If you know me at all, you know I have a passion for being outdoors, and I especially enjoy hunting. One morning recently I got up extra early to sneak into a new stand on the farm where I hunt. This particular stand hadn’t been used at all this year, and the property owner was going to walk me to it, as I had no idea where it was. Under cover of darkness we snuck quietly through the swamp, crossing shallow creeks and winding through trees and windfalls.
Once there, I was confronted by a 30-foot climb on a custom-made steel ladder that led up to the very small tree stand. I climbed the tree in the dark; I was honestly pretty fearful, as it was a long way up there! At the top of the ladder, I hugged the tree and worked my way onto the platform and ever so carefully attached my safety harness. The owner carried up my pack and rifle, whispered “Good luck,” and then snuck out of the swamp. Once he was gone and things quieted down, I was struck by the fact I was alone in a tree in the dark 30 feet off of the ground. It was a bit windy that day, and the tree was swaying slightly, which can be a bit disconcerting. It was cold; I was extremely uncomfortable and couldn’t see a thing, although my eyes gradually adjusted to the dark, and I could make out shapes of trees and could hear things moving around through the swamp.
Hunting laws state that you cannot legally shoot your gun before 30 minutes to sunrise, a time called first light. I was in the dark for 45 minutes before first light. As first light approached, I began to be able to discern more and more of my surroundings and for the first time really see what a predicament I had gotten myself into. I was really high up in that tree!
After four uncomfortable hours swaying in the tree, and having passed on some smaller bucks, I made my way down to safety and found my way out of the swamp, which was much more evident in the daylight.
First John 1:5-7 states, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
John talks about God being light, and I think about being in the darkness that morning. I know many who claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness, stumbling around while growing accustomed to the dimness and darkness that surrounds them.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world and that we shouldn’t hide that light but put it on its stand and give light to everyone in the house. He tells us also, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Isaiah 9:2 speaks of the coming of the Messiah with these words: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
This Christmas season, we will be surrounded by people claiming to know him who are really stumbling in the darkness. My prayer this Christmas is for the light of Christ to shine through my actions in such a way as to bring a spiritual first light to those in the dark.
– Joel Westa