Albania had been in complete darkness, under the tyranny of Communism for 70 years. To the dismay of the missionaries, they discovered that even the language of the people had no word for “God.” However, the light broke through the grave darkness that enfolded the country, and on the video a young man around 20, related in broken English the joy he had in receiving Jesus. He thanked America for sending missionaries and requested that more would come to teach him and his people about the ways and wonderment of God.

In another story, an evangelist was sharing how he went into one of Russia’s prisons. There were around 2500 prisoners along with six guards. He shared the simple but powerful message of the Gospel. When he sent forth the invitation for men to raise their hands to receive the Living Water from heaven, almost all the men responded. He could not believe the number of hands. He told them to put their hands down. Even though salvation is free, the life that is given must be worked into our very being. Christianity is not a matter of wishful thinking or a religious exercise. It is the life of Christ coming forth in power and glory.

The evangelist began to stress the cost that comes with this incredible life from heaven. He wanted these prisoners to know that it was not only a lifetime commitment and walk, but that the way was hard and straight. He once again gave the invitation. To his surprise every prisoner, including the guards, raised their hands to receive Christ. He admitted to us that he should not have been surprised at the response for the Spirit of God was moving upon their empty souls and hungry hearts with genuine hope and heavenly expectation.

Needless to say, these stories stirred up great passion in both Jeannette and me. We not only wanted to be part of the move of God in such darkness, but I was also reminded of another period of darkness. It was the darkness that had once weighed heavily upon my own soul. Sin’s tentacles were choking every semblance of anticipation from my being. Despair was mocking me, hopelessness encased me, and depression enslaved me. I not only was aware that I was walking in darkness, but that darkness was my reality, my endless pit, my barren, silent tomb, and if something did not change, it would also be my lot in life. I would never know where I was going or what I was looking for. I would be a wanderer, uncertain, lost, and always seeking for that which turned out to be illusive.

Most of you who know me, know the rest of the story. A light of hope did penetrate the darkness of my soul. It was the life of Jesus, and the light His life created within my soul graduated from the intense penetration of a beam of light of hope and promise to an all encompassing light that warmed my very soul with God’s love, mercy, and grace. The light penetrated every dark area of separation and loneliness, it pushed aside the musty smell of despair, filled the dark corners of hopelessness, and created an environment of liberty to see, explore, and discover the life that had been given to me.

It is important to remember that the darkness cannot extinguish this light. This light may at times be hidden behind the dark veil of unbelief, obscured by the brick walls of rebellion, and defused by compromise, but it is still present, ready to shine through darkness to reach receptive souls and tender hearts.

The ability of the light of heaven to shine through the darkness of the present world was demonstrated during another dark time in history. Matthew 4:16 describes this event, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” The light referred to in Matthew 4:16 came in the form of a person. This person came by way of a manger, born to a virgin among that which was considered base and insignificant.

This person came when spiritual darkness had entangled many, political darkness was oppressive, and the personal darkness that enshrouded souls was relentless. He came when darkness was indeed great upon all the land. His coming was foretold, ordained, and desired. He came when the gloomy desperation of man was hitting the pinnacle of despair and the religious traditions of man proved bitter, useless, and lifeless to the souls of men.

We know that this man came at an appointed time. We must wonder if the darkness of His time made it ripe for the light of His life to bring contrast to those who were lost and bound by the darkness. If He came when the twilight of self-sufficiency was at it height for His people, would His light bring the necessary contrast? If He came at the dawning of abundance, would the people recognize how poor they were in relationship to spiritual matters? If He came during the daylight of prosperity, would man recognize his need to be saved?

I am sure you recognize this person to be the Lord Jesus Christ. We will be celebrating His first advent this month. The idea that the light of Jesus began in the life of a baby in a manger, reveals how all light that is about to break through the darkness begins. It begins in a small insignificant way. At first, daylight begins as a mere speck of light on the horizon. Clearly, it must begin to dawn upon the landscape before its rays can break through the darkness. The shadows of darkness initially keep it obscure, but as the light parts the curtain of darkness, darkness must flee to give way to its glorious rays.

The truth is, the light puts forth the greatest impact when it is the darkest. Jesus came in the darkest moment of that age so people could see His light. He came when the best attempts of man had utterly failed to bring satisfaction to the longing heart. He came when the only real hope for man was to look heavenward. Granted, He was established in the shadows of obscurity, but when He burst forth on the scene, His light began to dawn upon the hopeless souls of men. It reached through despair, torment, ignorance, sorrow, and a spiritually barren wasteland. The light had indeed come to not only penetrate the hopelessness of men, but to offer a solution.

There is no doubt that grave darkness is enfolding not only our country, but the whole world. For America, many of her gods of self-sufficiency to wealth have been brought down. It is becoming obvious to many Americans that they cannot control the tides that are sweeping ashore. They have found themselves in a frightening wilderness that offers no real hope. Not only is this wilderness barren, it is being consumed by the darkness of night.

As believers, we cling to the blessed hope. The blessed hope points to Jesus coming back. Jesus is first returning for His bride, then He will come as the great Judge. The Bible is clear that when He returns, the world will be enshrouded in the greatest struggle it has ever known. If He does not come back, there will not be any flesh that will be saved alive (Matthew 24:22). It is obvious that in such darkness man is on the foolish course of self-destruction. For this reason, the night will also be as great upon the souls of men. Clearly, the only light that will penetrate the great darkness at the end of this age is Jesus. When Jesus comes as the righteous Judge, His light will bring such a contrast that even the wicked will cry out for the rocks to fall on them to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:14-17).

The key to spiritual survival is to believe, trust, and know that the light will eventually penetrate the darkness. It is true that the darkness will become great before parted by the light, but it points to the fruition of our blessed hope. Fear will be rampant, but as believers hope is our legacy. Hatred will be the norm in the world, but love will keep our focus heavenward. Despair will be prevalent, but we are able to walk in light of a heavenly expectation. However, to be ready for the light to penetrate the darkness around us, we must first make sure that it is present in our own souls.

Jesus came from outside of this world. He appeared in the midst of the humble and insignificant. He did not remain separate from the darkness; rather, He penetrated it with love, truth, and grace. He did not succumb to the darkness; instead, He brought the contrast of righteousness in order to stir up the hope of man. He did not flee the darkness; rather, He walked through it. And, when the great darkness of the cross was ready to consume His soul, He committed all to the Father in order to defeat it.

Our Lord left us an incredible example of how to survive the darkness. We must become humble vessels in which His light can penetrate. We must be born again with His life from above. We must then by faith walk in the light that has been provided by heaven by living according to the life of the Son of God in us. We must not try to hide the light; instead, we must reflect it to the world. As children of the light, we must reprove all works of darkness in meekness (Matthew 5:14-16; John 3:5; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:1-13). We must never be comfortable in darkness, nor use its influence as an excuse to live in it. We must become separate from all darkness, flee all youthful lusts, and bring all works to the light to ensure their integrity (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Timothy 2:19-22).

For many who are struggling financially, this Christmas will prove to be bitter. The light of Christmas will appear to become very dim or cease to shine for these downtrodden souls. However, as believers, we must remember that the hope, light, and real message of Christmas is not determined by presents under the Christmas tree. Rather, the real message of Christmas is that light came into the world, penetrated its darkness with love, overcame it with truth, and defeated it with redemption.

As believers, we possess the real light and gift of Christmas. And, regardless of the great darkness, the light will lead us through it. It will sustain us when it is the darkest, comfort us when it becomes heavy upon the soul, and give us hope when it appears that it is ready to consume us. In fact, we will be able to rejoice and look up for the great darkness will indeed signal that the real light of the world will soon part its curtain with the power and glory of heaven.

We at Gentle Shepherd Ministries want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year.