“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
There was pitch black darkness around us after we left the starting area. We were wearing headlamp flash lights, but still all we could see was our own feet and enough ground to take the next step. There was no other light at 5:00am in the Texas hill country, except the soft glow of the moon above.
Fifty miles. That’s what we were about to embark upon. It was the longest run I had ever attempted. I was used to running on flat paved roads. This would be jagged terrain, climbing up and down rocks, and watching out for dangerous creatures. I thought about all of this as we began, thankful for the good friend by my side, and the small light glowing from our lamps.
As we set off into the dark woods, I began to think about one of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms. It is one I knew well, and I began to repeat it in my head. I meditated on what it meant, not only for running in the dark that morning…but for all the days of my life.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105
Without God’s Word, life would be like trying to navigate that darkness with no guiding light. Every step would be scary and uncertain, and potentially dangerous. But with His light leading my feet to the next safe landing, I can continue the journey with confidence.
As I ran, I thought about how the lamp on my head did not show me what was further down the road, or even 10 feet up ahead. It only showed me the very next step or two. In fact, if I tried to look too far, I would trip over an obstacle right in front of me. Sometimes it is like that in life also. During times that are dark or uncertain, we often can only see the next step, and we have to trust God for whatever comes after that, one day, one step at a time.
I knew the light was coming, the sun would be rising soon. But in that moment, I had to look to the light at my feet with all my concentration just to get through the darkness.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” John 1:9-10
Mile 45. I was just five short miles away from finishing. The whole day had been a gift from God. The weather had stayed perfect, not too hot or cold. The views were beautiful, and the company was great. Everything just seemed to work out. And even after all of those miles, my body still felt strong.
By this time, I found myself mostly on my own. I passed a few other runners here and there. But many had finished, and others had quit. I ran alone enjoying the beautiful sunset I could see across the open field.
As I headed back into an area with more trees, rocks, and climbs, the sun began to fade away and the darkness of night came creeping back. I turned on my headlamp only to find that the batteries were dying. Step after step, the light grew dimmer until it was only a soft red glow. It was becoming very hard to see. I was already past mile 48, so close. I began to feel afraid out there by myself in the darkness. I squinted trying to see where to go.
Now, when I think back and remember that feeling, I realize that is exactly how life would feel without the light of Christ and His Word in my life, dark and scary. If I am not spending time with God, reading my Bible and praying, it’s like my light has gone out, the batteries are dead. I am just groping around in the darkness trying to find my way.
I was so close to my goal, but I started feeling lost and discouraged in the darkness all by myself. The light on my lamp was just a flicker. Then, all of the sudden another runner came up behind me. He also had a headlamp, and his was still shining brightly. I was so thankful! The last mile had a big rock climb, first up and then down. With the light from his lamp we were both able to make it through safely. We ran the last stretch to the finish line and received our medals.
I think he said his name was John, but that is all I remember about the other runner. I just thank God for putting him out there in the darkness to help me finish my race. If your “spiritual batteries” are feeling low, find another friend who is shining brightly, someone who loves God’s Word and can encourage you. And if you are the one with fresh batteries, find someone who is flickering and encourage them in their journey.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
This world is a dark place without the hope of Christ. So many people are just running along without any light for their souls. It is no wonder they are falling over life’s obstacles and that so many are hurting. But those of us who have seen the light and know the good news of the Gospel, need to shine brightly for the world to see. Every time you or I open up our Bibles and read His story, it is like we are putting fresh batteries in our lamps, to help guide our own steps and help light the path for those around us.
We are made to be a light in the world. Are you shining brightly? Or are you fading and flickering? Are you making sure your children are equipped to go out into the world? Will they have the light of God’s Word to illuminate their steps? Or will they just have to wander around in the darkness trying to find their own way?
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
The story above happened six years ago. But lately I have been running in the dark again…literally, not spiritually. I love to run in the morning. And this time of year, I especially love seeing all of the Christmas lights. Beautiful colors and pure white lights pierce the darkness and shine brightly. Everything looks so still and peaceful in their glow. They remind me that there is hope.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2
The light of the world has come! Jesus Christ arrived so humbly, so quietly, a tiny baby in a manger. He lived, died, and rose again to give us light and life. One day, He will return in glory and then He will be the only light we will need for eternity. Until then, we can know Him through the words that He has given to us in the Bible.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:4-5
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Whether you are shining brightly today or feeling dim, press on! God’s Word is a lamp for our feet, and a light to our path. But we have to open the book to turn the lamp on. We have to read it to keep the batteries charged and the beam shining brightly. We need His Word to guide our own feet, our children’s steps, and to help others we meet along the journey of life.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world! There is no reason to keep on running in the dark. Open up the Bible today, turn on the lamp, and REJOICE!