I have always loved amusement parks. My advancing age has not diminished my love for thrill rides of any kind, especially rollercoasters. Growing up in Indiana, I had a favorite amusement park called Indiana Beach. We would visit it several times during a summer and would sometimes stay in a cottage across from the park for several days at a time, allowing for multiple visits to the park. One of my favorite rides was one called Mystery Mansion, a ride that took you on a slow moving car though two stories of total darkness. The mystery remains what was actually in the mansion as it was too dark to see even your hand in front of your face. As you might imagine it was a very popular ride with young teenage couples, or so I was told.
The ride took you through a series of twists and turns, uphill and downhill until you had no real sense of direction until you suddenly popped out of the darkness on the second story just for a few seconds before disappearing again into the darkness behind the double doors. Navigating once again through more darkness you eventually see the glare of a small light. As you approached it you could see that the light was that of a locomotive coming at you. By the time you recognized it a very loud train blast pierces the silence and your car suddenly veers out of its path just in time to avoid disaster as you burst back into the daylight. After being in the dark for so long the daylight is blinding but welcomed. Everyone exits safely to search for the next adventure, except the young couples who got back in line for another mystery trip, or so I was told.
Our faith journey at times can be like a ride through the darkness but without the thrills or the assurance that we will eventually see the light. Through situations that we will all find ourselves in we go through periods of darkness when the path before us can’t be detected. Psalm 23 speaks of walking through a valley of shadows. We are coming off of a year that found people in the darkness of illness, the darkness of unemployment, the darkness of uncertainty, wondering if and when they would ever re-emerge into the safety and familiarity of the light. And for some, when they could see a light piercing the darkness they wondered if it was the end of the tunnel or like the mystery ride, the light of a train heading towards them. It is in the midst of total blackouts that we must remember that we are children of the Light, Jesus Christ.
There are numerous scriptures that refer to Christ being the light that are precious to hold on to when we feel swallowed up by temporary darkness:
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light”, Matthew 4:16
“Though I live in darkness the Lord will be my light”, Micah 7:8
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overcome it”, John 1:5
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness”, John 8:12
“Even darkness is not dark to you for you make the dark to shine like day, for darkness is as light to you”, Psalm 139:12
“The Lord id my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear”, Psalm 27:1
David, a man described as being after God’s own heart, spent many days in the darkness of caves where he hid from those trying to kill him. But even in moments of his greatest darkness he remembered where his light and help would come from. David would recall how many times in his past that the Light had rescued him from overwhelming darkness. It is in these dark places we find ourselves in from time to time that we too must remember that Christ is our light and that He has already overcome the darkness of painful situations and will never leave us alone in these times of trials and testing.
All of us have our personal darkness stories, but when we can completely trust in Christ and follow in His light, just like the Mystery Mansion ride a time will come when we will burst from the darkness into the welcomed warmth of the Light, just as we always have before! Your journey may not be as fun as a thrill ride right now, but the light at the end is not an oncoming train but rather Christ waiting to welcome you out of your darkness. Peace.