Darkness and light

David Epps's picture

I arise at 5 a.m. on Sundays. I don’t have to be at church until about 8 a.m. since the early worship service begins at 8:30 a.m. However, by getting up early, I can shower, dress, make a pot of coffee, and still have at least two hours remaining to go over my sermons notes, tweak them if need be, and prepare for the day ahead.

It was about 5:45 last Sunday morning when I heard a muffled, “Boom,” somewhere off in the distance and then the lights went out. Fortunately, I had already showered and dressed and had just put the coffee grounds in the machine when, as it turned out, a transformer blew.

I waited for the lights to come back on but, all there was, was the pitch black darkness. The sky was overcast, the sun was nowhere near the horizon, and there was no glow from the clocks, the fridge, or the night lights. All was dark.

I stumbled and groped my way back upstairs to wake my wife and tell her what had happened and then, finally locating my keys in the dark bedroom, headed out the door and to Starbucks. Before I made it out of the house, reflex took over and I flipped several light switches. I even pressed the garage door opener. There was, of course, no response. I drove through the neighborhood and determined that the blackout affected every home and street light.

The only way I had made it down the stairs, out of the house, into my car, and down the driveway is that I knew what all this looked like in the daylight. If I had not had that advantage I could have injured myself or broken something valuable — like my neck.

Sometimes, after a tragedy or a terribly stressful situation, people will sometimes say to me, “How do people go through these things without a relationship with God?” My response is usually, “I really don’t know.” And I don’t.

There has never been a time that I didn’t believe in God. I have my late parents to thank for that. That belief was reinforced at Mountain View United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn., during my high school days and was driven home during a personal encounter with God during my service in the Marine Corps. I have always been, to one degree or another, “in the light.”

Not that I have always lived in the light, nor have I always behaved in a manner that would reflect that light. But, even when I have walked in dimness or darkness due to ignorance, stupidity, arrogance, or sin, I always have known that the light was there and knew what living in the light looked like.

There are those who, having never known Christ and then having been found by him, have shared with me that it was “like a light was turned on.” Or as the scripture verse and the old hymn says, “Once I was blind but now I see.” “Those who have been in darkness have seen a great light,” the Bible says, describing those who came to faith after having none.

I thought about that at Starbucks as I sipped my coffee and reviewed my notes, enjoying the light once again. Later that day, the power people fixed the blown transformer and the lights returned to my neighborhood.

There is a darkness worse than that produced by a downed transformer. That particular type of darkness, without God, is described as “outer darkness” where there is “crying and gnashing of teeth.” Fortunately no one has to be there unless they so choose.

The “light has come.” His name is Jesus.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the associate endorser for U. S. military chaplains for his denomination. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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