“Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you..”  John 12:35

“And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into a ditch”  Matthew 15:14

“Then God said, Let there be light and there was light..”  Genesis 1:3

Okay, first, sorry for those who might be thinking this is a post concerning “Star Wars” and Luke Skywalker battling his alter ego in a cave.  It is not.

No, this about an experience I had in a cave out in Arizona while out on vacation.  This experience came in a natural underground cave system called a dry system so there are no formations like the towering stalagmites or stalactites.  In this instance, the main cave is a large chamber which is 4+ stories tall and could easily fit a large gymnasium within it.  The chamber was for the most part empty,

So enough about the cave and on to the experience.  We enter this chamber which is well lit and our guide explains how it was formed.  Then he did something amazing.  He had a remote control for the electric lights that hung on the ceiling of the gave.  He asked us to promise that although we might shift our steps some, not to walk around.  Then he turned off the lights.  My family, wife, daughter and son were standing mere inches from me.  With the lights out, I had absolutely no indication that they were there.  I experimented with bringing my hand up in front of my face and slowly bringing it toward my eyes.  I stopped when my hand touched my nose.  I still could not see it.  This was absolute darkness.  There was no light discernible at all.  While this was completely mental and not actual; sound seemed to be effected as well.  The guide gave us the opportunity to call out.  There was no echo, no bouncing of sound off the walls.  It seemed as if the sound was swallowed up in the depth of the darkness.

What is the connection between this experience and the spiritual darkness Jesus references?  First comes the aspect of movement.  Standing in darkness, I was not filled with any anxiety.  Yet if I had been asked to find the exit in the dark or perhaps run from one wall to another; my anxiety level would have vastly increased.  I was safe standing still and had no confidence in being able to move in any particular direction.  If forced to move, I would have moved very slowly.  Eventually, I would have found a wall.  But then if I had to turn and walk across the chamber, my initial steps might have been confident but very quickly the steps would have become slow and hesitant.  If I would have been tasked to lead another person to the exit or follow someone else, I would have had no confidence in my or the other person’s ability to lead.  We would have been both equally as helpless.  If there were stones in our path, we would stumble; if ditches in front of us; we’d fall.

Jesus was (and of course still is) the Light.  In fact He was Light to all while He was on the earth.  Some, most, would have rather had darkness.  He knew that darkness was coming.   The darkness that comes from disbelief.  What darkness you ask?  Many believed in the power of the city Jerusalem.  Within 40 years the Romans would burn the city and destroy the temple.  Some believed in Herod Agrippa, he would fall dead in the year 44.  Many believed that, with the death of Jesus; His ministry was destroyed.  But His disciples like Peter, John, James kept openly preaching His gospel and seemingly could not be stopped.  Think about it.  With all of their worldly lights being snuffed out, where could those who did not believe in Jesus turn?

Think about it.  How can the people of today, who don’t believe, find any sense of direction by which to walk?  I can surely trust my political leaders?  Until they get caught.  Well the people who train hard and do amazing athletic feats; they I will put my trust in.  It’s not cheating unless you get caught is their answer.  We don’t spy on our own people?  Marriage lasts a lifetime? War is a last resort?  We’ll never allow another Holocaust? and? and? and? And while those who only believe in the light of this world; which we know to be darkness, search for direction; they stumble and fall.

From the very beginning God knew that we needed light.  It was the first command that He gave.  He saw that it was good.  Notice that throughout the bible; there’s never been a charge, a bill for the Light that God provides; whether natural or spiritual.  The Israelites, as they came out of Egypt, did not have first give a certain amount of gold, sacrifice their first born, to get God to travel with them in the desert.  Jesus charged no entrance fee to hear Him speak, to partake of His meal, to be healed by Him.

No, while the Light of God is free, we do have to seek it out.  Truly, it is not hard to find.  It manifests itself in the natural beauty of a sunrise, the loving beauty of a smile of a newborn, the spiritual beauty of the sacrifice of His son’s life for us.  The mystery is why so many would turn to darkness.  Why the continuous pain and bruising is not enough to have them turn to the light.  That the frustration over missteps and anxiety about any movement actual leads to an eventual lack of all movement.  Yet they would rather stand still then turn to His Light.

That is the lesson of the cave.  In my natural state, I am in darkness.  The only light that can lead from that darkness is the Light that shines from above.  In that Light, I can move without fear.  Only within that Light can I have the confidence to hold my brothers and sisters hand and offer leadership as well as accept it from them.  Lord may it always be that we accept and use Your Light in Praise to Your Name.  In Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.